Update on waterway debris removal presented to Ascension Parish Council

Michael Tortorich
Donaldsonville Chief
In this screen capture from Ascension21 on YouTube, Ascension Parish Council members view photos of progress being made on waterway debris removal along Bayou Manchac.

The Ascension Parish Council received an update on debris removal efforts for waterways throughout the parish during the Jan. 20 virtual meeting.

As part of Ascension Parish President Clint Coinment's report, council members were given a presentation from Jarret Bauer of All South Consulting Engineers on the Hurricane Ida waterway debris removal operations.

About 12 miles of waterways were cleared, which included Bayou Manchac, Bayou Conway, Panama Canal, and New River - all reported as active waterways. Several other bayous and canals were listed as permitted waterways.

Debris is picked up and loaded in a barge, then transported to the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales for temporary disposal. Vegetative debris is mulched into piles then disposed of at the landfill.

The presentation included several photos showing many large trees blocking the waterways.

Bauer said the operations will continue.

After opening for questions, District 4's Corey Orgeron asked about the funding of the program.

Bauer said the project is funded through a FEMA program, which reimburses 90 percent while the parish covers 10 percent.

Cointment said it is a parish-wide initiative that includes work on both the east and west banks.

"You want to handle it through the parish because it is parish-wide. That's east bank and west bank under the FEMA guidelines. There is no co-mingling of funds for match money. It comes straight from the parish, and then we're reimbursed," the parish president said.

In other matters:

-- Council members approved a cooperative agreement with East Baton Rouge Parish to clean out debris from Bayou Manchac.

The waterway's banks serve as boundaries for the neighboring parishes.

-- The council approved a cooperative agreement with the Ascension Parish 4-H and Livestock Show. 

Orgeron proposed amending the agreement to increase the funding to $10,000 this year due to inflation. The council approved without objection.

The event will be Feb. 3 through Feb. 5 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, manager Renee Castro said.

Parishes will include Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Lafourche, Terrebonne, and West Feliciana.

-- District 7's Aaron Lawler expressed concerns over voting on the fleet fuel system contract.

He made a motion to amend the extension to three months and go out for bids within the period.

Chief Financial Officer Patrick Goldsmith said he agreed with the idea. He added that he will make sure the existing contract is given to council members.

Lawler's amended motion passed.

-- The council approved a cooperative endeavor agreement with the City of Donaldsonville on use of the Lemann Memorial Center.

Ascension Parish Recreation programs have been utilizing the Donaldsonville facility.

District 1's Alvin "Coach" Thomas, who represents the west side, said he was grateful and thankful in getting the facility "up to par for the community and the kids of the west bank."

-- Council members approved use of parish facilities at the South Louisiana Fairgrounds for Ascension Catholic Schools, and a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Ascension Parish School Board for road improvements on Parker Road and Hwy. 929.