The City of Central has stated that since the 2016 flood it has cleaned or removed debris from an estimated linear footage of drainage channels at 248,420 feet, or 47 miles. The Advocate has reported that Livingston Parish is receiving $50 million from the federal government to clear 300 miles of waterways. What type and kind of drainage work has East Baton Rouge Parish completed since the 2016 flood?
Fred Raiford, director of the East Baton Rouge Department of Transportation and Drainage, says the city-parish has been moving forward with many drainage projects.
"First of all, the city has submitted for federal funds through National Resources Conservation Service to address a major slope failure on many channels throughout the parish. We did receive approval for the work on Weiner Creek, which drains parts of the South Sherwood Forest and Coursey Boulevard areas. Work was completed and the ditch is functioning properly. Also, the channel that drains to Jones Creek was improved. We received about $400,000 to do repairs.
"East Baton Rouge Parish has also submitted for $200 million in federal funds to address many of the channels and bridge crossings in our parish to help remove old crossings and improve channel sections on many of our major drainage channels. Some are Bayou Fountain, Ward's Creek, Dawson Creek, Jones Creek for channel improvement in particular locations. Most of these are for removing restrictions within the channel. We do feel that some of these will be approved.
"Our top priority is to advance our Storm Water Master Plan more quickly. While the city-parish has provided about $1.5 million to the plan, we are seeking the remaining from federal dollars. We still need about $10 million to complete the plan and not have to use local funding. We are waiting on the state GOHSEP (Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness) and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) approval of the projects in the next few months.
"Also, East Baton Rouge Parish is working with the state Department of Transportation and Development, the Amite River Basin Commission, and the Army Corps of Engineers for construction of the Comite River Diversion Canal. This is major drainage improvement for EBR Parish and Livingston Parish which cost about $360 million. This is 100 percent federally funded which when completed will enhance the drainage for the northern part of the parish and additional drainage benefits will be received for thousands of people along the Comite and Amite rivers.
"The second major improvement to drainage is the Corps of Engineers enhancement of the five drainage channels that drain three-quarters of this parish: clearing and snagging of debris and some channel enlargements of the Bayou Fountain, Wards Creek, Jones Creek, Beaver Bayou and Blackwater Bayou for a total of $255 million. These are currently under design and clearing of some of the channels will begin in June 2019.
"While East Baton Rouge Parish will have over $700 million committed to these improvements, we are also making sure that the improvements proposed in our parish do not create a problem to our downstream parishes."