Ascension Parish President hosts Drainage Summit, Iberville President Ourso attends

Parish Presidents Attending the Amite River Basin Drainage Summit were, left to right: Timmy Roussel, St. James; Sharon Weston Broome, East Baton Rouge; Kenny Matassa, Ascension; Layton Ricks, Livingston; and Mitch Ourso, Iberville.

Five area Parish Presidents agreed to a unified, regional approach as the best way to gain funding and move forward with construction now. 

 The summit, which was called by Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa, was well attended by representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Amite River Basin Commission, the Pontchartrain Levee District, and the offices of Congressman Garret Graves and Senator Bill Cassidy. Additionally, State Senator Eddie Lambert and State Representatives Johnny Berthelot, Tony Bacala and Clay Schexnayder were also in attendance.

 Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa opened the discussion with a call for action.

“Our people have suffered from floods and surges as decades fly past and projects stall for lack of funding. This must change," Matassa said.

Livingston President Layton Ricks expressed frustration with the system designed to mitigate flooding.

 “All of the processes in place are flawed,” he said. “Sitting at the table with leaders from neighboring parishes will really make a difference. I’m hoping speaking as a group with one voice works.”

 East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said, “I understand the frustration and share the concerns of this group. My home was flooded, and I’m not back in it yet.”

 She went on to thank Kenny Matassa “for convening this group. This is a great start and the best way to accomplish our common objectives.”

After fruitful discussion, the group consensus was that three projects should be prioritized for maximum effect: the Comite River Diversion Canal, the West Shore Levee Protection system and the clearing and dredging of Bayou Manchac.

President Matassa added, “Regionally we are united. These three projects must be funded now. I will be traveling to Washington with several Parish Presidents to deliver this message to Congress, federal agencies, and President Trump in February.”