DONALDSONVILLE — The City Council voted Tuesday to bring the West Ascension Drainage District into discussions for drainage work planned by the Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District.
The move came after some council members raised questions about the freshwater district’s plan and its potential effect on parts of the city.
The freshwater district is seeking the city’s support in the district’s bid for capital outlay funds for a drainage improvement project in the upper reaches of the bayou in Donaldsonville.
The district wants to create a pumping structure that would allow it to raise the bayou’s water level through the city to avoid having drains blocked and to increase flow downstream.
The project fits into the district’s mission to provide clean potable water for residents along the bayou, which stretches down to Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes.
Councilman Emile Spano said he could not support a project about which city leaders know little proposed by a group that hasn’t delivered on previous plans.
“Their credibility means nothing,” Spano said of the freshwater district. “They told us about plans with dredging seven or eight years ago and none of that has materialized.”
With the bayou’s current high levels causing backups into drains, Spano said, raising the water level any higher will cause flooding to local landowners.
“Why can’t they invest down the bayou and dredge there,” Spano asked.
The district’s ordinance allows it to raise the bayou’s levels in the city to 9 feet, Mayor Leroy Sullivan said, and the city is powerless to stop the move.
“Their mission is to get fresh water to Lafourche and Terrebonne, and they’re going to do it whether you like it or not,” city attorney Chuck Long said of the freshwater district.
Councilman Reginald Francis Sr. expressed concern that raising the bayou’s water level through the city is not the answer.
“I’m not an engineer, but upgrading the pumps and trying to put all that water through three culverts in this city will not work,” Francis said.
Long suggested the council ask the West Ascension Drainage District to study the proposal and report on the possible impact to the city if the project went forward.