Garret Graves announces flood, hurricane protection approvals

Staff Report

Congressman Garret Graves of the sixth district in Louisiana announced legislation expected to pass the U.S. House of Representatives and be signed into law includes wins for the state.

In a news release, Graves pointed out that the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 is expected to deliver better flood control, coastal restoration, and hurricane protections, as well as direct investment into ports and waterways.

Graves said numerous pro-Louisiana provisions are included in the bill. The new law will build upon billions of dollars in resilience investments he has secured in recent years to help lower flood insurance rates.

"We’ve said countless times that our country is better off investing in stronger flood and hurricane protection projects rather than charging higher flood insurance rates or footing the bill to pick up debris after a natural disaster," Graves stated. "This bill will improve our flood protection, restore our coast and bolster our ports. South Louisiana parishes deserve better investments, and the Army Corps will be held even more accountable under our provisions. We’ve been focused on delivering results and positive outcomes – and the passage of this legislation moves us even closer to a more resilient Louisiana."

U.S. Congressman Garret Graves, left, is shown during an event Oct. 21 along the Mississippi River levee top in Donaldsonville. He is shown with state Rep. Ken Brass.

According to the release, Graves authored several provisions which were included in the legislation:

  • Upper Barataria Project: Authorizes a $1.8 billion project for hurricane and flood protection improvements, helping to protect the Upper Barataria Basin parishes of Lafourche, St. Charles, St. John, Assumption, St. James, Jefferson, and Ascension. This will immediately send $8 million in federal funding to begin pre-construction engineering and design on the project. (Section 8401)
  • Comprehensive Lower Mississippi Study: Advances the effort to improve the management of the Mississippi River for flood protection, port performance, seafood production and the restoration of our coast. Under Graves’ amendment, $5,000,0000 will be immediately released to begin this landmark reevaluation on lower river management. (Section 8343)
  • Louisiana Hurricane Protection and Levee Improvements: $2.2 billion in projects authorized in St. Charles, Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish – working in partnership with Reps. Scalise and Carter. (Section 8401)
  • Restoration of MRGO: Provision confirms that the project was intended to fully be the responsibility of the federal government. (Sec. 8241)
  • Comite Diversion: Requires the Army Corps to regularly report to Congress on the completion of the Comite project, which is now years behind schedule and over budget.

Authorizes new investments to improve water and wastewater systems through the Corps Environmental Infrastructure Program (Section 8375):

  • Capital Region (East Baton Rouge, Ascension, and Livingston Parishes): Increases authorized funding to $90 million.
  • Bayou Parishes (Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Charles, Assumption, St. James, St. John, and St. Mary Parishes):Increases the project authorization by $10 million. 
  • River Parishes (St. John, St. James, and Assumption Parishes): Increases authorized funding to $36 million.

Policy Improvements: 

  • Post-Katrina Loan Payments: Extends the deadline to pay deferred payments stemming from post-Katrina flood protection projects, ensuring the state will be financially able to continue historic investments in new protection projects (Section 8386) and allows the state to address this debt through funding other coastal restoration and flood control investments. (Section 8384)
  • Prioritization of Dredged Material: Requires the Corps to prioritize using dredged sediment for coastal restoration when digging or clearing navigation channels in our coastal area. (Section 8130)
  • Accuracy in Economic Value of Our Ports: Improves the accuracy of data on the commercial value of ports, concentrating on the value of commercial fishing and aquaculture harvest. (Section 8236)
  • Online Permit Filing: Requires the Corps to join the 21st century and create an online portal to file, update, and track permit applications. (Section 8226) 
  • Building Back Stronger: Provision which will allow the Corps to build flood protection projects back to higher, stronger standards rather than allowing repetitive flood damages. This provision came directly from repeated damages to Grand Isle during the 2020 and 2021 hurricane seasons (Section 8102). 
  • Coordination between FEMA and the Corps: Improves information sharing on the National Levee Database (NLD). As flood protection projects are finished, it is critical that they are added to the NLD as soon as possible to ensure that flood insurance policy holders see their premiums go down, especially with the rising rates under the harmful Risk Rating 2.0 policy. (Section 8236)
  • No Adverse Impacts from Levee Modifications: Amendment to ensure thatpotential modifications to levee systems will increase flood resiliency, reduced flood risk, and benefit individuals living behind the levee system in flood zones. (Section 8121)
  • Ensuring Appropriate Land Acquisition: Provision will require the Corps to require the lowest type of land acquisition to support Corps projects -- decreasing costs and speeding up the completion of critical projects. (Section 8235)
  • Extension of Credit Transfer Authority: Extends the ability of the state to transfer the value of extra work it’s done on Corps projects to fulfill cost shares owed on other Corps projects. (Section 8383)
  • Corps Responsibility of Levee Subsidence: Ensures the Corps continues to meet expectations to rehabilitate existing levees in Louisiana to ensure they offer the maximum flood protection.  (Section 8382)
  • Aquifer Working Group: Graves amendment includes farmers and agricultural lands in efforts to help with aquifer recharge efforts to ensure irrigation and sustainability of our farms and water sources. Graves secured this amendment with the help of Rep. Julia Letlow (LA-05). (Section 8108)