Corps Says Draining Louisiana Lakes Would Be Less Expensive Than Dredging

Tue August 14, 2007 - Southeast Edition

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Draining seven shallow lakes in the area of Louisiana State University and bringing in earth-moving equipment to shove out decades of silt would be much cheaper and faster than dredging them, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

University, City Park, Campus, College, Crest and Erie lakes, and a small, unnamed private lake City Park and the Louisiana State University campus all were created in the 1930s, when the original cypress swamps were logged and the areas dammed off.

They now average approximately 2.5 ft. (0.8 m) deep, with pockets 4 to 6 ft. (1.2 to 1.8 m) deep — so shallow that fish in the lakes often die en masse when the water gets too hot to hold enough dissolved oxygen for them, said Mark Wingate, corps senior project manager.

He said an average depth of approximately 5 ft. (1.5 m), with some parts of the lake system 8 ft. (2.4 m) deep, could stabilize water temperature and dissolved oxygen, and remove sediment contaminated with phosphorus from surrounding developments.

It would take approximately two years and $35 million to $50 million to dredge the lakes, while draining and using earthmoving equipment would take a year cost $7 million to $15 million, he said.

The federal government would pay 65 percent of the cost, so a $7 million construction project would cost local government $2.4 million.

A draft feasibility study should be completed by the end of December, Wingate said.