Flood mitigation projects in Lafayette, Alexandria and Church Point won a combined $19.6 million from Louisiana’s Watershed Initiative, which announced $61.6 million for projects statewide Thursday.
The funds announced Thursday are some of the first dollars to be earmarked from LWI’s $1.2 billion cache of federal funds that were given to the state in response to the widespread damage caused by the 2016 floods.
Four projects in Acadiana’s watershed area, which is bounded by the Red River to the north, the Mermentau River to the west, the Mississippi River to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, were approved for part of the $61.6 million in round one funding announced by the LWI Thursday.
“Round one is a competitive program, and the criteria prioritizes immediate impacts, natural functions of the floodplain and quantifiable mitigation,” LWI Policy Specialist Evelyn Campo said Thursday. “So these projects need to result in fewer homes or structures flooding or being impacted by flooding.”
Governments from across the Acadiana watershed region submitted seven projects for the first round of funding from LWI, four of which were approved for funds Thursday.
The round one funding from LWI is targeted at low-risk, immediate-reward projects that do not require further study to determine their upstream and downstream impacts, meaning just seven of the more than 90 projects proposed in the Acadiana watershed met the criteria to be considered for funding Thursday.
Though only four of those seven were approved by the LWI, the Acadiana’s watershed steering committee, which is composed of a representative from each of the 15 parishes in the region, will consider the three other projects to compete for an additional $5 million in LWI funding this summer.
Most of the region’s $19.6 million in new flood control funding will go to a pair of projects sought by the city of Alexandria that total $11.9 million.
The construction of a backwater overflow relief structure to drain the Chatlin Lake Canal into the Red River near Alexandria accounts for $10 million of that, while $1.9 million will go toward hardening the Horseshoe Canal in south Alexandria.
The Chatlin Lake Canal backwater overflow relief structure was the most expensive project approved across the state Thursday, and the watershed that reaches from Alexandria to the Gulf Coast saw the second largest amount of funding Thursday of all of the state’s eight watershed regions.
Only the Baton Rouge-Northshore watershed, which had $26.9 million in projects approved largely to acquire land in floodplains to prevent future development, was awarded more funding.
Lafayette Consolidated Government was awarded $4.73 million Thursday for the construction of a detention pond along the Coulee Mine near Pelican Park on Prejean Road in Carencro.
The Town of Church Point was also awarded $2.94 million by the LWI to construct a pair of detention ponds, one along Bayou Plaquemine and another near West Corporation Street and La. Highway 95.