infrastructure

Travis Lux / WWNO

Two disaster-related bills proposed this week in Congress could offer relief for Louisiana communities affected by extreme weather. One would create a permanent safety net program for commercial fishers who have suffered losses due to environmental damage. Another would create a special fund meant to help cities and towns build more resiliently.

Commercial Fishing and Aquaculture Protection Act of 2019

Environmental disasters can cause commercial fishers to lose money. This year, for example, Mississippi River flooding has dramatically reduced the catch of several kinds of seafood in both Mississippi and Louisiana.

Parts of the Mississppi River levee system are at risk of overtopping due to storm surge from Tropical Storm Barry.
United States Army Corps of Engineers

A few sections of levee along the Mississippi River are at risk of being overtopped in Southeast Louisiana. The reason: storm surge from the Gulf of Mexico. WWNO's Travis Lux spoke with Ricky Boyett from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about why this is happening and which areas are the most at risk. 

A bill to raise the state’s gas tax was shelved Monday, as the bill’s author, Representative Steve Carter (R-Baton Rouge), pointed to the difficulty of trying to raise taxes in an election year. 

BATON ROUGE-- The House Ways and Means Committee discussed a trio of bills Monday and Tuesday that would give the city of New Orleans more control over local revenue to address its growing infrastructure concerns.

The public discussion came as New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s Administration and leaders of the city’s hospitality industry have been unable to reach an agreement on how to pay for repairs to the city’s infrastructure.

Facing a steep drop in state revenue last year, the Louisiana Legislature agreed to partially extend the state sales tax by .45% until 2025. But as the state’s finances have moved from deficit to surplus, some Republican lawmakers are reconsidering the temporary tax. 

Butterbean/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Several Louisiana mayors are part of a group lobbying lawmakers in Washington D.C. this week to support infrastructure spending -- and with a particular focus on projects and programs aimed at addressing extreme weather events.

 

Representatives from the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI)  went to Washington to meet with congressional members and White House staff. They want lawmakers to prioritize infrastructure, and to focus on helping cities prepare for and adapt to climate change.

Travis Lux / WWNO

Last year, the city of New Orleans announced that workers had sucked 46 tons of Mardi Gras beads from catch basins on the side of the road. And that was from just five blocks along St. Charles Avenue -- one of the main parade routes.

That news got a lot of attention, and a growing number of people are trying to figure out how to reduce Mardi Gras waste -- without reducing the magic.

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, WWNO’s Travis Lux and Thomas Walsh take a look at what’s being done.

Travis Lux / WWNO

Several green infrastructure projects will be coming to New Orleans' most flood-prone neighborhoods thanks to an $86-thousand grant from the Institute for Sustainable Communities.

Healthy Community Services, a local nonprofit, will use the grant money to build green infrastructure projects designed to collect stormwater - like rain gardens - in the 7th Ward and Treme, two areas that flooded heavily last year.

Kira Akerman/Zac Manuel

The documentary Station 15, directed by Kira Akerman, follows Chasity Hunter -- then a high school student -- as she learns about water infrastructure in New Orleans.

 

Hunter is becoming an informal ambassador for the city around water management and climate change. Last month, she represented New Orleans with a panel of other students from around the country as part of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco -- where activists called on politicians to do more about climate change.

 

WWNO’s Travis Lux spoke with Hunter about her experience at the Summit, and her investigation of New Orleans water infrastructure.

CPRA

On Wednesday, congress passed America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which could encourage the Army Corps of Engineers to build more green infrastructure.

Infrastructure bills are fairly routine. Generally passed every couple years, they often approve lists of projects for things like river dredging or levees -- projects that the Corps builds.

New this year: a section that requires the Corps to consider “natural or nature-based” projects as alternatives if it wants to build something.

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