The Laurel Ridge project was held up because of concerns from Livingston Parish. A permit was issued on January 31. The project is currently in final design and ROW acquisition. Construction is also anticipated for mid to late 2019. Daniel reported that it looks like Ascension has come to terms with Livingston on this issue and that it will materialize.

William Daniel became the Infrastructure Director of Ascension Parish in 2017. He spoke to the Gonzales Rotary Club about the current state of drainage in East Ascension on October 23.

Daniel was introduced at the luncheon for having over 35 years of experience in government and in the private sector as an engineer. From 2010-17 he served as Public Works Director, Environmental Service Director and also Chief Administrative Officer in East Baton Rouge.

"I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak here today for an involved group of people who want to work for the betterment of Ascension Parish as much as I do," Daniel said.

Daniel began the presentation lightheartedly saying that he is no a public speaker but rather "just an engineer." This is obviously a joke because Daniel served three terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

His current responsibilities include the Department of Public Works, transportation, and utilities.

"I'm here to talk about drainage, and after 2016 what could be more important," Daniel said. "I was in East Baton Rouge Parish. It's probably the most single defining event of my entire life to have to go through that. I've never seen anything as heart-wrenching. And gut-wrenching, when you're absolutely unable to do anything to help, and you know the water is coming. It's a horrible feeling."

Drainage in Ascension Parish is no easy feat. That is why the East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1 exists. It is a board that consists of East Ascension Parish Councilmen and women.

Daniel presented a powerpoint slideshow to rotarians with Assistant Drainage Director and Operations Manager Ron Savoy's assistance, consisting of 26 slides. Watersheds, pumping stations, and river basins were all shown comprehensively in a series of maps.

Functionality of the Bluff Swamp Basin, the Henderson Bayou Pumping Station, the Marvin Braud Pumping Station, and the Sorrento Pumping station were all touched upon.

Daniel explained that currently the Bluff Swamp Basin is being upgraded with something known as the Fish Bayou Control Structure. It was stated that the proposed upgrade includes two 12'x12' box culverts with sluice gates.

Moreover, these gates will remain normally open until water on Bayou Manchac reaches 4 feet and rising. This mechanism should reduces flood duration by six to seven days during a 100-year flood event. Construction is anticipated for mid to late 2019 contingent on permitting.

The next project discussed was the Laurel Ridge Levee Extension. This is an approximately 4.5 mile levee to protect residents of Ascension Parish from riverine flooding of Amite River. It contains seven outfall structures which allow internal storage and gravity drainage of system.

The Laurel Ridge project was held up because of concerns from Livingston Parish. A permit was issued on January 31. The project is currently in final design and ROW acquisition. Construction is also anticipated for mid to late 2019.

Daniel reported that it looks like Ascension has come to terms with Livingston on this issue and that it will materialize.

Lastly, the New River Channel Improvements Project was presented. It is a major maintenance project designed to improve the conditions within the New River Channel to provide additional storm water storage during storm events. The project area consists of the 2.7 mile section of New River from the confluence of Smith Bayou to the existing New River control structure.

Drainage funding was also touched upon. Capital projects are funded with a half-cent sales tax. Maintenance Projects, on the other hand, are funded by Property Tax Millage.

"We have to start thinking of flood protection as regional," he said. "Because if we don't look at it from a regional standpoint, there's not enough money that East Baton Rouge has, Livingston Parish, or Ascension Parish has to protect themselves by themselves."

Daniel also spoke on how simpler Public Works needs are addressed. His department is pressed for manpower for all the calls they get. He has begun to prioritize projects based on safety needs first, and then in terms of how many people will be helped.