Garyville-area canals next in line for cleanup

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2010



LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish officials said this week they have received a state permit to begin clearing trees and other debris from the Hope Canal in the Garyville and Mt. Airy area.

Hope Canal is one of several drainage tributaries on the east bank that feed rainwater from parish neighborhoods into the Reserve Relief Canal and out to Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas. The canals run through protected wetlands and require a permit for cleanup work.

The parish began the process of securing permits to clean the canals in February when work began on the Vicknair and Ridgefield canals in LaPlace.

“Cleaning the Hope Canal is going to help drainage issues in Garyville and Mt Airy tremendously,” said Parish Councilman Danny Millet, who represents those areas. “I am glad that over two years of hard work and diligence finally paid off.”

St. John acting Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe said the Hope Canal permit comes on the heels of a similar permit for the Moll Canal on the west bank of the parish. He said the parish is also seeking a permit to extend a dredging project in the Reserve Relief Canal, which drains LaPlace and Reserve.

“We are securing the permits for five years so that we can readily go out and clear debris prior to hurricane season,” Boe said. “Clearing the canals is vital to our gravity-based drainage system.”

Boe said in the past four months, the parish has completed work to clear eight of the 28 major drainage canals that serve the parish. He said the parish is clearing out trees, branches and other debris that has collected over the past 15 years.

“We are finding that water levels in some of our open canals and ditches are at their lowest levels in quite some time,” Boe said. “Water also no longer collects on Highway 51 where it intersects with Old 51.”

In February, the parish spent $33,000 to rent a marsh buggy to complete the earlier excavation work.

Boe said the parish was able to completely clear three canals in the one-month time period.

“We are considering a new rental for this upcoming work, but we are still determining the length of the lease,” Boe said. “We are working on an agreement with the Lafourche Basin Levee District to clean our west bank canals, but if they can’t do it in time for the peak of hurricane season, the parish will look to hire a contractor.”