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Four-wheelers ripped up the flood protection side of the levee in lower coast Algiers over the holidays, according to officials with the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West. Vehicles are not allowed on public levees without a permit and violators face trespassing charges if caught, officials said. (Courtesy SLFPA-West)

Four-wheelers caused severe damage to Algiers levees over holidays, officials say

By Andrea Shaw, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune  January 07, 2015

All-terrain vehicles ripped up the flood-side berm of levees in lower coast Algiers, including sections recently repaired at a cost of $40,000, West Bank levee authority officials said. Operating vehicles on the barriers without a permit is illegal, said John Monzon, regional director for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West.

About two to three acres of damage was discovered in lower Algiers during a routine inspection after the winter holidays, Monzon said. An area in Westwego also was affected. It costs about $4,000 per acre for materials and labor to repair the damage.

“We typically see some damage after a holiday break or a weekend,” Monzon said. “It’s always rather minor. This was pretty extensive in an area where we just finished making some repairs.”

Damage from the four-wheelers threaten the integrity of the levees by destroying grass and making them more susceptible to erosion, Monzon said. In addition, the ruts created by the vehicles hold standing water.

State law forbids vehicles on public levees without a permit. Violations are considered criminal trespassing, which carries a maximum fine of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for three or more offenses.

The damage was as severe as the destruction from feral hogs, which tear through levees looking for grubworms and roots to eat, officials said.

Anyone who sees four-wheeler activity on the levees is asked to call the West Bank levee authority at 504.340.0318.