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CPRA Receives $26.7 Million RESTORE Act Grant to Fund Phase I Construction of the Houma Navigation Canal Lock Complex

BATON ROUGE, LA – The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) has been awarded $26.7 million to fund the dredging of 1.2 million cubic yards of earthen material to begin construction of a lock complex adjacent to the Bubba Dove Floodgate on the Houma Navigation Canal (HNC). The grant subrecipient, Terrebonne Levee & Conservation District, will perform the dredging activities.  
The grant award comes from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council) using funds from the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). The Council previously awarded CPRA $18.5 million for engineering and design of the project. The State has allocated $366 million in RESTORE Act Spill Impact Component funds to this project over a 15-year period.
The HNC Lock Complex is part of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan and 2021 Annual Plan as a key component of the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection system, enhancing the goals of both restoration and protection. It is designed to reduce saltwater intrusion and distribute fresh water within the Terrebonne Basin, an area experiencing one of the highest rates of land loss in coastal Louisiana, while also providing hurricane protection when the floodgate and lock are closed to hold out storm surges.
Hydrologic restoration will reestablish approximately 178 acres of brackish marsh habitat. The lock will enable greater flexibility in operating the floodgate by allowing boats to transit the flood control structure while the floodgate remains closed. 
“This project will reinforce the ecosystem recovery we are seeing in the freshened areas behind the Morganza levees, with the added benefit of making a good storm protection system even better,” said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline. “In the few short years since construction began on these levees, flood walls, and flood gates, the portions built have dramatically reduced storm surge damage to people and homes in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes. And remember, to date, everything in the Morganza to the Gulf system has been accomplished with no federal money. It’s all been funded 100% by the citizens of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes and the State of Louisiana. This is a testament to what we can achieve when we join forces to accomplish a shared goal.”
Adequate funding was a major barrier to accomplishing the planned $366 million upgrades to the HNC system until the Louisiana 2020 Regular Legislative Session passed Act 89 allowing CPRA to take advantage of the RESTORE Act distribution of funds in annual installments over a decade and a half. With these funds available, Phase 1 construction work can begin this year with Phase 2 anticipated to begin in 2022.
“This huge lock system on the HNC will control the ecosystem in Terrebonne Parish by stopping saltwater intrusion and abnormal high tides that have plagued Terrebonne for decades from high south winds,” said Terrebonne Parish President Gordy Dove. “This is a testament to keep striving to move large and small projects forward. Thanks to Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Legislature, and Chip Kline and the great staff at CPRA.”
State Representative Jerome “Zee” Zeringue said the funding signifies the first step in constructing the HNC Lock Complex, which is critical to the survival of the region. “We are thankful for all who have worked tirelessly to make this happen on a federal, state, and local level,” Zeringue said. “Funding is always a challenge, however, but this investment will ensure that these communities, which have made a significant contribution to this levee system and the irreplaceable ecosystem it protects, can be sustained for generations to come.”
The 36-mile Houma Navigation Canal was constructed by Terrebonne Parish Government in 1962 as a direct water route for commercial vessels between the Gulf of Mexico and Houma’s Port of Terrebonne along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
“The benefits of the HNC Lock Complex are threefold: coastal restoration, hurricane protection, and increased access for commercial ship traffic,” said State Representative Tanner Magee. “The state, through CPRA, has been incredibly supportive of this project and the people of Terrebonne Parish, and we are appreciative of their hard work in securing the funding to build this key structure in the Morganza to the Gulf levee system.”
Reggie Dupre, Jr., Executive Director of the Terrebonne Levee & Conservation District, says the positive impacts of the system are almost immeasurable, except for one telling statistic.
“The storm surge in 2005 from Hurricane Rita flooded about 11,000 homes in this area, but with the system we’ve built, only 11 homes took on water after a similar surge from Hurricane Barry in 2019 and the numerous named storms in 2020,” said Dupre. “From 11,000 down to 11—I call that a pretty good start. But the storms won’t stop coming, so we won’t stop improving our system.”
The RESTORE Act contains five different funding components, one of which directs 30 percent of the funds to each of the five Gulf Coast States based on a formula established by regulation for expenditure for ecological and economic restoration of the Gulf Coast region (the Spill Impact Component). In order for a Gulf Coast state to receive funding under the Spill Impact Component of the RESTORE Act, the states must first submit a plan to the RESTORE Council for the expenditure of Trust Fund monies through that funding component. The State of Louisiana was the first state to have a Spill Impact Component plan accepted by the RESTORE Council, a plan guided by the state’s Coastal Master Plan. Louisiana’s Spill Impact Component plan identifies $366 million for the Houma Navigation Canal Lock Complex over 15 years.
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