Highlights from the Parish President’s Report of the St. Martin Parish Council Regular Meeting of July 10, 2018

Under Item 9 of the Agenda, Resolution Number 072-RS, you were asked to approve the execution of a servitude to permit the Parish to deposit the sediment from the Catahoula Lake Dredging. There was only one property owner who responded to the RFP for this endeavor. However, the total cost of this proposal is $95,650.00, with an estimated construction costs of $17,000.00. Therefore, the total expense is $112,650.00 which comports to what we paid for the deposit of sediment back in 2015 relative to the dredging of Bayou Du Portage. Furthermore, my discourse with Nick Sonnier, one of our engineers, reflects that the site in question is environmentally sound and will pose insignificant issues with approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. It is also situated in close proximity of the Lake, thus alleviating the necessity of any sort of booster in order to hydraulically pump the sediment.

While on this subject, I feel constrained to note that this dredging project was closely evaluated by Mr. Cormier and Sellers & Associates. Also, you will recall that in December, or thereabouts, representatives of the community appeared before the Council and make a passionate, cogent, and reasonable plea for the dredging. Upon taking office, I personally vetted this matter and concurred with the previous decisions to move forward. Consequently, the apparent misconception or misunderstanding by a small number of persons of the process utilized in the development of this project is unfortunately misplaced. While one may have a different opinion on the need or prudence of the project, to postulate that it was either haphazardly planned/implemented and/or developed for any sort ill-conceived purpose is not only inaccurate but, I submit, unfair. Like the Bayou Estates Flood Wall Project, while not everyone may agree with the project, no one can deny that it (Catahoula Dredging) was planned and presented IN PUBLIC with everyone having input. Of course, all of you know this better than I.

You will recall that at the Committee Meeting for May, at my request, Brac Salyers, a Biologist Manager with the La. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, discussed the prospective 2018 drawdown of Henderson Lake. I had invited Mayor Sherbin Collette of Henderson to attend our meeting and comment as he deemed appropriate since he has been instrumental in the development of the plan previously reviewed and permitted. I met with both Mr. Sayers and Mayor Collette on April 9, 2018, on this issue. On August 15, 2014, the Army Corps of Engineers approved an operational plan for the drawdown of Henderson Lake. Sixteen arduous conditions were imposed in the permit/approval. Essentially, the accepted/approved/permitted plan calls for five (5) years of summer/fall drawdowns, commencing in 2014. The permit expires in 2020. There was no drawdown last year because of the high water level in the lake.

The purpose of the drawdown is to control severe problems with vegetation, especially Hydrilla, Water Hyacinth, and Giant Salvinia. These growths rob the water of valuable, essential nutrients which support fisheries. Additionally, the aforementioned vegetation impedes navigation.

Furthermore, a successful drawdown allows for the bed of the lake to “settle” (my term), thus aiding the reproduction of fisheries. At the meeting Mr. Salyers precisely, accurately, and thoroughly commented upon the parameters of the drawdown.

Mr. Sayers and I corresponded on June 28, 2018, and on July 2, 2018. He advised that the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is prepared to proceed with the drawdown commencing during the first week of August, 2018. The water level in the lake will permit a proper drawdown at this point. Moreover, the Department will proceed to notify the press of the prospective drawdown commencing after our meeting of July 10, 2018. I made the request that he afford the Council the opportunity to first inform the public and therefore I have placed the matter on the Agenda.