1st phase of False River restoration nearly complete
NEW ROADS - State and local officials say construction efforts intended to improve the water quality of False River continue to move forward according to the long-term plan recommended by the False River Watershed Commission.
State Rep. Major Thibaut said contractors are currently in the process of removing sediment from the lake bed in the South Flats of the lake and using it to construct a containment dike there. Once completed, the dike will make up the foundation for a 16.5-acre terraced island that will provide habitat for wildlife in the area.
Professional Engineering Consultants Corp. Was hired to oversee the project, and they say that more than 32,000 cubic yards of sediment have been moved as a part of dike construction, while another 170,000 cubic yards of sediment are to be dredged out of False River to be pumped into the containment dike.
"The process is slow, but steady," said Gerald Babin, vice president of PEC Corp., "Our contractors are being careful to build with finesse, and not brute force. Adding soil to the structure must be done slowly to allow the water to escape and the soil to become compact."
Babin also pointed out that the 2 to 2 1/2-foot drawdown of the lake's water level has been advantageous to contactors as it exposed part of the lake bed to make reaching sediment easier and to solidify the base of the newly constructed island. Many local residents and property owners have expressed concern about the drawdown, claiming that it has damaged docks and other lakefront construction.
A second company is collaborating with PEC Corp. to conduct surveys and will eventually construct weirs necessary to lessen the influx of more sediment into the False River system.
"This will successfully get us through Phase I of the project, and allow us to move to the next phase, which is to do work on the north end of False River," Rep. Thibaut said.
The work on False River has been funded by state capital outlay funds approved by the State Legislature and Gov. Bobby Jindal. About $1.5 million has been allocated for the first phase of work in the South Flats, and another $1.2 million in funds have been earmarked for work on the north end of the lake, according to Thibaut. A final $1 million grant from energy supplier NRG will fund work on the sediment-reducing canals.