LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Are Detention ponds the answer to reduce Vermilion flooding? A community who felt the full force of 2016’s floods discussed that question Tuesday night in a Lafayette Consolidated Government town hall.
The sugar cane field on the East side of the Vermilion River across from the outflow of Coulee Ill Des Cannes is about 375 acres. Lafayette hopes to buy it to store 650 million gallons of water off the Vermilion River if a study shows it will prove useful.
“Anybody in 2016 did you flood in here? Anyone know anyone who flooded?” Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory asked a crowded civic center of citizens who live near where the retention pond is proposed.
The Homewood Drive community was less than convinced turning 200 acres of farmland into 10 feet deep ponds is the best way to stop another flood from reaching their doorstep.
“This is a real problem for many of the people in here,” stated resident Wayne Colvin. Another resident asked, “Is that pond going to jump the banks and flood my house?”
Lafayette Consolidated Government Public Works argued the process needs to take place to ensure the science is there, stating the $35M project might have a better bang for its buck than the $150M to dredge the Vermilion.
Public Works City Engineer Fred Trahan said, “It became apparent to us that wider, deeper, and bigger was just going to push the problem further and further down the channel, so we set about the concept of detaining water.”
Mayor-President Josh Guillory said there are other projects which will have a greater effect, namely Cypress Island spoil bank removal, but that shouldn’t hinder this piece of the puzzle from being studied.
“If we do all of this collectively in a big comprehensive plan, we should address drainage. We should fix the problem,” Guillory added.
Some neighbors agree if a pond is built, it could be the best thing to do with the land.
“That piece of property is going to be developed eventually, and it’s going to have possibly 100-200 houses on it,” Jerry Fontenot told his neighbors. “We’re very fortunate that we possibly have landowners who would be willing to sell this to the parish.”
Within the past year, public works isolated 90 locations for potential detention/retention ponds, about 70 have been checked hydraulically, 20 have shown the most promise, including Homewood Drive.
Last week, the Lafayette councils introduced this ordinance as a public necessity to freeze the land from the commercial market as they study it. Final adoption is scheduled at their next meeting.