Canal dumpers are our drainage problem

Published 11:45 pm Friday, August 22, 2014

• Keeping parish waterways free of obstructions is essential for the natural drainage of the area.

• We are committed to continuing to work to keep these canals clean and ask that our residents assist our efforts by refraining from dumping trash in all canals and ditches throughout the parish.

St. John Parish Public Works Director Brian Nunes made those two statements this week during discussion about the recently completed cleaning and clearing project that targeted 21 canals in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Everyone in the parish is concerned with drainage and flooding, especially after early summer bouts of regular, hard storms led to widespread street flooding.

However, parish workers are constantly battling the issue on two fronts.

For one, this is South Louisiana and hard rain will always be part of our lives.

For two, some in the community make things worse by continually dumping trash into the canals.

One parish employee suggested certain residents are their own worst enemies for drainage because they become concerned when streets flood but show no caution when disposing items into the canals.

Things recently pulled from area canals include wooden fence boards, ice chests, motorcycle helmets and sofas — wooden boards are especially dangerous because they often get caught in drainage pumps.

St. John Sheriff Mike Tregre said his office doesn’t receive too many calls from residents blowing the whistle on illegal dumping, but said deputies do respond to such complaints when made.

“If we caught them in the act or if somebody gave us a tip, we would go out there and cite them for littering,” Tregre said. “The fines are pretty substantial.”

Tregre said his office receives calls about shopping carts being dumped in ditches, adding area businesses rarely pursue the issue when a suspect is implicated for the crime.

“Our businesses don’t want to have anybody arrested for thefts,” he said. “We don’t have criminal charges to pursue, because the businesses wish not to pursue criminal charges. I don’t have a victim.”

Whether through criminal charges or personal responsibility, we all have a part to play in improving drainage in St. John the Baptist Parish.

When you see someone illegally dumping junk into area canals, turn them into the Sheriff’s Office. Otherwise, our waterways will continue to clog with trash and debris.