- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A weir is being built in City Park to make the park’s lagoons storage areas for floodwaters and to protect a championship-level golf course under construction there.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and others announced the project Tuesday.

When the weir is finished, lagoons will be lowered in advance of a storm to collect rainwater. Besides storing rainwater, the weir will prevent flooding in the new golf course.

Zurich Insurance, the sponsor of the region’s annual Zurich Classic PGA golf tournament, donated $1 million to build the weir. The tournament could be transferred to City Park in the future.

The weir is an example of projects that are part of new large-scale federally funded efforts to manage storm waters differently in this flood-prone city that’s traditionally relied on pumping water out as fast as possible.

The city recently received $141 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to experiment with stopping floodwaters from quickly entering the city’s drainage system.

The idea is to retain water in the ground with parks, retention ponds and other methods. New Orleans experiences severe problems with sinking and engineers hope storing water in the ground will shore up the water table under the city and stabilize sinking.

In City Park, once the weir is working, the lagoons will be able to store the equivalent of 400 football fields of water covered in 1 foot of water, according to Zurich Insurance.

Officials said storing floodwaters in the lagoons will relieve pumps on the nearby Orleans Avenue drainage canal that work to empty nearby neighborhoods of floodwaters.

The new weir replaces a much smaller water control structure built in the 1930s.

“Hopefully we won’t see it in major use in the future, but I think it’s an opportunity to really have a little better control of our destiny,” said Gerry Barousse, chairman of the Bayou District Foundation, a non-profit organization that re-developed a former public housing complex near the park. It is also involved in the construction of the new golf course.

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