Lake Charles mayor gives progress report on drainage

Flooded streets are all too common in Lake Charles but the mayor says people will see...
Flooded streets are all too common in Lake Charles but the mayor says people will see improvements
Updated: Feb. 12, 2019 at 7:16 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -The mayor says the City of Lake Charles has increased its spending on drainage projects by about $3 million since 2017.

Mayor Nic Hunter says their efforts are successful.

In 2017, Hunter talked about drainage as a priority and what the city would do to start fixing hot spots. Now, there comes a progress report.

“We are being more aggressive and more proactive as a city than ever before in our history to improve drainage,” Hunter said.

Hunter said a lot of work is underground, but he wants people to know it’s being done. By using cameras and the latest technology, they can see what needs to be done and do it.

“In 2018, once we were up and full-bore ahead, we cleaned 48,000 feet of underground piping; nine miles or more. And removed 324 cubic yards of sediments out of those lines,” Director of Planning and Engineering Mike Huber said.

He says they are systematically inspecting drainage infrastructure above ground and underground to get ahead of flooding.

“There’s a lot of material we’ve gotten out in this year. That’s kind of routine. You clean it and everything’s fine,” Huber said.

He says the worst problems are in the downtown area.

“There’s roots coming in where the line has collapsed. And all that is dirt and roots and piping restricting the lines,” Huber said.

Nowadays, they can put a new pipe through a deteriorating old pipe.

“Just imagine a straw and you pull another straw right through the middle of it, that’s what this is,” Huber said.

Hunter says people, such as those on Guinn Street, see the benefits.

“Guinn Street had flooded four times in the last two years before the completion of this project. Since the completion of this project, to our knowledge, and through communication with the homeowner and surrounding residents, we have identified zero instances of flooding after the completion of this project,” Hunter said.

Hunter says flooding of homes and businesses takes priority, but that work such as here on enterprise will absolutely help street flooding. And if you wonder where they've been and where they're going, there's a color-coded map to find out.

Below is a map provided that tells progress on drainage work. Huber says green areas are those already completed. He says some of those are sort of “hot spot” areas about which the city has received numerous complaints. He says blue areas are those they expect to impact in 2019. He says orange areas are where they are currently working. There are also small stars that denote projects, things they find that need to be fixed.

Past, present and future drainage work areas for City of Lake Charles
Past, present and future drainage work areas for City of Lake Charles

At the start of his term, Hunter indicated the city would be proactive rather than reactive concerning drainage by dedicating funds for capital improvements, inspecting drainage systems to ensure they work efficiently, identify and schedule needed maintenance, protect residences and businesses from flooding and participate in partnerships with other governmental agencies.

In fiscal year 2017, the city had $2,955,000 in dedicated funds for drainage capital improvements. In 2018 it was $5,270,000 and in 2019 $5.7 million is earmarked. Hunter says that is a 93 percent increase over the past two fiscal years.

Since then, Hunter says they have completed various goals including to hire a consultant to evaluate all ditches in the City and to clean 74,105 feet of ditches. Also, Hunter says closed circuit TV inspections, to examine underground pipes, has accelerated and is done continuously.

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