The U.S. Senate’s 95-3 vote to include the Comite River Diversion Canal project in its Water Resources Development Act gives us reason to believe what may never have seemed possible may now getting a fighting chance.
We’ve waited decades – and paid taxes for that amount of time – on a project that would raise base-flood elevations throughout the area. The slow pace of federal and state government led it to stalemate.
Many area lawmakers, perhaps most notably state Rep. Valarie Hodges, argued that delays would eventually prove much more costly.
We doubt many imagined the magnitude of the storm we endured last month.
Federal lawmakers also seemed to get the message – at least to a small degree.
We’re glad to hear that the project at least drew a nod from the U.S. Senate. Much of the credit belongs to Governor John Bel Edwards, Congressmen Garret Graves and Cedric Richmond, along with Senators Bill Cassidy and David Vitter.
We wish, however, that the inclusion of the bill would have included the funds necessary to complete the project. Inclusion amid a lack of funding fuels skeptics who would rightfully believe the move served only as a nod or form of lip service, and nothing more.
Residents of Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes have heard enough promises and they have suffered enough the last month to warrant something that would bring relief and ensure they will stay in the area for years to come.
Graves has recommended an extension of the project, one that would bring the plans up to 2016 standards, which makes perfect sense with the population boom in the region in the time since the plan was conceived, based on the benchmarks from the 1983 flood. He also recommends an Amite River project to flow water from our area to the Mississippi River, in much the same as the Comite diversion.
It’s a novel approach, although it’s obviously much further down the pike than the Comite project, which remains on the drawing board.
We hope Edwards, Graves and the other lawmakers who have fought steadfastly for us thus far on Capitol Hill will not let up on their demands that the federal government funnel the money to complete the project.
Damages from the flood have already exceeded $10 billion, while it would have only taken $200 million to complete the Comite River Diversion Canal.
Who in their right mind would find it more sensible to spend far more in damages than they would on a project that would perhaps lessen the extent of the flood?
We don’t need to pull out the calculators to expose the prevailing nonsense that has resulted from the lack of attention to the project.
Instead of giving us lip service, it’s time the federal government gives us results.