Drainage study planned to rid parish of street flooding
Sam Scholle, director of public works and wastewater, plans to redo a master drainage study of St. Charles Parish this year because the one currently in place is seriously outdated. Scholle says flooding in subdivisions needs to be corrected and it's a problem that's decades old.
"The last time a master drainage study was done in St. Charles Parish was in 1994," Scholle said. "We need a new study to help identify and prioritize critical flood prone areas in the parish and start to correct them."
And although the current parish administration encourages new housing development because it's good for the parish's economy, Scholle says developers need to incorporate plans for the subdivisions already in existing communities when they make a drainage plan.
"Developers have to create drainage plans for their subdivision in order to get their subdivisions dedicated by the parish," he said. "But what we need for them to do when making a drainage plan is to consider the neighborhood or subdivision that's already there."
For example, anyone who wants to develop a new neighborhood, must make sure that the placement of that subdivision won’t affect drainage to areas near them.
"That water has to drain somewhere," Scholle said. "That means unless a plan is in place to adequately consider both the new and old subdivision, drainage problems could continue."
Scholle says that several things have hindered his department from proceeding forward with parish projects; one of them is not having permits to do the work.
"You know St. Charles Parish is surrounded by wetlands," he said. "One of the main reasons we haven't progressed on some parish projects is because its difficult to obtain permits from the Army Corps of Engineers because those wetlands are protected.
Scholle says that getting permits can delay a project for weeks or months at a time.
"We're in the process of correcting drainage problems for River Ridge," he said. "When it rains they get at least two feet of water in the subdivision."
The problems in River Ridge only highlight the drainage issues that occurs parishwide.
"There's not a good drainage plan in place for the parish," Scholle said. "I'm working right now to get that corrected."
Scholle says debris in ditches, culverts and pump stations need to be cleaned and bar cleaners need to be installed to keep flooding out of neighborhoods parishwide.
"There are five pump stations scheduled to get bar cleaners right away," he said. "The first is the pump station near Cousins Canal in the Willowdale and Willowridge area, followed by Ama, Paradis and Des Allemands’ pump stations."
The automatic bar cleaners that catch debris before they get into culverts and drains vary in price.
"The one at Cousins Canal will cost the parish about $3 million to install," he said. "That's because the concrete bulkhead that surrounds the bar cleaner is expensive."
Scholle says it's a safety issue.
"I'd rather have to pay this amount for the automated system than to risk the lives of our parish workers," he said. "In a storm event, its risky sending them out to clean debris due to thunder and lightening and the high winds that sometimes comes with bad weather. We want to keep our guys safe."
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