Status of Major Drainage Projects as of January 2015. The projects discussed in this section are intended to address problem areas where simple channel cleaning is not enough to alleviate the recurrent flooding. Those portions of the drainage system discussed in this section were found to require enlargement or other enhancements to improve drainage. These projects were selected based on their potential to reduce property damage to homes and businesses from flooding. These projects also required funding beyond the capability of Gravity Drainage District 8, so outside funding through various grants were sought and secured to implement much of this work.

To start on the right path, an independent drainage study was commissioned and funded by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. That study, referred to as the Fenstermaker Report, produced a detailed evaluation of the existing drainage system. The study also created and evaluated proposed new drainage improvement projects, then helped to rank those projects by priority.

The Belfield Ditch Improvement Project

This is our top priority project because it promises to minimize property damage in the area most affected by flooding, the Belfield, Crawford and Joe Miller Road area. This Fenstermaker Study identified this project as the most effective option of any considered. The project is expected to protect 400 acres including 179 homes, shops, and businesses from flooding in a 100 year storm event, which is on the scale of the October of 2006 flood.

The 1.5 mile long project will begin at North Perkins Ferry Road and end about twelve hundred feet east of Belfield Road. The project will not only increase the speed and volume of flow through the channel, it will also add storage capacity for storm water along the channel thanks to a design feature referred to as a bench cut. An estimated 340,000 cubic yards of dirt will be excavated leaving a 55' to 85' wide "bench" along 1.25 mile reach of the channel to provide stormwater storage during heavy rains. Funding for the Belfield Ditch Improvement Project is now secured. Grants and other funding commitments from Federal, State, Parish, and the District are being pooled together to pay for the project's estimated cost of $4,122,671. The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury has granted and/or committed no less than $1,300,000 toward the project. The funding source breakdown is as follows:

$1,595,262 from FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

$650,000 granted by the Police Jury through a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement.

$200,000 in Ward 1 Gaming allocations dedicated by the Police Jury in July of 2014.

$500,000 awarded in Oct. 2014 from the Police Jury's Road and Drainage Trust Fund.

$207,410 dedicated from Gravity Drainage District 8 of Ward One in July 2014.

$910,000 from the State of Louisiana's Capital Outlay Request Program in Nov. 2014.

$70,000 in other HMGP monies.

About $1.8 Million was granted for this project within the last half of 2014.

One major obstacle has been the wetlands issues. The Army Corps of Engineers had indicated a reluctance to issue the permit unless we could either show that our project would have only a temporary impact to the wetlands, or permanently mitigate the impact to wetlands. Guaranteeing that our project's wetland impact would only be temporary proved more difficult than requesting additional grant monies to pay for wetlands mitigation. We resubmitted our wetland permit application to reflect mitigation of acreage where the dirt will be piled, then we sought and secured the $500,000 grant from the Police Jury's Road and Drainage Trust Fund to cover the additional cost of wetland mitigation.

Phase 1, the Engineering and Design phase, has been completed. It consisted of engineering and design, permitting, and wetland delineation. As of January of 2015, we are waiting on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue the wetland permit, and trying to wrap up the seemingly never-ending submission of requested information to State and Federal agencies to document the project's merit and eligibility to move on to Phase 2.

Phase 2, the Construction phase, will consist of wetland mitigation, right-of-way acquisition, contract development, procurement, and construction.

The Armand Ditch Project
The Armand Ditch Project is designed to lessen the severity of flooding in the area of Southern Belle Estates Subdivision, Noah's Acres Subdivision, and Pine Bluff Estates Subdivision. This project will entail the construction of a new ditch which will connect the existing channel just west of West Armand Street at Joe Miller Road, to the Belfield Ditch, 1.25 miles south of Joe Miller Road. Its design would lessen the burden on Little Indian Bayou.

The Armand Ditch Project, Phase One
The first phase of this project, titled "Armand Ditch Project Phase One", has been completed. The new, 100 foot long, concrete bridge on North Perkins Ferry Road was built to prepare the receiving channel, the Belfield Ditch, to handle the additional storm-water that the new channel will convey.

Funding for Phase One of the Armand Ditch Project, in the amount of $975,585, was secured, primarily through a $725,585 grant awarded by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, The CPPJ has also dedicated $150,000 in Capital Improvement Project funds, and GDD8 put $100,000 into the project as well.

Funding for the remaining phases of the Armand Ditch Project is being sought from the State through a Capital Outlay Request. The remainder of the project is estimated to be about four million dollars. It is likely that this project will be broken-down into multiple, scaled-down phases. The scale of the next phase will be proportionate to the available funding.

It has yet to received funding from the State's Capital Outlay Request program, but we will keep submitting an application each year until its funded.

The LIB-5 Drainage Improvement Project
While we at GDD8 are working to secure funding for the next phases of the Armand Project, a project to enhance the existing channel (LIB-5) to its maximum potential was completed at the end of 2012. Funding for this minor project has been made available from the CPPJ. The existing 84 inch culvert at Joe Miller Road (just west of West Armand St.) was determined to be undersized and has been replaced by the Calcasieu Parish Public Works Dept with a 186 inch box culvert. This will improve the drainage (locally) to the Armand St. area up to a 10 year storm event. GDD8 has no perpetual Rights-of-Way on most of this channel south of Joe Miller Road. This has hampered even the most basic maintenance, not to mention implementing any improvements. We will continue the effort to secure the easements along this react to allow for basic maintenance and possible enhancements.

Minor Tributaries (L-15, L-16, and L-13)
GDD8, and the CPPJ, have completed the first phases of plans developed to improve the drainage problems behind Moss Bluff Middle School, across the parking area of the baseball fields, and into Parkview Estates Subdivision where homes have flooded as recently as September 2013. After a detailed evaluation, engineers have recommended a long and costly list of improvements to relieve the recurrent flooding. As funding is limited, we asked the engineers for a phased breakdown. A step-by-step improvement plan was developed which will address each channel from a downstream to upstream approach. GDD8 has secured initial funding for the first few phases of improvements on all 3 channels. The work accomplished thus far is as follows.

L-15 Drainage Improvement Project
Channel L-15 drains the eastern side of Parkside Subdivision , flows through culverts across the baseball field's parking lots, then in culverts behind the old Middle School building, along the west and north sides of the new Moss Bluff Middle School Building, then under Don Manuel Blvd, under Park Road, then under Sam Houston Jones Parkway, then under Reeves and Bozo Roads, then finally flowing into the Little Burns swamp which filters into the Calcasieu River and West Fork.

Initial work had begun by mowing the brush in the overbank areas of the lower reaches of the channel. The subsequent work had to be broken into three phases in an effort to keep the project financially realistic. As the project will enhance drainage for the Moss Bluff Middle School and the Community Center and Playground District #4's complex, the Calcasieu Parish School Board (CPSB) and the Playground District have partnered with GDD8 by dedicating equal portion of matching monies to secure grant funds from the CPPJ Road and Drainage Trust Fund.

Phase1 entailed the installation of 560 feet of 72" concrete pipe, closing-in the large open ditch on the north side of Moss Bluff Middle School as well as replacing the first run of undersized pipe to a point behind the school. Phase 1 was completed in 2014 with the CPPJ grant covering $148,250 and the CCPD4, CPSB, and GDD8 splitting the remainder of the total cost for Phase 1 at $407,374.73.

The same partners participated in a CPPJ grant application for Phase 2. This phase consisted of the removal of 600' of undersized 60" pipe and replacing it with 72" arched concrete pipe, including the construction of 7 very large concrete catch basins and multiple smaller catch basins. This Phase ran from the end of Phase 1, at a point behind the Moss Bluff Middle School, westerly, behind the old Middle school Building, to the boundary line with the CCPD4 baseball complex.

With the exception of minor punch list items and paperwork, Phase 2 is complete as of January 2015. This phase was funded with a $290,500 grant from the CPPJ Road and Drainage Trust Fund, along with CCPD4, CPSB, and GDD8 collectively covering the remaining $125,000 of the phase's total estimated cost of $415,500. We were pleased to have the total actual cost for Phase 2 of this project come in at $323,380.89, which is $92,119.11 under budget. Phase 3 will entail the removal of 915 feet of 36 inch diameter pipe running across the parking lot of the CCPD4 baseball complex to the eastern boundary line of Parkview Subdivision near Marcus Lane. The undersized pipe will be replaced with 915 linear feet of 4 foot by seven foot concrete box culverts. This phase has a cost estimate of $663,700.

CCPD4, the CPSB, and GDD8 had collectively committed $199,110 as match to request $464,590 from the CPPJ Road and Drainage Trust Fund. The application was submitted on July 30, 2014 for funding in 2015, but was unsuccessful in a attaining grant funds in 2015. As applications to the Trust Fund are competitively scored, and applicants can only be awarded up to $500,000 per grant cycle, this project was outscored by our other application for $500,000 to cover the unexpected mitigation expenses of the Belfield Ditch project.

Our plan is to reapply for the CPPJ grant funding in July of 2015 for funding in 2016. The wetland permit for Phase 3 will be applied for within the first few months of 2015.

L-16 Drainage Improvement Project
The western route for storm water runoff from the Parkside Subdivision and Evonne Street area is a channel designated as L-16. It begins near Mathew Drive off of Sistrunk, flows westerly across North Perkins Ferry Road just south of South Borel, continues westerly into the northeast corner of The Vineyards Subdivision, where it meanders southerly, crossing La 378, passing through South Park Manor Subdivision. before flowing into the West Fork river.

Overbank mowing had initially been performed to the downstream portion of the channel, primarily running through the Vineyards Subdivision. The Engineer's recommendation for the channel enhancement was to begin near the Vineyards Subdivision, and work our way upstream toward the problem area of Evonne Rd. and Mathew Dr. The channel was cleaned and reshaped, but progress was halted over Right-of-Way issues on the last 640 feet of channel.

GDD8 will try to resolve the Right-of-Way issues to allow for the implementation of improvements to the remaining 640 feet of channel as per the engineer's recommendations.

L-13 Drainage Improvement Project
L-13 begins at the intersection of Sistrunk and Mathew Drive flowing south along the western boundary of Indian Acres Subdivision, turning east and flowing for 700 feet until turning south and crossing under St. Andrew's Episcopal Church's driveway, crossing under Sam Houston Jones Parkway, the flowing into the Little Burns Swamp where it filters into the West Fork and Calcasieu River.

The engineer's recommendation is to re-grade the channel and reshape the channel cross section on the upper (north/south) reach of the channel. The portion of the channel through St. Andrew's Church's property will experience increased velocities, so the engineers have recommended erosion protection along the Church's driveway. Negotiations are ongoing to perform this work.

The recommended work on the upper, north/south, reach, is at a standstill over Right-of-Way issues. GDD8 will continue to work to acquire the necessary Rights-of Way in order to implement the proposed drainage improvement. Upon the acquisition of the necessary Rights-of Way, GDD8 will begin the work as soon a wetlands permit could be attained.

Moss Gully (MG-1) Drainage Improvement Project
The purpose of this project is to prevent property damage from reoccurring to the Shellie Lane area. Moss Gully begins at Park Road just north of Sistrunk and flows northeasterly, then crosses under Deidre Road, runs along Stella Drive, turns northerly after flowing under West Telephone Road, flows under Dewey Road and Ethel Drive, then under a private driveway off Morrow Road, then it flows under Executive Drive, then beside Dynamic Dimensions before going under Sam Houston Jones Parkway, then flows along the west side of Moss Bluff Elementary, finally meandering to the south until flowing into the Little Burns Swamp.

The GDD8 has mowed the small trees and brush along the section of this channel needing the most work. This is the section between Park Road and Deidre Road. As this is the site of a previous wetlands violation, the Army Corps of Engineers has halted further work until all the wetlands are properly permitted and mitigated.

GDD8 has applied for a wetland permit to perform the recommended channel enhancements between Park Road and Sam Houston Jones Parkway, including upgrading the culvert under Executive Drive and straightening a portion of the channel from a few hundred feet upstream of Executive Drive to Sam Houston Jones Parkway. Once this work is completed, the existing piping between Shellie Lane and Sistrunk Roads will be reevaluated and considered for upgrading. We are yet to know the extent of wetland mitigation that may be required by the Corps, so it is difficult to know when the project can move forward or what its cost might be.

Major Channel Maintenance Goal for 2015
The items of work discussed in this section are maintenance based but have components geared to improve the overall drainage network.

It is the goal of GDD8 to establish the maintenance bank along every channel in the District. Maintenancebanks are merely a cleared path along a channel which would allow GDD8 personnel and equipment to have unrestricted access along the length of the channel for maintenance purposes. We are focusing first on channels with a history of property damage due to flooding.

Indian Bayou, Little Indian Bayou, Marsh Bayou, and the Goldsmith Canal are at the top of the list, but work on any other channel will be considered when property owner(s) grant the Right-of Way, or a grant a temporary Right-of-Entry. These maintenance banks are of paramount importance, as they will allow GDD8 personnel and equipment to traverse these channels to perform inspections and maintenance tasks such as: mowing or spraying herbicide, the removal of debris, beaver dams, or sediment that hinder drainage.

Our goal for 2015 is to complete a maintenance path along the portions of Indian and Little Indian Bayous from Entergy's major power transmission line crossing over Indian Bayou to US Hwy 171 on Little Indian Bayou. We intend to focus on this area of these two channels first as they are the receiving cannels for the worst of the problem areas of Ward One.

The plan is then to expand upon this work by mowing the overbank area in that same reach. One of the primary recommendations of the Fenstermaker Study was to mow the brush and smaller trees along the channel banks so that flood waters could flow more freely in heavy rains when those channels have swollen outside their banks. You may be able to see some of this work performed around the Coffey Road bridge. It is the same type of work performed earlier on Moss Gully running along the west side of Moss Bluff Elementary School.