Gulf of Mexico
A photo of a temporary barge gate being installed in Bayou Chene in 2019 to protect against backwater flooding in the Morgan City area. via St. Mary Parish Levee District

LA - Construction of $80 Million Floating Floodgate Underway Near Morgan City

Residents of six coastal and river parishes will no longer have to rely on old barges to block flood waters from the Atchafalaya River.

State and local levee managers have begun work on an $80 million floodgate at Bayou Chene near Morgan City that will provide longer-lasting protection for the portions of St. Mary, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Martin, Assumption and Iberville parishes that are under growing risk from backwater flooding during the Atchafalaya’s high-water periods.

The floodgate will replace temporary barges that have been used at same location four times. Barges were temporarily sunk across the bayou during flooding and high water periods in 1973, 2011, 2016 and 2019.

“Thankfully, sinking barges has been successful, but it is a costly and short-term approach,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement. “This permanent structure will provide a reliable, long-term solution for the people and businesses in this area.”

The project’s funding comes from energy revenues via the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, or GOMESA.The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the St. Mary Parish Levee District are overseeing construction.

During high Mississippi River events, about 30% of the river’s flow is transferred into the Atchafalaya River system near Baton Rouge. High water in the Atchafalaya begins backing up through Bayou Chene, moving from west to east around Morgan City and then north, where it can overtop levees and wetland buffer areas, causing flooding.

Read more.