By Terry L. Jones
July 20, 2012
“I’m sorry that it had to come to this, because I consider Ascension Parish Iberville’s friend.” J. Mitchell Ourso, Iberville Parish president
PLAQUEMINE — Iberville Parish won a court order Wednesday keeping Ascension Parish floodwaters in Ascension Parish.
District Judge J. Robin Free granted the Iberville Parish Council’s request to block East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1 from building a drainage channel diverting its Frog Bayou floodwater into Iberville’s Alligator Bayou.
Attorneys representing both sides in the 18th Judicial District Court case told Free the parties had reached an amicable agreement.
“They agreed to the preliminary injunction,” said Phil Breaux, attorney for Iberville Parish. “They apparently understood our concerns and agreed to the judgement that prevents them from sending any water to Iberville.”
Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said, “We’re going to do what we have to do to ensure the safety of our citizens without putting residents of Iberville Parish in harm’s way.”
As for the proposed drainage channel, Martinez said, “We’re looking at options at this point and we’re keeping the door open for future projects.”
Martinez added the parish now has 30 days to further discuss the proposal with Iberville officials.
Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso had only good things to say Wednesday afternoon about the communications between Iberville and Ascension Parish officials during the legal negotiations after the injunction’s filing.
“I’m sorry that it had to come to this, because I consider Ascension Parish Iberville’s friend,” Ourso said. “I hope now that all the wounds can heal and we can come up with something that’s good for both parishes.”
Both sides are set to appear in court on Aug. 8 for a status conference.
Breaux said there’s a good chance that the session would be canceled if both sides reach agreement.
In June, East Ascension drainage officials declared a state of emergency and temporarily shut down a lock that controlled drainage in Frog Bayou because of a failure within the lock’s structure.
East Ascension decided to try and prevent Frog Bayou flooding problems while the lock was being repaired by digging a 600-foot drainage channel into Iberville’s Alligator Bayou.
But the Iberville Parish Council decided to seek a temporary injunction against the proposed channel on the grounds that East Ascension lacked scientific evidence that Iberville and its Alligator Bayou floodgate lock would be unharmed.
The 18th District Court has jurisdiction in Iberville, West Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee parishes.