BATON ROUGE – The Livingston Parish has filed a lawsuit to end construction of the Laurel Ridge Levee Extension along the Amite River in Ascension Parish.
The lawsuit was filed on May 24 in the 19th Judicial District Court. Ascension Parish and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Office of Coastal Management are named as defendants.
Construction has not begun on the proposed extension, but government officials said the extension of the levee can raise the water level in Port Vincent, resulting in an increase of water between 1.5 and 6 inches.
“Our engineers have reviewed Ascension’s study and have agreed that It would be anywhere from one and a half to as much as six inches adversely impacting our parish,” Layton Ricks, Livingston Parish President, told the Louisiana Record.
Ricks said he would like the proposed extension to stop altogether or “have modifications done on the levee project sufficient to protect Livingston Parish from any potential adverse impact.”
According to theadvocate.com, the lawsuit said Ascension officials had promised to work in “good faith” to share floodplain research on the Amite River Basin and ensure “that no one parish’s actions adversely affected other surrounding parishes and their citizens.”
The lawsuit said the permit process went forward without consultation with Livingston government and the drainage district, despite the study showing that flooding in Livingston could be damaging if the levee is built, according to theadvocate.com.
In an interview with The Livingston Parish News, Ricks said the goal is not to harm the people of Ascension Parish, but they don’t want any excess water going toward Livingston Parish.
According to the Livingston Parish News, the lawsuit came after the Ascension Parish government failed to honor Ricks' request to prove the project wouldn’t harm the Livingston Parish side of the Amite River, which includes the villages of Port Vincent and French Settlement.
The lawsuit says the citizens of Livingston Parish will face “irreparable injury” if the court doesn’t grant the injunction.
According to the lawsuit, cited by The Livingston Parish News, “parish engineers are concerned with approximately 5,000 acres of land that currently, prior to levee construction, flood and store some of the flood waters from the Amite River watershed, and what will happen once the levee is constructed.”
Theadvocate.com said the lawsuit was filed five days before Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the creation of a new statewide floodplain management program aimed at coordinating flood protection plans within individual watersheds, such as the Amite River Basin.
According to The Advocate, Ascension spokesman Kyle Gautreau said Ascension Parish remains in full support of the Pontchartrain Levee District’s extension of the Laurel Ridge Levee and the permit was granted properly after thorough review by the Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.