A group representing governmental entities in northeastern Louisiana are preparing a plan for developing a coalition that could sign off on what flood prevention projects receive a portion of $5 million in funding.

Thanks to hazard mitigation funds, each of the state’s regions will receive $5 million to be distributed by each region’s steering committee under the Louisiana Watershed Initiative.

The state also will award grants from a separate $60-million source of funding in response to the same flood prevention projects vying for the first pool of money.

The Louisiana Watershed Initiative seeks to award funding to projects that improve flood prevention across parish and state lines, instead of addressing hyper-local needs, as part of an effort to improve drainage across the state.

A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common point.

“Flooding occurs across parish lines and state lines,” said Karen Cupit, with the Louisiana Watershed Initiative.

“We need to extend our understanding of river systems beyond our local river.”

Cupit, who serves on the Louisiana Watershed Initiative’s Region 3 Steering Committee, delivered those remarks Monday at the Ouachita Parish Police Jury’s regular meeting.

“If we’re going to get to the root of the flooding issues to mitigate the effect of future floods, we need to know how the water flows in a watershed,” Cupit said.

She also works as the assistant treasurer at the Police Jury.

The Police Jury is the coordinating agency for Watershed Initiative’s Region 3, which includes 14 parishes in northeastern Louisiana.

That means the Police Jury will serve as the fiscal agent, overseeing the distribution of grant funding to eligible flood prevention projects throughout northeastern Louisiana.

The Region 3 Steering Committee for the Louisiana Watershed Initiative plans to make presentations to governmental entities throughout northeastern Louisiana through June.

“In the next seven weeks, we’ll be presenting this 20 times to find how we want to tailor our recommendation,” said Cupit, referring to a recommendation of who should serve on the coalition determining what projects receive funding.

“It would be next year for any decisions are made, most likely,” she added, referring to the state Legislature’s 2022 regular legislative session.

Most of the projects that have been submitted through grant applications are from the cities of Monroe and West Monroe as well as the Ouachita Parish Police Jury.

For example, Monroe submitted applications for nine projects including the Youngs Bayou detention ponds, Interstate 20 south frontage road drainage improvement, the Georgia Street pump station, and others.

West Monroe is seeking funding for eight projects to make golf course creek channel improvements, detention along the southern end of Cypress Street, improvements to Black Bayou’s channels, and others.

The Police Jury is seeking funding for 16 projects that would restore the L-11 Canal, restore canal from the River Styx Pump Station to Lonewa, restore the canal from Chauvin to the River Styx Pump Station, enhance the Charmingdale outfall and drainage ditch, buy generators for pumps and lift stations, as a match for East Town & Country hazard mitigation grant funding, and more.

The cities of Bastrop, Tallulah and Winnsboro also have submitted a couple of grants in addition to the towns of Delhi, Farmerville and Rayville.

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