Bayou Lafourche plan outlined

Aaron E. Looney

DONALDSONVILLE – Members of the Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District visited the Ascension Parish Council’s meeting Thursday at the Parish Courthouse, where they updated the council on the planned dredging project for the bayou.

The dredging was deemed necessary after the bayou became polluted during Hurricane Gustav, contaminating water that is used by about 300,000 people for drinking and other uses. Pumps on the bayou located in Donaldsonville failed during the storm, causing water to back up and become contaminated with sewerage.

The bayou, which begins in Donaldsonville as a tributary of the Mississippi River, flows all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

District Director Archie Chaisson told the council that the dredging will take place upstream in Donaldsonville over a six-mile stretch, to allow more water to flow from the Mississippi River into the bayou and increase pumping capacity without flooding homes.

Parish President Tommy Martinez told the council that the project will cost about $20 million.

Jerome Zeringue of the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities told the council that while the impact to landowners along the bayou would  be minimal, Martinez wanted assurance that Ascension Parish residents would be fairly compensated for any damages incurred during the dredging project, such as removal of private bulkheads or soil.

Zeringe said the district hoped to begin surveying the project later this month.

In other matters, Adrian Percy of Percy and Co. presented results from a survey commissioned by the council’s Recreation Committee in August. According to the survey, 55 percent of those quizzed said they would be willing to pay a dedicated recreation tax up to $75 per year to improve parish recreation.

In explaining the results, Percy pointed out that when asked what amenities they would like to see at parish parks, many of those polled said they wished to see more walking and jogging trails and picnic areas, among other aspects.

Percy suggested that the council create a master plan for parish recreation and hold town hall meetings to gain public input on what should be done to improve parish recreational facilities.

In other matters, the council”

The council also voted to introduce the proposed 2009 budget and the amended 2008 budget, both of which will be voted on at the council’s meeting Nov. 20 in Gonzales.

The council will also meet Thursday as the board of review for parish property assessment disputes. The meeting will take place at 5 p.m. in the council chambers, prior to the council’s Finance Committee meeting. As of Thursday, the parish had received 24 property assessment disputes.