Parish President John Richmond announced on July 8 that with the help of $3.4 million in funding through the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, the Parish of Natchitoches will tackle a critical project to mitigate flood risks.
Believe it or not water doesn’t flow naturally into Cane River. The drainage situation as it stands is that there’s nowhere for the water to go when heavy rains hit already heavily saturated ground. The water literally sits in a bowl in the East Natchitoches area between Cane River and the Red River. This new project will lower the overall drainage level by up to 2 feet.
The goal is to connect the existing drainage ditch that runs slightly parallel to St. Maurice Lane to the Cane River near the North Dam where the Parish maintenance takes over from the City. This will allow more control over the flow of the water in the East Natchitoches area, which will in turn help all the way out to Laird Fletcher Road and out to Bayou Poisson near Hampton Road. The project is tentatively estimated to take two years to complete.
Once the project is officially approved (around July 9 when it goes before the state) the Parish will start engineering and buying right-of-ways that will allow for the construction of a drainage canal to connect the point of natural outfall on Cane River near the north dam to the existing ditch via an access point on St. Maurice Lane. The pathway of the new canal is subject to change depending on what route engineering says is best versus what right-of-ways the parish is able to obtain.
Directing the flow of water from these areas will turn Cane River into a large retention pond with a metered outflow into Old River, which flows into Red River. This allows for more control over the flow of water so flooding can be mitigated for the farmlands and residences that are usually at risk.
Realizing that flooding from severe storms was becoming a major issue throughout the state, Gov. John Bel Edwards launched the LWI in 2018 with a focus on establishing a regionalized approach to flood risk mitigation throughout the state.
Funding is coming through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for flood risk reduction projects throughout Louisiana.
This is a “big picture” program that divides the state into 10 major districts. The goal is to fight flooding on a large scale with immediate and long-term solutions. It’s not a matter of digging out ditches in subdivisions to improve the drainage locally, but fixing the problems that make these smaller areas flood in the first place.
The end goal is how to get water from the top of the state all the way to the Gulf of Mexico without negatively impacting any area.
Natchitoches Parish falls under LWI District #1 which starts at the Arkansas/East Texas border, funneling down to a tip as it enters Rapides Parish, following the flow of the Red River.