City Continues Work to Improve Local Drainage

Alexandria, La. (September 23, 2020) — Heavy rains, whether from a hurricane, tropical storm or just a strong line of thunderstorms, have historically caused street flooding and drainage issues in neighborhoods throughout Alexandria.

After a heavy rainstorm dumped more than 4.5 inches of rain on the city in a few hours on the morning of July 30, 2019, causing water to get into several homes and businesses, Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall asked city engineers to prioritize projects that could improve drainage and lessen the risk of flooding.

“We can’t completely eliminate the risk of street flooding or water getting into homes and businesses if we get hit by heavy rains in a short period of time,” Hall said. “Because of the basic geography of the area, our gravity-based drainage system and the way some individual neighborhoods were designed, we will always have challenges. But there are things we can do to improve the flow of water that can help lessen that risk, and those are some of the things we are working to get accomplished.”

The city currently has a number of projects proposed for funding from the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, a state project launched in 2018 to use a regional watershed-based approach to reducing flood risks in the state by using scientific tools and data and maximizing the natural function of floodplains.

Projects that have received preliminary approval from LWI to be considered for possible funding in the first round of awards next year include Chatlin Lake Canal Backwater Overflow Relief Structure to Red River, Chatlin Lake Canal Hardening, Horseshoe Canal Hardening and Hynson Bayou Hardening.

“The Chatlin Lake Canal Backwater Overflow Relief Structure is the biggest project,” City engineer Michael Wilkinson said. “We have a gravity-fed drainage system that carries water away to the south. But if there is a blockage or problem below us, the water backs up in town. Our proposal would create another channel to drain directly to the Red River, which would relieve pressure on the current system and improve our drainage.”

Wilkinson said the three hardening projects would also improve drainage by improving the existing drainage system. “Basically those projects involve adding concrete to reinforce the existing drainage paths we have,” he said.

In addition to those projects, the city is working on a project to improve drainage in the Martin Park community. “We already have pumps in that area to help with drainage,” Wilkinson said. “We are also looking at ways we can use the natural geography in that area to route the water and create a place for runoff to go that doesn’t impact the houses in that area.”