LIVINGSTON — Livingston's parish president is unhappy about a neighboring parish's plan to build a levee that could exacerbate flooding in his community.
Layton Ricks said he felt blindsided after reading a newspaper report about Ascension Parish getting a key permit to build a 4.5-mile flood protection levee across the Amite River from French Settlement.
"I don't blame them for wanting to do what they can do with the money they've got," Ricks told the Livingston Parish Council on Thursday night. "But I'm not happy about it."
Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa announced Monday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed off on the Laurel Ridge levee extension project, The Advocate reported. The project, which has been in the works since the 1970's, would protect parts of eastern Ascension Parish that are subject to chronic flooding and were hard hit in August 2016.
GONZALES — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has signed off a key permit for an important but also controversial extension of an Ascension Pari…
Conservative estimates provided in permit documents indicate that, while protecting some 500 people behind the levee, the levee could raise water levels outside the levee district by three-quarters of an inch in a 100-year flood.
Ricks said he thinks the figure is an underestimate that does not account for the cumulative effect when water backs up in southern Livingston Parish.
"This is going to be more of an adverse effect than three-quarters of an inch, regardless of whatever the engineer says," Ricks told the council.
He added that for some people three-quarters of an inch more water would have flooded their homes during the August 2016 flood.
Ascension Parish's flood prevention efforts, including pumps and levees, are a long-standing source of frustration to some residents of lower Livingston Parish who say it worsens flooding for them. Officials in French Settlement and Port Vincent this week were voicing concern about the levee project.
Ricks said learning about the levee's permit in the newspaper was especially aggravating because he has been talking with other parish presidents, including Matassa, about working as a group to combat flooding problems.
"There should have been discussions with other parishes to let us know what was going on, to get our input and to show us the studies," Ricks said after the meeting.
Ricks said he plans to have parish engineers review plans and studies done for the levee project to find out exactly what the effect will be in Livingston Parish.
Ricks said he will return to the council later this month with a resolution that will echo one made in 2014 requesting legislation mandating parishes to provide drainage impact studies to one another when they embark on waterway expansions, pumping stations or levees.
"I know a resolution is not law, but I think we need to make our voice be known and heard," Ricks said.