Jury discusses drainage problems

Published 11:40 am Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Police jurors want to do something about a potential parish-wide flood before a rainy season catches everyone off guard.

Jurors heard from representatives of the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the state office of Homeland Security at Monday night’s meeting to plan a drainage study.

The major concern is over pumps at Cocodrie Bayou that cannot drain water due to sand, silt and other blockages.

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The pumps at the Tensas Cocodrie Pumping Plant near Monterey control water levels in the Mississippi, Ouachita, Black and Red rivers.

The pumps are situated at the intersection of Cocodrie Bayou, Wild Cow Bayou and the Black River.

Jury President Melvin Ferrington said the parish needed to establish a drainage program before it was too late.

“You don’t have to have a high river,” he said. “If we get 8 to 10 inches of rain it backs up. You can’t get the water to the pumps after a high rain.”

Local Homeland Security Director Morris White said the situation was a very dangerous one because of the ring levees surrounding Concordia Parish. In the event of a flood, the whole parish would become something of a bathtub.

“All of us (in the state) had discussed New Orleans for years and years and years,” White said. “And we never seemed to get around to fixing it. Well, you see what happened in New Orleans. We could very well have little New Orleans right here.”

Ferrington said the parish worked with the Corps of Engineers in 1994 on a feasibility study to correct the Cocodrie drainage problems, but now they need to start working to get the money.