PLAQUEMINE — The Iberville Parish Council on Monday unanimously decided to seek a temporary injunction against the East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1 board of commissioners to block the district’s planned construction of a drainage channel.
During a special meeting last month, 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.
In a special meeting Monday night, Edward “Lucky” Songy, Iberville’s chief administrative officer, told the council that East Ascension officials planned to build the 600-foot drainage channel to prevent flooding while the lock is being repaired. The channel will funnel the additional water flow from Frog Bayou into Alligator Bayou.
Songy said Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso asked East Ascension officials to produce engineering or scientific data proving that the channel would not adversely affect drainage in Iberville Parish.
“Weeks went by and no data was ever produced,” Songy said.
Because East Ascension failed to provide the data, Songy said, Iberville will seek the injunction to prohibit any additional flood water from being sent into Iberville Parish.
The Frog Bayou lock runs underneath Alligator Bayou Road and drains into Bayou Manchac.
The two drainage basins — Bluff Swamp and Spanish Lake — are separated by a levee and controlled by separate locks. The proposed channel would create a path through that division below the locks.
According to Iberville’s Environmental Manager John James Clark, Alligator Bayou already receives flood and rain waters from the East Iberville area, including the city of St. Gabriel.
Alligator Bayou, which drains into Bayou Manchac as well, serves as the draining pond for the Spanish Lake Basin, Clark said.
Clark said Bayou Manchac is already prone to flooding because it drains Baton Rouge’s metropolitan area as well as areas as far north as Liberty, Miss.
“That’s a big, giant area,” he said. “A lot of flood water can back up Bayou Manchac and start flowing into this area. Water flows by gravity, which is high to low, and this area is very low.”
Clark said the Alligator Bayou floodgate is already undersized and East Ascension’s proposed project has the potential to cause additional stress on the weak system.
Robert Badeaux, who is with the engineering firm Forte & Tablada, said until a model is executed proving what will happen should East Ascension’s plan be implemented, no one has any way of knowing what possible dangers the channel poses for the East Iberville area.
“The channel, at this point, is not in the best interest of Iberville Parish,” Badeaux said.
Ourso said he wasn’t necessarily against the East Ascension project or Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez’s attempts to do what is best for his residents.
“That’s what he was elected for,” Ourso said. “Until I get that information, I can’t tell you if they are addressing any of this at this time.”