A few weeks ago, I stepped into the NRCS Field office in Jennings, LA, on recommendation from Tim & Bill Wild, friends and local farmers. Bill is a Police Juryman for Jefferson Davis Parish and Tim is the current president of the Jefferson Davis Soil and Water Conservation District. They both recommended I speak with Nikki McGee, a technician in NRCS office. NIkki was in possession of historical studies of the Mermentau Watershed, according to the Wilds, and it was recommended I should view them. When i arrived, Nikki dropped a pile of documents on her desk, and when she saw the look on my face, muttered that there were more underneath if interested. “This should do for now,” I replied.
As I began to flip through the assemblage of reports, newspaper clippings, press releases, etc, I realized that what we are attempting to do has been done before – organizing a watershed coalition. The Mermentau-Vermilion River Basin Association was formed in July of 1985 (Ed Wild, father of Tim and Bill was an original member; as was Mr Chuck Abell, who attended the 2/19/2019 meeting in Jennings. Another attendee of our 2/19 meeting, Mr Greg Linscombe is quoted as well.) Among other things, this association was formed to address issues including “flooding, lack of water during certain times of the year, salt water intrusion and salinity, and poor water quality.” This is similar to what we discussed on February 19, 2019 – the problems have hardly changed. Do they ever? What has changed? Perhaps the LWI will give us the funding to pursue effective solutions. What are the lessons to be learned from the previous efforts started in 1985? A theme I noticed – competing interests from biologists and local industry. One topic discussed was the opening of Catfish Locks to allow saltwater species such as shrimp and crabs access the natural estuaries of Grand and White Lake. This effort was opposed by the association. Is this practice in effect today? How can our coalition serve both environmental and commercial interests? Is that possible?
What is next? There is an LWI Council on Watershed Management meeting next Thursday in Baton Rouge. I will be in attendance and plan to update here. I still firmly believe that competition for any LWI funding opportunities will be fierce, and it is not too early to discuss ways to prep competitive projects. Mr Greg Linscombe knows better than anyone the effect Bayou Queue de Tortue has on the Lower Mermentau flood levels. I eagerly anticipate the upcoming discussion with Acadiana Planning Commission regarding the placement of their streamgauges.
Please all, review the documents below. This is only a small portion of what is available. Ive included only a few cover pages of available reports. More later