Gulf of Mexico
Engineer's rendering of proposed pump station. Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District

Louisiana: $65M secured to construct Bayou Lafourche pump station

State and local agencies signed an agreement on Wednesday that will finance the construction of a $65 million pump station at the head of Bayou Lafourche, improving its water quality and addressing saltwater intrusion at its base.


Officials say construction of the pump station will symbolize a culmination of a decade’s work to restore the bayou’s connection to the Mississippi River, which is necessary to provide drinking water to more than 300,000 residents across Terrebonne, Lafourche, Assumption and Ascension parishes.

Ben Malbrough, Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District executive director, said the water quality improvements will be “profound” once the pump station is constructed. He added that the system will be “more resilient” as the new pump will increase the capacity available.

With the current pump running on full capacity all year, Malbrough said it places the system in “very vulnerable position.”

“Because we have no backup capacity,” he said. “If we lose a pump, it has a major effect on the health of the bayou.”

He added this pump station will allow the district “more redundancy.”

Malbrough noted the increased flow of freshwater down the bayou is also the “only long-term solution” to addressing saltwater intrusion on the lower end of the bayou and protecting the estuaries that are at risk.

Bayou Lafourche is also the only source of potable water for Port Fourchon, supplying not only port tenants but those working offshore, he said.

The Thibodaux-based Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District and Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority will share responsibility to repay the $65 million federal loan over 15 years at a low interest rate.

The loan was awarded through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund and will be administered by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Malbrough said the fresh water district will be responsible for $15 million of the loan and CPRA will cover the other $50 million.

The long-term repayment agreement will allow them to start the project without “consuming all the cash on hand,” he said.

It also provided CPRA with money for the construction of the Grand Bayou Floodgate Structure -- one of the last remaining gaps in the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection system.

In a news release, CPRA Board Chairman Chip Kline called the agreement a creative solution that came about through “cooperation and coordination.”

“To meet the great needs we have in coastal Louisiana, we have to think strategically and take advantage of every funding opportunity available in order to move projects from the drawing board to construction,” he said.

Malbrough also credited the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program as an important partner in the securing the money.

He appreciated the timing of the agreement’s signing -- 11 years after Hurricane Gustav made landfall. That hurricane caused the bayou to go septic for 30 days, ringing the alarm for how important it is for hundreds of thousands of Louisiana’s residents.

“The most critical component of this entire project is the pump station,” said Malbrough. “And all of these federal, state and local partners is what has allowed us to make this happen.”

With the engineering of the project nearly complete, Malbrough said officials are trying to wrap up the final regulatory requirements and aim to put the project out for bid in early 2020.

Staff Writer Halle Parker can be reached at hparker@houmatoday.com or 857-2204. Follow her on Twitter, @_thehalparker.

See Houma Courier article . . .