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The Concordia Parish Police Jury will determine in the days ahead what project or projects it may consider as part of the Louisiana Watershed Initiative (LWI), designed to provide a statewide watershed floodplain management program.

Karen Cupit and Bradley Cammack presented a program on the initiative at the Jury’s regular meeting Monday. They work for the Ouachita Parish Police Jury which is the fiscal agent for the watershed district in northeastern Louisiana that includes Concordia Parish.

Concordia is part of LWI Region 3, which also includes the parishes of Catahoula, Tensas, Franklin, Claiborne, Union, Morehouse, West Carroll, East Carroll, Lincoln, Ouachita, Richland, Madison and Caldwell.

Cupit said that “water goes everywhere,” and one decision involving watershed management affects another. She said one of the initiative’s primary purposes is to reduce flooding by optimizing scientific tools in management.

She said steering committees that include representatives from police juries will determine how to spend the $1.2 billion appropriated to development watershed management programs statewide.

Gov. John Bel Edwards established the Council on Watershed Management to oversee the statewide initiative. The council’s mission is to work with local jurisdictions and communities to implement regional, long-term solutions that follow watershed boundaries rather than local political boundaries. The council includes members of the Office of Community Development, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Department of Transportation and Development and Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

According to Kisatchie-Delta, flooding in 2016 revealed the ways in which Louisiana’s landscape is subject to flooding.

The LWI, which was launched in 2018, introduced a new watershed-based approach to reducing flood risk in Louisiana guided by the following principles, according to Kisatchie-Delta:

-- Using scientific tools and data.

-- Enabling transparent, objective decision-making.

-- Maximizing the natural function of floodplains.

-- Establishing regional, watershed-based management of flood risk.

According to the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, over “the past two decades, the state has experienced 16 declared flood- and hurricane-related disasters, costing more than $16 billion in public assistance.”

As a result, Edwards launched LWI, “governed by the Council on Watershed Management, to reform the state’s approach to flood mitigation. LWI hosted dozens of meetings and events to gather input from experts on addressing water management challenges, including representatives from all 64 parishes, state agencies, neighboring states and international authorities on water management.”

LWI reports on its website that following “the launch of LWI, the federal government announced Louisiana will receive a $1.2 billion flood mitigation grant—providing an unprecedented opportunity to enhance and expedite LWI efforts. Guided by a federally approved Action Plan, the funds will support statewide planning, watershed modeling, data collection and projects that reduce flood risk.

“LWI is pursuing a holistic approach to watershed management, one that goes beyond conventional mitigation measures and incorporates nature-based solutions. LWI is also developing computer models to better understand flood risk and help select projects best suited for investment in each watershed region. By investing in efforts that build statewide flood defense, Louisiana will better safeguard our communities and culture for generations to come, as well as provide an example for other states facing similar flood risk challenges.”

LWI notes that Louisiana “has a mostly flat terrain with an abundance of waterbodies, including 900 named bayous, 110 named rivers and 242 named lakes. The state is also prone to heavy rainfall. FEMA has designated 26,826 square miles of Louisiana as Special Flood Hazard Areas, which translates to 51 percent of the state. What’s more, flood risk appears to be changing, as even areas outside of floodplains are now being inundated.”

Jury Secretary-Treasurer Sandi Burley said the goal of the watershed program is to “fund projects that help multi-jurisdictions.”

Phase 1 projects have been developed.

Phase II projects are capped at $400,000.

She said the Jury is looking to fund one project at the outset.

Flood insurance discussions will be included in the process, Burley said, noting that the Jury is watching to see what projects are being funded and what mandates are being proposed concerning flood insurance.

In other business during the regular meeting, the Jury:

Adopted a speed limit of 15 miles per hour on East Road.

Appointed the Concordia Sentinel as its official journal.

Approved occupational/liquor licenses for Illusions LLC, Monterey Market LLC, Swamp Dog LLC (dba Frozen Spokane and The Lilly Pad), Dodge Oil Company (dba Dodge Store), Marsala Beverage LLP, PJ’s Corner Stop and The Landing.

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