VACHERIE — The St. James Parish Council is closer to forming a parishwide flood control committee.
Councilman Jason Amato, who is preparing an ordinance to form the committee, said he hopes the tentatively named St. James Parish Flood Protection & Drainage Committee would help address drainage problems and develop a flood risk management system.
Earlier this spring, the parish was inundated with 14.21 inches of rainfall over 48 hours beginning May 28 that flooded more than 100 homes.
The parish also faces backwater flooding that most memorably occurred during Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
The committee would be made up of two sub-committees: one with 11 members representing the parish’s east bank and a second with seven members representing the parish’s west bank, Amato said.
These subcommittees would to include St. James Parish Council members, residents and representatives from the Pontchartrain and Lafourche levee districts and the towns of Gramercy and Lutcher.
Councilman Ken Brass asked Amato if the number of residents on the West Bank task force could be increased from two to three and also asked if improving parish sewage could be added to the task force’s duties.
That sparked debate among council members on whether sewage improvement should be included and if the parish has the tax dollars to improve the sewage system.
Amato said he hopes the conversations and projects resulting from the committee could help guide the parish’s budget process on flood protection and drainage.
In related business Wednesday, Dennis M. Hymel Jr., project manager with T. Baker Smith engineers, updated the Parish Council on a drainage survey of the Vacherie area and the Upper St. James Parish Drainage Basin.
Hymel said he hopes to receive an emergency permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge Bayou Verret to get its water flowing in the proper direction. Sediment has built up in one area of the bayou and has formed whirlpools that cause the water to flow north instead of south.
Hymel did not have a cost estimate for the dredging project but said the cost could be shared among affected parishes.