THIBODAUX — Anyone with an interest in the future of Bayou Lafourche will have an opportunity next month to voice concerns and contribute to a long-range development plan for the waterway.
The Bayou Lafourche Summit, hosted by the Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District, will take place Oct. 10-17 in the Cotillion Ballroom at Nicholls State University.
Information gathered from a series of public meetings during the summit will be used to help create a plan to address drinking water, navigation, drainage and coastal restoration projects.
All South Consulting Engineers Vice President Stephen Smith, whose firm is coordinating the summit, said Wednesday the district is looking to gain input from anyone with an interest in the bayou.
“The purpose of the summit is to develop a long range, 50-year master plan for the bayou that the district can use to manage the bayou’s resources effectively and efficiently,” he said.
“With this summit, we want to learn what the people need the bayou for, and what their needs are now and in the future.”
The Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District works to maintain freshwater flow into the bayou and provide potable water for more than 300,000 residents living along the waterway.
The district’s board of commissioners has come under increased pressure in recent years to address coastal restoration issues, Smith said. Demand also has risen in recent years to make the bayou more navigable in certain areas for recreation and tourism purposes.
“In the past couple of years, the board has seen more people attend their meetings asking to do more things with the bayou than have been done in past years,” Smith said.
At a kickoff meeting on at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, the district will review the history of the bayou’s pump station and will also discuss issues facing the bayou.
Subsequent meetings with individual groups will then be held daily from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 11-14, Smith said. These meetings will allow for discussion on specific issues.
“For instance, one meeting will be about drainage,” Smith said. “Another will focus on saltwater intrusion. Different parts of the bayou face different issues, so we want to allow for pinpointed discussion on these topics.”
The summit will close on Oct. 17, with a wrap-up meeting. There, Smith said, a summary report from the week’s meetings will be presented to the board.
Following the summit, the committee will review the results before presenting the report to the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Bayou Lafourche.
Bayou Lafourche begins at the Mississippi River in Donaldsonville and flows southeast for more than 100 miles through Ascension, Assumption, and Lafourche parishes, ending at the Gulf of Mexico near Port Fourchon.