West Baton Rouge Parish Council member Phil Porto doesn't want clogged culverts or other glitches in the parish's sewer systems to turn residential streets into temporary lakes should there be another series of heavy rains like the ones that caused the Great Flood of 2016.
So, Porto is urging parish officials sit down with the mayors from the parish's three municipalities to draw up a master plan for drainage in West Baton Rouge.
Parish President Riley "Pee Wee" Berthelot, however, doesn't sound too receptive to the suggestion.
It's not because he doesn't think it's a good idea, but drainage is one area Berthelot says the parish already handles well.
"To do a parishwide drainage study is really unnecessary," he said Monday. "I meet with the mayors once a month to discuss any issues that come up. Sometimes when they have jobs too big for them to handle, we go in and give them a hand."
Berthelot said the administration stresses the need for flood mitigation to developers looking to build new subdivisions in the parish. Many do so by installing retention ponds, he said.
Last month's devastating floods could mean an uptick in the West Baton Rouge housing market if flood victims look to replant roots on drier land.
Porto doesn't share the same confidence, giving the parish administration a grade of a C-minus for drainage.
"If you drive around and look at some of our major canals … I don't know the last time they've been cleaned out," Porto said. "We need to sit down with those folks with the understanding that if money was no object, what would we do to solve these problems."
Porto's concerns were sparked by comments Addis leaders made at a Town Council meeting early this month during which several projects were announced to ease concerns over light flooding during heavy downpours.
West Baton Rouge Parish as a whole experienced minimal flooding last year when so many parishes in the surrounding region were swamped by floodwaters at record-setting levels.
Addis Mayor David Toups said Monday that floodwater seeped into only two Addis homes during the August 2016 floods. But one of the town's newer subdivisions, Sugar Hollow, has been dealing with frequent flash flooding whenever there is heavy rain.
"We're looking at ways to try and divert water from that area because that subdivision takes a lot of water that's draining across (La. 1) to get to the parish canal," Toups said.
The mayor also acknowledged that approximately 40 percent of the culverts in the town are clogged with debris. Toups said the town is working with the parish to clear some of the culverts and the town has also secured federal and state dollars to finance drainage studies, improvements and inspections to local sewer lines.
"We don't want to wait until we have a problem. We want to plan ahead and take care of some things because we have a lot of growth going on," Toups said.
The parish's residential boom, which officials say spiked after the 2016 floods, is another reason Porto intends to push the administration hard on drafting a master plan for drainage.
"I think this needs to be done," Porto said. "The parish is growing pretty fast. East Baton Rouge Parish is coming up with a master plan for drainage. We need to, too."
When a Baton Rouge resident asks the city-parish to clear a ditch, haul debris from a canal or fix the eroding bank of a bayou, they may face …