Council seeks help to improve city drainage issues

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley

Mayor Leroy Sullivan brought to the city council’s attention a letter he was asked to sign in support of a Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District drainage project. However, after some discussion the council agreed it wasn’t in favor of the potential work, despite not being asked for funds. It voted instead to adopt a resolution for the West Ascension Drainage District to study.

 City Attorney Chuck Long explained that the BLFWD doesn’t want money from the city, just support in the district’s bid for capital outlay funds for a drainage improvement project.

 The BLFWD wants to create a pumping structure that would allow it to raise the bayou’s water level through the city to avoid having drains blocked and to increase downstream flow.

 “They want to identify all the drains going into the bayou, make a temporary structure so they could raise the water level so our waterways won’t be clogged up,” Long said. “They want to do it at their expense. That’s their obligation. They just want our support but not our money.”

 However, council members Emile Spano and Reginald Francis spoke clearly in saying there are better ways to get the job done than what is being proposed.

 “Their credibility means nothing,” Spano said about the freshwater district. “We don’t really know what they’re doing. I can’t see supporting them on something we know nothing about. I’m all for the betterment of the city but you have to give me more information rather than just telling me you’re going to do something to pump the water out of town.”

 With the bayou’s current high levels causing backups into drains, Spano said raising the water level another six to eight inches would cause flooding to residents along the bayou

 “If you’re going to do something, start down the bayou,” Spano said, referring to the BLFWD. “Why does it have to be Donaldsonville all the time?”

Mayor Sullivan said he brought it to the council’s attention before signing off on it because he wanted to see how if it would be in favor of the job. He said the BLFWD’s ordinance allows it to raise the bayou’s levels in the city to up to nine feet, and the city “can’t do anything about it.”

 Francis said he understands what the BLFWD is trying to do but expressed concern that raising the bayou’s water level through the city is not the answer.

 “I’m not an engineer but upgrading the pumps and still pumping all that water through three culverts just won’t work,” Francis said, talking about the culverts under the railroad bridge. “Whatever it is they are talking about building should be the last resort.”

 Long suggested the council adopt a resolution for the West Ascension Drainage District to study the proposal and report on the possible impact to the city if the project went forward.

 “That’s the people that should be discussing this or in the at least in the discussion with us with the fresh water district,” Long said. “Because this is a drainage issue and we pay taxes for it.”

 Also in the meeting:

 City Attorney Chuck Long told the council he is working on a proposal for a new tax agreement to present first to the city council and if approved he could present to the Parish of Ascension. This comes after the parish and city tax agreement expired on May 1 that caused an 11 percent taxing district in Donaldsonville.

 Resident Tamiko Garrison presented a potential Youth Advisory Council for the city for high tenth and eleventh graders. Garrison explained there would have to be recommendations and requirements for the students to uphold.