It’s time for the Corps to make the right decision on New Orleans flood control (Sen. David Vitter)

Hurricane protection and flood control are issues on which we can all agree, regardless of party affiliation, and this week, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu joined me in introducing a bill that will direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take a series of specific actions regarding flood control systems in New Orleans.

I have been consistently disappointed in the Corps’ inability to come to the right conclusion when it comes to New Orleans flood control concerns.  Thousands of local residents have to contend with the very real threat of being flooded out of their homes, yet the Corps continues to recommend solutions based solely on cost, without giving proper consideration to more important concerns, such as safety.

On repeated occasions, I have asked – and the U.S. Senate EPW Committee has also asked – that the Corps not make their decisions based solely on cost estimates and without regard to the best overall plans.  But to date, they have not done so.

My new bill would direct them to take the right action with their work on New Orleans’ outfall canals, which are critical to flood protection in the greater New Orleans area as they funnel water away from urban areas toward the Mississippi River.

The bill would require the Corps to implement Options 2 and 2a for the canals over the cheaper, but less secure, Option 1, which involves the placement of pump stations and floodgates at the end of the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue and London Avenue canals that would be designed to work in conjunction with interior pump stations and would be turned on when tropical storms are forecasted to strike the area.  Options 2 and 2a would allow for gravity drainage movement of water to Lake Pontchartrain’s pumping stations and fund the Pump to the River project, which would discharge storm water to the Mississippi River.

Further, the bill directs the Secretary of the Army to provide the appropriate resources to allow the Corps to proceed with these projects and requires that the Corps use the funds that were intended for use on Option 1 for construction projects outlined in Options 2 and 2a.

The people of the greater New Orleans area deserve to be safe, and it’s time that the Corps began taking the necessary steps to make that happen.  Options 2 and 2a may cost more, but they’ll also help us save lives and property.  That’s an expenditure worth making.