Ascension, Livingston work together to solve drainage issues

Staff Report

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment and Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks have jointly announced a new cooperation between the two parishes to work together on regional drainage issues.

The two presidents have been meeting over the past several months to discuss issues critical to both. They found more common ground than differences.

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment

“Storm water does not recognize borders,” Cointment said. “The best way to solve our drainage issues is by working together. Communication is essential in order for the region to handle its’ water and flooding issues. It is critically important that both parishes work together to maximum the benefit of our portion of the $1.2 billion flood relief money available through the Community Development Block Grant Mitigation Funding, which was provided for relief to Louisiana due to the 2016 Flood. Working together ensures maximum benefit and utilization of these dollars to benefit drainage improvements."

Cointment praised the leadership and assistance of Gov. John Bel Edwards, Congressman Garret Graves, the Ponchartrain Levee District, Ascension Parish Council members past and present, Parish President Layton Ricks and his council members for facilitating the meetings and the cooperation to find a joint resolution.

Cointment also thanked the East Ascension Drainage Commissions’ Chairman Dempsey Lambert and Vice Chair Chase Melancon for their constant diligence on this matter.

“It is important to find common ground to relieve flooding and drainage issues for Livingston Parish as well as Ascension Parish residents,” Ricks said. “Initial engineering reports on the Laurel Ridge Levee Project indicated possible adverse effects on Livingston Parish. In working with Parish President Cointment, Congressman Garret Graves and Governor John Bel Edwards, we were able to realize funding for the LA 22 Project as well as the Comite Diversion Project. As a result, we are now being assured by our engineers that Livingston Parish will not be adversely affected by the levee extension project.

“Livingston Parish’s lawsuit was never filed with the intent to stop Ascension Parish from doing what is necessary to protect their residents,” he added. “It did give us time to find a way to offset any adverse effects to our Parish. We appreciate the patience of President Cointment and the Ascension Parish Council as well as the Pontchartrain Levee District in allowing our engineers time to review all the necessary studies. I also appreciate the support of the Livingston Parish Council. The Governor assured funding for the LA 22 Project, which allowed us to dismiss the lawsuit and work with Ascension to resolve our drainage issues.

“I think the people of Livingston Parish can view this as a win/win. These projects will not cost the taxpayers of Livingston Parish, but we will certainly realize a benefit from them. “This process has gone a long way in solidifying our relationship with Ascension Parish, Congressman Graves and Governor Edwards in viewing drainage as a regional issue and working together to resolve the drainage issues for all involved,”

Through this working partnership Ascension and Livingston’s engineers will meet and collaborate on current and future flooding and drainage impacts for our regions. Ascension and Livingston agree that they will support the LA Water Initiative application for the LA 22 gapping project and any additional effort to identify and obtain any other funding or resources available to further enhance and expedite the permitting and construction of the project. This project and others helped lead the two parishes to agree to bring the issue over the Laurel Ridge levee extension to a conclusion.