Bossier coalition forming to help residents prevent flooding issues

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Vehicles transport supplies and people through neighborhoods affected by the 2016 flood event. (Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune)

A coalition is currently taking shape to help Bossier Parish residents avoid losses from flooding. 

The Louisiana Watershed Initiative is a statewide program, commissioned by Gov. John Bel Edwards, to rewrite how Louisiana manages flood risk. Dividing the state into eight regions mapped along the state’s major watersheds, the initiative was launched to lift flood management decision-making above politics. 

The Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG), in cooperation and coordination with the Coordinating and Development Corporation (CDC), and the LSUS Red River Watershed Management Institute will make up the coalition for Bossier Parish’s region.

NLCOG Executive Director Kent Rogers said in the past three to four months, he and the other coalition members have been attending meetings in Baton Rouge to discuss the needs of each region.

“The idea is hopefully these other coalitions will work well together and in the future we can continue to go up there and get bigger chunks and money from the feds to help,” said Rogers.

Bossier Parish is part of Region 1, a zone made up of 12 parishes and dozens of municipalities. Region 1 parishes consist of Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, Desoto, Grant, Natchitoches, Rapides, Red River, Sabine, Webster, and Winn.

A major catalyst for the program is a $1.2 billion grant authorized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) intended to fund transformative projects and programs that make Louisiana less prone to stormwater disaster.

The plan doesn’t include specific projects. Rather, it develops guidelines by which projects will be selected and proposes a general distribution of the HUD grant. Here’s how the money breaks down: 

  • Local and Regional Projects and Programs – $571 million 
  • State Projects and Programs – $328 million 
  • Non-Federal Cost Share Assistance – $97 million 
  • Watershed Monitoring, Mapping and Modeling – $146 million 
  • Administrative Costs – $49 million  
  • Watershed Policy, Planning and Local Capacity Assistance – $24 million 

In the coming months, the cooperating agencies will be introducing a number of efforts focused on statewide flood risk reduction. Such efforts include pursuing a standardized and coordinated approach to data required to understand and address statewide flood risk, identifying and closing gaps where data may need to be refined or is non-existent, analyzing where cost-sharing gaps may exist at a local or regional level for key flood risk reduction and resilience projects, building robust criteria for selecting and funding watershed-based projects for eligible river management activities and more. 

In addition, the Louisiana Watershed Initiative will support local jurisdictions in providing guidance on the most effective approaches to minimize flood risk reduction within Louisiana communities, guided by best practices, data, and science.