East Natchitoches drainage project receives full funding

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Juanice Gray | Editor, Carolyn Roy contributed to this report

“The project will be funded 100%!” Parish President John Richmond got that call just after lunch Wednesday from the Louisiana Watershed Initiative (LWI) stating the East Natchitoches drainage project had received full funding. The $3.4 million project will build a new ditch to improve drainage in East Natchitoches and nearby farmland.

Initially, the LWI grant was to pay all except $688,000. Just last week, the Parish committed up to $250,000, the City, $200,000, Cane River Waterway Commission, $200,000 and the Natchitoches Levee and Drainage District up to $100,000 to cover the shortfall.

“I loved getting that $688,000 call,” Richmond said Thursday morning. He said Natchitoches Parish’s “Divine providence” came when another parish had a project that received funding from two sources, including LWI. They chose the other route thereby freeing up those funds for reallocation to the Natchitoches project.

“They withdrew their project, freed up those funds and we got them,” Richmond said.

City and Parish Engineer Nick Verret said the plan is to build the channel near the intersection of St. Maurice Lane and Blanchard Road. The project study says it will extend 6,250 feet north and discharge the storm water into Cane River at n existing outfall location near where the City limits end.

The outflow of the river at the southern end of Cane River will still be controlled by the dam. Verret said that the study estimates 25-30 percent of the impact of the ditch will be on moderate to low income housing which was a criteria for funding.