SLFPA-E Passes Resolutions, Approves Agreement, Recognizes Chief Engineer Spencer At February Meeting

NEW ORLEANS – The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E), which sets policy and provides oversight to levee operations in East Jefferson, St. Bernard Parish, and all of the east bank of New Orleans, met for its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, February 18, 2016.

         The Board continued performance analysis of major flood protection structures, initiated the Mississippi River Floodgate Paint and Repair Project, and approved an agreement between the Port of New Orleans and the Orleans Levee District (OLD) setting property boundaries and operational responsibilities of certain floodwall and levee sections.

         The Board of Commissioners also received the Final Report: New Orleans East-Bank Hurricane Surge Residual Risk Reduction, including System-Wide Compartmentalization Study, and the Board recognized SLFPA-E Chief Engineer Stevan Spencer for his nearly 30 years of service to the citizens of Louisiana. For nearly a decade, Spencer has tracked the status of federal hurricane protection projects and scheduled and managed engineering and technical resources for SLFPA-E. Prior to his work with SLFPA-E, he served as principal technical engineering adviser to the former Board of Commissioners of the Orleans Levee District. In other business, the Board rescheduled its regular May monthly Board Meeting from May 19 to May 12.

 

• Received Preliminary Levee Districts FY 2017 Budgets & Standardized Accounting, Human Resources, Legal, and Information System Update

 

         Chairman of the SLFPA-E Finance Committee, Commissioner Jefferson Angers, presented the agency's finance committee report, which included a preliminary Fiscal Year 2017 budget report from the East Jefferson, Orleans and Lake Borgne Basin Levee Districts and an update on efforts to standardize accounting, human resources, legal and information technology systems across the regional body.

         Commissioner Angers explained that the Orleans and East Jefferson Levee Districts had no substantive revenue or expenditure changes. In particular, the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District will operate at a breakeven budget continuing its implementation of cost cutting measures including reduced staffing, elimination of merit raises and partnering with the St. Bernard Parish Government Public Works Department on interior drainage maintenance. FY 2017 budgets are to be submitted to the Louisiana Joint Legislative Committee by April 1.

         Commissioner Angers also reported that the agency's executive staff is transitioning easily to a standardized system of accounting. To support the streamlining efforts underway, Angers explained that the process to establish positions for a chief financial officer and an operations director is underway, and a position for a chief information technology officer position will be initiated this month.

         SLFPA-E President Joe Hassinger said, "We have made substantial progress over the last couple of years, positioning the Authority to meet the many challenges it will face in the years to come. The Authority's mission is being carried out in a professional, reliable and focused manner. Commissioners are working together in a unified way to address matters that are critically important to its mission, and the Board of Commissioners and Authority staff are bringing about the vision that guided the reform movement post-Katrina."

         SLFPA-E Finance Committee Chairman Jefferson Angers said, "Our priority is to standardize and streamline all budgeting, payroll and information technologies across this agency. This is a challenge but the Levee District Executive Directors and the SLFPA-E Regional Director are committed to making this a reality and they are making great progress. This standardization will ensure a more efficient and cost-effective delivery of flood protection services to the public."

 

• Continued Performance Analysis of Major Flood Control Structures

 

         The Board of Commissioners passed a resolution that continues performance analysis for the Lake Borgne Surge Barrier, Seabrook Complex and Gates, Bayou St. John Sector Gate, Bayou Bienvenue Sector Gate, Bayou Dupre Sector gate and the Caenarvon Sector Gate.

         The performance analysis consists of two phases. Phase I provides risk elicitation workshops dedicated to each of the major flood protection structures, and is currently nearing completion. Phase II will redevelop the operations and maintenance plans for the flood protection structures analyzed in Phase I. The beginning of Phase II is subject to the successful completion of Phase I and the Authority's receipt of funding in the amount of $260,000 from the Office of Community Development/Disaster Recovery Unit. During discussions, SLFPA-E Vice President Steve Estopinal highlighted the need to work directly with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure additional funding for further engineering analysis of potential flood risks.

         "This performance analysis is important as we evaluate maintenance and operation of flood protection assets going forward,” Estopinal said. “However, I want to take this a step further to hydraulics analysis. There will be additional costs associated with this – but it is necessary. I urge the SLFPA-E staff to continue conversations with the Corps of Engineers to explore our options to pay for and conduct further analysis that impacts directly potential flood risks"

 

• Approved OLD-Port IHNC Floodwall Boundary Agreement and Mississippi River Floodgate Project

 

         The Board of Commissioners approved an agreement between the Port of New Orleans and the Orleans Levee District (OLD), which gives the OLD a servitude and right-of-way over a portion of Port of New Orleans property along a floodwall bounded by the east bank of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC), Almonaster Avenue, the Gulf Inter-coastal Waterway, and the Elaine Street Warf. The agreement allows OLD to conduct operations, perform maintenance, improvements, repairs and replacements, and to patrol the floodwall and levees in the area.

         The Board of Commissioners also passed a resolution initiating a $2.5 million Mississippi River Floodgate Paint and Repair Project. The project consists of sandblasting and painting 67 of the 74 Mississippi River Floodgates. In addition, rubber seal replacement and sill repairs will be made.

         Orleans Levee District Executive Director Gerry Gillen said, "The agreement with the Port of New Orleans clarifies property boundaries and operational responsibilities. This means that maintenance, repairs and patrol of the floodwall and levees will be conducted efficiently and at the highest level of effectiveness. And, the Mississippi River floodgate project scheduled to begin very soon is an example of our continued vigilance to refurbishment and upgrades to flood control structures along the river." 

 

• Received Hurricane Surge Residual Risk Reduction Final Report and Compartmentalization Study

 

         The Board of Commissioners passed a resolution accepting, without endorsing or approving any of the specific recommendations, the Final Report: New Orleans East-Bank Hurricane surge Residual Risk Reduction, including System-Wide Compartmentalization Study prepared by Bob Jacobsen, PE, LLC. The final report and compartmentalization study was funded through Community Development Block Grants.

 

         TheSoutheast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East ensures the physical and operational integrity of the regional flood risk management system, and works with local, regional, state, and federal partners to plan, design, and construct projects that will reduce the probability and risk of flooding for the residents within the agency's jurisdiction.

         The Board of Commissioners includes: Lambert J. Hassinger, President; Stephen Estopinal, Vice President; Jefferson Angers, Treasurer; G. Paul Kemp Secretary; Wilton P. Tilly III P.E.; Kelly McHugh; Richard A. Luettich, Jr.; Tyrone Ben

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