BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Governor Kathleen Blanco's plan for the upcoming special legislative session includes possible consolidation of parish levee boards, though she could face opposition from lawmakers leery of taking power away from the local agencies.
Blanco's plan offered no specifics on how much power the state would pull away from the local bodies, but said a "unified authority," run by the state, would make levee planning and construction more effective.
Blanco advisers say the local boards should continue taking care of the basics, such as pumping stations and levee maintenance. Scott Angelle, head of the state Department of Natural Resources, says flood protection across the coast would be improved if the state had a single voice when trying to get money from Congress for levee improvements, instead of dozens of levee boards fighting over federal funding.
Blanco's plan calls for unifying two related efforts: improving levees and protecting the eroding coastline. Sidney Coffee, Blanco's top wetlands protection adviser, said the administration wants the wetlands office expanded to include hurricane protection. Today, Louisiana has no statewide hurricane protection system.
My question is: "If the USACE continues to design and have built the sorts of levees they deem appropriate/sufficient, what difference does it make who is in charge? Really folks, the Corps has created our problematic situation by leveeing and channeling the river such that it has resulted in the tremendous loss of our coastal wetlands and barrier islands (remember, natural protection from storms, i.e., hurricane protection) -- engineered management of the Mississippi River. Their job was to keep the Mississippi navigable for the nation's economy/industry. They have obviously done their job . . .