Talks of dredging the Vermilion River throughout Lafayette Parish are getting a little bit closer to reality.
At Tuesday’s Acadiana Planning Commission meeting, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it has requested that the Vermilion dredging project be included in $17.4 billion in emergency funding.
Dredging the river has been controversial in the past. The issue pitting some in Lafayette, where the river is shallowest, against those in Vermilion Parish who fear upriver dredging would increase their risk of flooding.
Congress has already approved the project, but the funding has not been secured yet.
However, funding has been approved for several other flood protection measures throughout Acadiana.
Out of 20 proposed regional watershed protection plans, with a cost of almost $95 million, the Acadiana Planning Commission(APC) has managed to whittle that list down to fit its budget.
"From that, nine projects were funded with $25 million," said Community and Economic Development Director Rachel Godeaux.
The $25 million in funding came from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, awarded to APC by the governor to pay for multi-parish flood projects.
"One of the very first projects that we thought was critical was the Regional Gauge Project. That would be deploying sensors throughout the entire 7-8 parishes, about 230 gauges within those parishes. We also have the Coulee La Salle Detention Pond," said Godeaux.
About one-fifth of the approved funding has been dedicated to Coulee Ile Des Cannes near Scott in the form of flood protection plans for the future, as well as detention ponds.
"We also have the Parc Perdu Project, the Bailey Grove Regional Detention Project, Evangeline Parish Detention Project, the elevation of La. 14 Bypass in the city of Abbeville and the Cypress Bayou/Coulee La Salle Drainage Improvements project," said Godeaux.
With 11 projects that still need funding, the commission said it will continue to work together to prioritize and compromise.
"Some of the parishes stepped up and said, ‘Look, it’s okay if we don’t get a project in our area as long as we know that the projects that are being put forth are going to impact and help drainage,’" said Godeaux.
APC said applications for the nine projects are being submitted to GOHSEP now. From there they’ll be reviewed by FEMA, granted final approval and then construction can begin.