The Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District has authorized Sealevel Construction to proceed with the Thibodaux weir removal project. The initial work will take place at the City of Thibodaux’s water treatment facility and will begin in early January. The weir demolition is scheduled to begin in late February and completed by mid-2021. Pedestrian traffic, some bayou-side vehicular parking spaces, boat traffic, and fishing will be restricted around the immediate area during utility relocation, equipment mobilization, and weir demolition. Long-term closure of La Highway 1 is not expected.
As part of the MRRBL (Mississippi River Reintroduction into Bayou Lafourche) series of projects, the removal of the weir plays a critical role in the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District’s ability to pump more fresh water into the Bayou Lafourche to protect our endangered coast due to saltwater intrusion. The only true long-term mitigation for this continued encroachment is to increase the fresh water supply into Bayou Lafourche from the Mississippi River, and removal of the weir is a large part of the MRRBL project list.
The Thibodaux weir was constructed in 1969 to create a water reservoir for water treatment facilities and sugar mills north of the weir. While it has served its original purpose, it has not only impeded the flow of water in Bayou Lafourche, but also prevents boat access in Bayou Lafourche which is not only a major impediment to the operations of BLFWD but also a major impediment to the recreational boaters of the bayou region. With the Lockport Water Control Structure in place, and the Assumption Parish Water Control structure recently completed, the water elevations of Bayou Lafourche can be safely managed without needing the weir in Thibodaux. In addition to coastal erosion benefits, removal of the weir will greatly increase the recreational potential in the bayou.
In August of 2019, the BLFWD hired Duplantis Design Group to perform the survey, regulatory compliance, demolition plan, and permitting for removal of the weir, and in May of 2020 the Lafourche Parish Council approved a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District to provide $1.3 million of the parish’s GOMESA funds towards the project.
Archie Chaisson III, Lafourche Parish President said “Lafourche Parish is proud to partner with the BLFWD on the removal of the weir. This is a project that we have all worked on and dreamed of for years and to finally see it become a reality is exciting. This project will not only open up the bayou for better flow but the impacts to the recreational use of Bayou Lafourche will be tremendous.”
Ben Malbrough, Executive Director of the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District, said “The Weir Removal Project has been a priority project for BLFWD for quite some time. With the completion of several other necessary projects in the bayou, the weir can now be removed without jeopardizing our region’s water supply.”