Opponents of Comite River Diversion speak out

(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

ZACHARY, LA (WAFB) - Frustration was on display this week during a meeting at the state capitol on the Comite River Diversion.

Local leaders believe the unfinished project, which was started over thirty years ago and never finished, would have  greatly helped during the August Flood.

The U-S Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for building the canal, which would take water from the Comite and Amite Rivers into the Mississippi River.

While supporters of the project have been vocal about its construction, there are some who feel it's not the savior people think it is.

Kathy Rogillio has lived on Barnett Road in Zachary for sixty six years, and remembers when the diversion first came about in the 1980s. She says the canal wouldn't do anything for the people of Zachary even though they pay taxes for it.

"Anything north of the diversion canal, which a lot of Zachary is north of the diversion canal will not benefit at all from the construction of it even though we're in the same taxing district," Rogillio said.

She also says that if the diversion were built as planned, just a few miles from her home, drainage water from Bayou Baton Rouge would be slowed down, threatening her home during a flood.

Floodwaters were twenty eight inches high at her home in August.

"If the canal just built, it will cause me to flood more. There's no doubt about it, as water seeks its own level," Rogillio said. She says her friends and neighbors have gone to meetings with the Army Corps to express their concerns, but it hasn't stopped the project from moving forward.

They are concerned because the city has grown substantially during that time, especially since they established their own independent school system.

"They need to look at the totality of the project," said Joe Aldridge, Rogillio's neighbor. "What they've looked at is the part of the project that diverts water from the Comite River to the Mississippi River. They have not looked at the ramifications."

Rogillio ran for a U.S. Congressional seat in 2000 with the main purpose of cancelling the project, but lost to congressman Richard Baker.
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