The new chief of the Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. General Robert Van Antwerp, told a New Orleans audience on Thursday May 31, 2007 that three important reports would be released by the Corps this summer. The first report due in June is a comprehensive study of the vulnerability of low lying areas of coastal Louisiana to future hurricanes. This report will show residents of the low lying area how their homes will do during about 150 hypothetical storms.

The second report due in mid-July will provide a cost estimate for completing a large number of hurricane protection projects that Congress has mandated be completed by 2011. These projects are intended to protect the low lying areas from most major hurricanes. The third report due from the Corps next summer will specify the levee, drainage, storm barrier and coastal restoration work needed to guard against the worst storms such as category 5 hurricane.

So far since Hurricane Katrina, the Corps has spent about $1.5 billion of the $5.5 billion that Congress has set aside for hurricane protection.

These reports and the public works projects which will follow are likely to involve a multitude of legal questions and likely litigation related to property and contract rights in general, e.g., expropriation, land use regulation and water rights. Stay tuned to the local news for the fireworks.