US Corps of Engineers agrees role in $6bn Louisiana flood defence works

Louisiana’s Interstate 12 during the 2016 floods. (Sario528/Public Domain)
The US Army Corps of Engineers has signed an agreement to work on a $6bn programme to build flood defence systems against hurricanes along the coast of Louisiana.

The project will be part of the Morganza-to-the-Gulf plan, which aims to protect against storm surges with 158km of levees, as well as a locks and floodgates on navigable waterways.

The project partnership agreement was signed for the corps by Colonel Stephen Murphy, New Orleans Engineer district commander.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Murphy commented: “This day has been many years in the making, and we are thankful to all those before us who worked to make it possible. Signing this project partnership agreement is an important step toward furthering one of our nation’s most important risk reduction systems.

“The corps is proud to be a partner with the state, parishes and levee districts and to be able to participate in the path forward to strengthening one of our nation’s most important flood risk reduction systems.”

The corps will now work on building the grass-covered levees, which will be between 2.5m and 4.5m in height. There will also be a lock complex on the Houma Navigation Canal, 22 flood gates, 10 road and rail gates, armouring for pump stations and 23 “environmental control structures”.

The projected cost of the Morganza plan has varied widely over the past 20 years.

It was originally costed at $890m in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act. However, by 2014 an estimate conducted for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act put the figure at $10.3bn. This was then cut to $6bn in the 2019 Adaptive Criteria Assessment Report.

Once complete, Morganza will reduce the risk of flooding for more than 200,000 people and 53,000 structures across the area.

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