Ascension Parish officials said this week they expect the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start design of an array of rural water and sewer projects in the next three to four weeks after the Parish Council approved a key funding match.

Parish and Corps officials have said they hope that once the work is completed, the projects will be “shovel ready” for a day when future federal construction funding is available.

“What it does, when you have shovel-ready projects, the next time funding does become available, the parish is strategically positioned to move quickly and obligate those dollars, which helps us get more funds in the future,” Durund Elzey, Corps senior project manager, told the Parish Council Finance Committee May 5.

Parish government spokesman Lester Kenyon said Monday it is not clear how long the design work will take because parish and Corps officials will have to decide on the scope of job.

“It could be complicated or it could be simple. Once we get it done, we’ll have more of an idea,” he said.

Ken Dawson, parish chief administrative officer, told the Finance Committee the design work will benefit a series of projects on the east and west banks.

Planned for design are water line extensions in the La. 70 corridor at the Sunshine Business Park near Donaldsonville and a commercial corridor off La. 3089 near Donaldsonville with what is known as the “Thibaut extension” and extensions to the St. Jude neighborhood and Aben communities on the west bank.

Sewer projects include extending lines down La. 22 from Hillaryville and along South St. Landry Avenue near Gonzales. Those projects are on the east bank.

The South St. Landry system would link up with a treatment plan at the parish-owned Lamar-Dixon Expo Center and possibly run along a future road connecting South St. Landry with the Edenborne development, Dawson said.

The 2001 version of the Water Resources Development Act authorized up to $30 million in projects in Ascension and two other parishes, Elzey said Monday.

Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., told him earlier this year that $500,000 in design dollars had been appropriated. Elzey said the funds came from that three-parish pot of money in the 2014 federal budget legislation.

The funding requires a 25 percent match from the parish. The Corps had some parish funding in hand from past projects, so the council needed to provide an additional $127,000 to fulfill the match requirement.

The full council backed that match, which will come from the east and west bank utilities districts, on May 15 under the consent agenda without opposition.

In a related sewer development May 15, the council granted final approval under the consent agenda to seek State Bond Commission approval for a 20-year $60 million loan for a regional sewer system in the Prairieville area.

Parish officials expect to have authority to incur the new debt in September.