NOAA 03-R426
Contact: Glenda Tyson
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Today, officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) joined community organizations to dedicate the St. Charles Parish Water Level Monitoring System in St. Charles Parish, La. This real-time water level monitoring system will provide critical information that can save lives, and protect property and the environment in the Louisiana community. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Public safety is a major NOAA mission and this real-time water level monitoring system will be instrumental in providing important information to the citizens of Louisiana, assisting in assuring their safety,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

The system consists of two new real-time water level stations - one in Lake Pontchartrain in Norco at Bayou LaBranche and the other in Lake Salvador at Bayou Gauche. These new stations reduce the gap in water level information in Louisiana where there are two existing NOAA National Ocean Service National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON) stations in Grande Isle and SW Pass. Additionally, the Norco, Bayou LaBranche station will be instrumental in modeling efforts for the restoration of the LaBranche wetlands.

"This joint effort between the Parish and NOAA to implement the St. Charles Parish Water Level Monitoring System will provide critical information for determining the impact of storm surge, sea level rise and subsidence in Louisiana,” said Mike Szabados, director, Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS). “This information will enable St. Charles Parish emergency managers to effectively plan and execute evacuations during coastal flooding events, thereby helping to save lives and property."

Data from all four water level stations, including meteorological data, will be displayed on the local Data Acquisition System in the Parish Emergency Operations Center located in the Hahnville Courthouse across from the Parish government offices. Residents of St. Charles Parish and neighboring parishes will be able to access the data in real-time over the Internet and by telephone. Information from the water level monitoring system will also go directly to the NOAA National Weather Service to help improve storm surge and hurricane modeling efforts.

"This is going to tell us, even during the event, what kind of water levels we’re getting," St. Charles Parish Coastal Zone Administrator Earl Matherne said. "We'll know where our issues are going to be, instead of having to depend on people to call in problems."

During the ceremony, Lautenbacher will recognize the efforts of the Parish President, the Norco Civic Association, the Marsh Duck Club, the Bayou Gauche Volunteer Fire Department, and the Bayou LaBranche Wetlands Fund in helping to make the new system a reality. Also, the first official phone calls to the water level stations will be made to obtain the water level elevations in real-time.

These two new stations will supplement the NWLON, which is the foundation for the National Water Level Program (NWLP) operated and maintained by CO-OPS. The NWLON consists of 175 long-term, continuously operating water level stations throughout the United States, its island possessions and territories.

NOAA National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

The Commerce Department’s NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resource.

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