GONZALES, LA — Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez announced that all digging and excavating within 1,500 feet of the Mississippi River levee in Ascension Parish is prohibited until further notice.
President Martinez said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District made the determination to ban digging after monitoring the Carrollton river gauge in New Orleans which reached 11 feet.
Ascension Parish encompasses three levee districts including the Lafourche Basin Levee District, the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District and the Pontchartrain Levee District
According to a Corps of Engineers press release, the Corps and State of Louisiana have established allowable distances for certain types of work that can adversely affect the integrity of the federal levees and structures.
The Corps said all work that may impact Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) levees, which includes transport of heavy loads over the levee, disturbance of grass cover, or subsurface work within 1,500 feet of the levee, is prohibited when the Mississippi River reaches 11 feet and rising at the Carrollton gauge in New Orleans. Waivers are considered on a case-by-case basis and are dependent on many factors, including surrounding subsurface ground conditions.
Permit holders are advised to contact their local levee districts for detailed information and to monitor river stages and forecasts by calling (504) 862-2461 or checking www.rivergages.com  and/or http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/eng/edhd/dailystagedisplay.asp  .
Police Capt. Dean Smith with the Pontchartrain Levee District is reminding motorists that it is against the law to ride the levee in a motor vehicle at any time.
“Violators will be issued citations,” Capt. Smith said. “We’ve increased our patrols.”