Parish declares war on overgrown ditches

Special to the Herald-Guide
September 30, 2009 at 10:37 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

As the summer draws to a close, many St. Charles Parish residents are noticing a marked improvement in the drainage systems around their homes.

But the difference isn’t being made by multi-million-dollar pumping stations or other expensive equipment. It’s the simple act of cleaning ditches.

“The vast majority of subdivisions in St. Charles Parish use open-swale drainage, which means the ditches are open rather than closed in with culverts and cleanouts,” Public Works Director Sam Scholle said. “Re-digging and cleaning ditches is a cost- and time-effective way to instantly improve drainage.”

Scholle said this recent campaign represents the first parish-wide ditch maintenance program in 10 years or more. Eight crews focused solely on ditch maintenance have been working simultaneously in all council districts.

If residents haven’t seen work going on around them, it’s just a matter of time before they will, according to Public Works Assistant Director Bob Dublan.

“This work has been a high priority for us,” he said. “If interior drainage is not effective, the water never gets to the pumping stations; it never gets to its final destination.”

Crews operate a backhoe to scoop out silt and weeds that have filled in ditches over time, depositing it into a dump truck being operated by another worker. Meanwhile, a crew member uses measurement equipment to ensure the correct depth in between each pass. Crews are also “blowing out” culverts with equipment to rid them of blockages and debris.

“We want to make what we have now work the way it’s supposed to work,” Scholle said.

Crews are paying special attention to the culverts’ relationship to the ditch beds and overall elevation.
For more information about the ditch maintenance program, contact the St. Charles Parish Public Works Department at (985) 783-5102.

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