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Two trees growing in the middle of Colyell Creek off McLin Road near the town of Livingston trapped these downed trees, piled up against them, to create a potential restriction of water flow downstream during heavy rains, photographed Sept. 13, 2017.


Work to clear three major navigable waterways in Livingston Parish clogged by downed trees, branches and debris from the 2016 floods is expected to start early next year.

"The erosion was unreal. It just uprooted the trees," said Mark Harrell, parish director for homeland security and emergency preparedness.

The Parish Council voted 6-0 Thursday night to spend $354,116 to clean sections of the Tickfaw River, Natalbany River and West Colyell Creek. Councilman Maurice "Scooter" Keen was not present.

These three waterways are main exit routes for water that funnels through drainage ditches and smaller canals during heavy rains.

The funds will serve as a 10 percent match for $3.5 million worth of projects on those waterways. The Natural Resources Conservation Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will pay the remainder. 

Applications to the federal agency say homes, camps and bridges are threatened as a result of the impairments in the waterways.

The project will involve snagging branches and cutting trees out of the waterways. 

Harrell said the parish has obtained most of the needed permits, and he anticipates the project will begin in early 2018.

The Tickfaw River will be cleaned from Tickfaw State Park to the St. Helena Parish Line.  West Colyell Creek will be cleaned from Buddy Ellis Road to the Amite River. 

The Natalbany River will be cleaned from Highway 22 to Interstate 12. Harrell said at a Sept. 14 council meeting that Tangipahoa Parish has agreed to work cooperatively with Livingston Parish on the Natalbany River project and clean the northern part of the river that extends from Interstate 12 into Tangipahoa Parish. 

"Everything through there affects them as well," Harrell said at the time. 

He said Thursday he is also in talks with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help the parish and gravity drainage districts dredge lateral drainage ditches and canals. 

He also reminded the council members that the final deadline to put out flood-related home debris was Monday. Harrell said he knows of 116 sites where debris needs to be picked up. That project will start Monday.

Follow Caroline Grueskin on Twitter, @cgrueskin.