Dispute over debris at levee resolved

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 15, 2013 at 11:38 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 15 at 11:42 PM

Dennis Woltering / Eyewitness News
Email: dwoltering@wwltv.com | Twitter: @dwoltering

WESTWEGO, La. -- The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West shot video in summer 2011 to show the unsuitable debris their crews found in a new flood protection levee the corps built south of Westwego.

“You have large pieces of bricks and concrete and rocks and steel rods and wood, large, almost tree trunks,” said Susan Maclay, president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West.

After months of analysis of the levee and disagreement between the Army Corps of Engineers and the levee protection authority, the Army Corps of Engineers still maintains.

“We actually do have a very well constructed levee. We are confident that it is built in accordance with contract plans, and that it will perform as intended,” said Kevin Wagner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

But the Army Corps of Engineers acknowledges that unacceptable levels of debris were found in six places along the levee that could present a danger -- especially to crews maintaining and mowing the levee.

“There were pieces of wood that exceeded the specification,” Wagner said.

The levee authority maintains the debris is more than just a case of too much wood.

“Wood was the most abundant, but we found concrete pieces, we found pieces of pipe,” said Jerry Viera, a board member. “Everything from crane hooks to supermarket carts.”

But the Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a solution that the levee authority feels will resolve its concerns.

Generally it involves removing objectionable surface material from six areas of concern and adding one foot of clean clay to cap the levee.

“We're satisfied that, first of all, the levee is fit for use. It's safe,” Viera said.

And in one area where the levee is built on top of an old access road, the Army Corps of Engineers will install 350 feet of sheet piling.

“The sheet piling is to protect the community from any seepage that might occur that because of buried debris,” Viera said.

And the Army Corps of Engineers wants to have its own employees perform a lot of the work for quality control.

“So we make sure we have close supervision of the works that’s going to be performed,” Wagner said.

The Army Corps of Engineers says it has funding for the work and intends to have it finished by hurricane season.

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