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|Corps' engineers tour Cocodrie to view drainage issues|
Local officials and representatives of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, discussed parishwide drainage today (Wednesday) beginning with an 8 a.m. meeting at the courthouse and continuing on a bus ride to sites along Cocodrie Bayou.
Corps' officials said they want to help resolve drainage and flooding issues.
"I think what we're looking at is a capacity issue in getting the water to the pumping station," said Doug Kamien, the Corps' Deputy District Engineer for Project Management. He said even if an engineering plan is designed that the hard part is getting authorization and funding from Congress.
Richard Young, chairman of the Concordia Economic and Industrial Development District (CEIDD), said communication between public bodies is a key to resolving the drainage problems. He said the bottlenecks and silt build-up in Cocodrie Bayou, the main interior drainage outlet for Concordia and parishes to the north, "need cleaning."
Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said the banks of Cocodrie "are caving in places and filling in the bayou. We have businesses, homes and crops flooded at times."
These problems have been discussed by the Jury for years, but were heightened last year when 20 inches of rain fell during Hurricane Gustav, causing widespread flooding. That was followed by heavy rainfall in April, which also caused flooding.
Ferrington said that one idea being discussed is the placement of a gravity flow structure in northern Concordia that would divert water into the Little Tensas and Tensas River. Questions over the operations of flood gates, weirs and control structures on Cocodrie also needing answering, said Ferrington.
Efforts to clean the bayou were made in the 1980s when the Jury was told that the bayou couldn't be dredged because of its scenic river status. The bayou remained the only interior drainage outlet in Concordia after the construction of the ring levee which cut off drainage through Buckner Bayou, the Tensas River and other outlets in the northern end of the parish.
Cocodrie was placed in the Natural and Scenic River Act in 1970 and put under the jurisdiction of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries.
Local officials also want a clear understanding of how the Tensas-Cocodrie Pumping Plant (TCPP) on Black River operates. The TCPP has five pumps and a gravity drainage structure designed to prevent backwater flooding in the area during high stages on Black River. The Corps has maintained that during Gustav the heavy rainfall occurring upstream from TCPP could not runoff quickly enough due to constrictions in Cocodrie.
On hand at the meeting were Corps' officials' Kamien, Tommy Hengst, Barbara Peterson, Wagland Hill and Robert Ulmer; Jury President Melvin Ferrington and juror Jimmy Jernigan; CEID's Young and executive director Heather Malone; Sen. Neil Riser; Rep Andy Anders; engineer and former legislator Bryant Hammett; Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland; and Murphy Chestnut of Congressman Rodney Alexander's office.
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