Gov Edwards discusses flood mitigation with federal officials

Halen Doughty

On Monday Governor John Bel Edwards and state department of transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson travelled to Washington, D.C., to meet with federal officials and talk about proposed flood mitigation projects in Louisiana.

The Comite River Diversion Canal was a major topic of discussion with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is intended to fund the project. The CRDC has been delayed since its approval in 1992 due to federal red tape.

"The state of Louisiana has committed a significant amount of financial resources toward the completion of this project, including $4.8 million since I took office," Governor Edwards said, "We need the Corps to step in to do their part, and this meeting will hopefully give us the assurances we need to advance this project so that residents of this region can begin to see the benefits."

The CRDC has been a key issue for state officials after last year's devastating floods. The state legislature is looking at ways to move the project forward in the hopes of preventing catastrophic flooding in the future.

Gonzales Senator Eddie Lambert said it will take a multi-factional approach to address the flooding problems, and the CRDC will be a large component of the plan. Managing the flood plain will be another aspect. He said building subdivisions in flood prone areas changes the way water flows.

"Water is not able to get where it needs to go because of levees or roads are blocking the water from going into the swamp," Lambert said.

Lambert pointed out that small lots with houses close surrounded by curbs keeps the water from soaking into the ground as it should. He said the water in Baton Rouge should be coming down into Ascension Parish then into the river, but it can't get there because roads, lots, and levees are interfering with the flow of the water.

"Altering the historic flow of water is causing people to flood who never flooded before by displacing the capacity for water," Lambert said.

Dredging could be another solution, along with raising highways to allow water to flow under them. Lambert said these kinds of projects could be done at a nominal cost while still bringing a huge benefit. But he notes in the case of a 1,000-year flood with 25 inches of rain, it still may not be enough.

"When you have something like we had in August, you're going to have flooding, but the hope is to minimize it," Lambert said.

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