U.S. Senator Secures Corps Agreement for Third-Party Review of West Bank Levees
U.S. Sen. David Vitter secured an agreement from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers leadership that the Corps will conduct a third-party review of West Bank levees recently found to contain significant amounts of debris – such as a used tire, a hot water tank and a shopping cart – during an inspection last month.
An independent, outside peer review team will have to sign off on a report on the Corps’ analysis and any proposed remedy for the debris situation and future subsidence of the affected levees. Vitter hosted the meeting with Commanding Officer Colonel Ed Fleming and Chief of Engineering Walter Baumy at his Metairie office .
“West Bank residents were obviously very worried about the extensive debris – literally, piles of junk – found in the levees, and it’s concerning that there could be much more still to be found,” said Vitter. “We can’t tolerate any more negligence when it comes to our levees, something that has unfortunately been the norm for the Corps for a long time. I’m glad that Corps leadership agreed to a full third-party review and oversight, and I’ll stay in close contact with Corps leadership to make sure they abide by their commitment.”
Vitter asked Corps leadership to include the entire segment of the WBV-14c.2 project in the Corps’ existing Peer Review program to assure that all plans, specifications, and construction were done in accordance with the extensive review of hurricane protection levees of the New Orleans area conducted by the post-Katrina Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force.
“Including beach re-nourishment, probably some levy systems, and jetties to stop erosion and a lot of things like that,” Vitter said.
Vitter also urged the Corps to conduct an internal review to determine why the levee was built in such a questionable manner.
Vitter is preparing to introduce legislation that would reform the Corps’ delivery of critical flood control projects. Vitter’s bill would create a pilot program aimed at eliminating red-tape and expediting backlogged projects by delegating more project management responsibility to state and local governments in an effort to expedite the delivery of projects.
Earlier this month, Vitter asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct a comprehensive audit of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ funding and contracting practices from 2004 – 2011.
In an op-ed last week in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Vitter outlined his plan for reforming the “Corps norm” – “a vicious cycle of bureaucracy, delay and cost overruns.”
Dredging Today Staff, December 22, 2011;