Stormwater master plan to be modernized, reflecting current drainage needs

Published 9:22 am Saturday, December 31, 2022

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish officials will likely be evaluating a proposal for a modern comprehensive stormwater master plan, which would update the current plan that has been on the books for close to two decades.

Parish President Jaclyn Hotard explained during the parish council meeting this past Tuesday night in LaPlace that the plan will identify and prioritize drainage capital projects, including projects to be funded through the Hazard Mitigation Program, and promote improved drainage conditions in areas protected by the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee Project.

Hotard said new characteristics of the drainage system will have to be analyzed by modeling the hydraulics and hydrology within the levee protection to plan and validate proposed and future drainage improvements that will be required to prevent flooding.

Councilman Robert Arcuri asked if some of those components of the current plan could be incorporated into the new plan as a possible cost-saving move.

Hotard said the data could potentially be used as a guide or even a starting point but reminded council members the current plan is outdated and that some of the current subdivisions were not even developed then.

“The hydraulics and hydrology, all of that will be changed and especially with (the levee protection project),” Hotard said. “What’s making this so important is that we know West Shore Levee is going to solve some of problems, but we want to make sure it does not create any new problems.”

She added, “Additionally, we know (the existing plan) is so outdated. Much of what in there has really changed.”

In what Hotard called bittersweet, Hurricane Ida’s devastation has provided additional modeling that will allow planners to look at the West Shore Levee Project and incorporate their findings into the new modeling.

An updated plan will help parish officials identify future projects. Hotard said hazard mitigation funding is available but the parish must be able to substantiate those dollars being used to mitigate flood risk.

“You need the new plan to tell you where you have those deficiencies,” she said.

The council approved Hotard’s request to advertise for professional engineering services to develop the plan.

In other council news, workers building the new airnasium at Ezekiel Jackson Park were in for a surprise when they attempted to break up the existing basketball court. Peter Montz, director of purchasing and procurement for the parish, said workers found a concrete slab under the existing court that was at least four inches thick.

The origin of the slab is unknown but TBT Contracting Inc. has been forced to relocate the airnasium and court a short distance to the west, necessitating a $21,613 change order.

Council members also approved a $105,000 change order for street ditch improvements in the area of Chad B. Baker Street, as requested by engineering consultant Joseph Savoie. Savoie said workers form LA Contracting Enterprise discovered unforeseen conflicts with underground utilities caused from shallow water, sewer and gas utilities during ditch excavation.

He said overall the majority of the work has been completed, and the focus is now is to clean up driveways and repair lawns that have been affected during the process.

“They are making it pretty again,” Savoie said.