- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

NEW ROADS, La. (AP) - As the first phase of restoration efforts in Pointe Coupee Parish’s False River nears completion, officials say they’re already seeing robust plant growth and a return of the habitats and vegetation most desirable to fish.

But, they say, bringing the ailing oxbow lake back is going to take more time.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1Jkn9QH) the False River Watershed Council will ask the Police Jury for a 90-day extension for contractors to finish building a containment dike near the lake’s southern tip.

That dike, or island, has been the cornerstone of the first efforts to restore False River’s water quality. The project is being overseen by the False River Watershed Council, a panel of local elected officials and stakeholders.

“We are achieving our objectives,” said Gerald Babin, vice president of Professional Engineering Consultants Corporation. “We’re not trying to get it done and just move out of there. We’re allowing (the contractor) more time to do a quality job.”

The man-made island is described by officials as a ring-levee style containment being built from sediment dredged off the bottom of the lake’s south end.

Dredging False River, once a fisherman’s haven for catching trophy bass fish, provides additional water depth, which keeps the water temperature in a healthier range for fish, encouraging them to reproduce and replenish the lake’s population.

False River’s decline over the past two decades mostly has been attributed to the heavy silt buildup at the bottom of the lake, which state officials have said impeded vegetation growth that helps form fish-spawning habitats.

Babin said the contractor has spent the past few months sucking out roughly 160,000 cubic square yards of material from the lake bed and used it to solidify the island.

“That’s equivalent of covering 22 football fields to a depth of 5 feet,” he said. “The process of keeping those sediments in the dike is giving them time to settle. So (the contractor) pumps part of the day and then lets it settle overnight.”

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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