Local leaders request permits for Bayou Manchac drainage project

Source: Ascension Parish government
Source: Ascension Parish government
Source: Ascension Parish government
Source: Ascension Parish government
Source: Ascension Parish government
Source: Ascension Parish government
Source: Ascension Parish government
Source: Ascension Parish government

(WAFB) - Leaders in three parishes have signed their names to a proposal that, if approved, could prevent flooding in areas devastated during the August 2016 flood. It involves clearing and deepening the ten miles of Bayou Manchac.

The water that flows through historic Bayou Manchac appears slow and peaceful most days, but when it rains, it becomes a major drainage artery that directly impacts Ascension, East Baton Rouge, and Iberville Parishes.

Ascension Parish government spokesman, Martin McConnell, explains that much of the water from all three ends up in the Spanish Lake Basin. Once full, it begins to back up into Manchac Bayou and eventually the Amite River. McConnell says it's why some homes suffered more damage than others last August.

"The people in this area had water in their homes and they stayed flooded longer than the people in other areas because the water was backed up into the basin and it could not get out," said McConnell.

During a recent boat trip down Bayou Manchac, local and state leaders took pictures of what they consider to be major obstructions to drainage. There were fallen trees, limbs holding debris, and sunken boats that made a good portion of the bayou nearly impassable. Leaders in all three parishes have signed off on a letter asking the president of the Pontchartrain Levee District to help them get permits to clean and dredge the Bayou.

Ascension Parish Councilman Benny Johnson says long gone are the days of keeping the bayou beautiful. It's now time to look at waterway as a critical solution to drainage issues that have crippled the region. "That area controls drainage for a large portion of this region, and it's important and we need to make sure that's cleaned out so it can do its job," said Johnson.

While parish leaders say it's too early to determine how much it will cost to fund the project, they are hoping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will approve the permits to help them get started.

"If we are going to do something about flooding, we have to approach it from a regional basis," said McConnell.

The Pontchartrain Levee District is set to present the letter to the board at its meeting later this month.

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