Schneider Canal stretch dredged



Sediment threatens to cut drainage flow

Tuesday December 16, 2003
By Paul Bartels
St. Tammany bureau

A city contractor Monday was dredging out a stretch of the Schneider Canal in south Slidell where sand and silt buildup were slowing water flow and threatening to reduce the effectiveness of three of the six pumps at the nearby drainage station.

At one point upstream, sandbars formed from each bank were almost touching, while McDonald Construction Co. workers were using a long-reach tracked hoe downstream to dig out the south bank to prepare it for the placement of stone riprap.

Mayor Ben Morris said the additional riprap will shore up the bank and, in effect, extend the approach to the pump-intake area. That will keep sediment farther away in the future.

The sediment buildup, due in large part to summer storms, was first noticed in early September. The City Council allocated $36,000 for McDonald, the city's maintenance drainage contractor, to do the work.

By December, the buildup had reached the point where it threatened to reduce pumping capacity by up to 30 percent of Pump 6 and almost as much on Pumps 4 and 5 in the event of a major storm, Public Works Superintendent Dan Yeates said.

Yeates said the work, which must be done every few years, should be finished next week. The dredging "spoils" from the intake side of the pumping station will be used to help build up the west levee on the discharge side.

The six-pump Schneider Canal station became fully functional in 1998 and has seen additional improvements since then.

Designed to protect much of south Slidell, it can push up to 375,000 gallons of water per minute into the unpopulated swamplands around the edges of Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

At about $5 million for construction, pumps, diesel-powered emergency generator, west levee building, road access, trash rakes, related improvements and engineering fees, it's the city's single most expensive drainage work.

The project was financed with a combination of local bond issue money, state aid and some Federal Emergency Management Agency money.

. . . . . . .

Paul Bartels can be reached at
pbartels@timespicayune.com or (985) 645-2854.

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