THE POST-SIGNAL / Steve Bandy
The Crowley Lions Club welcomed representatives of the Acadiana Planning Commission recently. On hand were, from left, Keith Frederick, club president; Chad LaComb, APC economic development planner; Monique Boulet, APC chief administrative officer; and club member Louis Saab.
Lions hear watershed initiative plans
Monique Boulet, chief administrative officer of the Acadiana Planning Commission, outlined projects that have benefitted Acadia Parish and told Crowley Lions of issues being addressed by the APC.
Speaking at a recent club meeting, Boulet, accompanied by Chad LaComb, economic development planner, said the main thrust of work currently is watershed project that impacts not only Acadia, but all of southwest Louisiana.
After the 2016 floods, Acadiana leaders wanted to focus on regional watershed and they launched an initiative to find solutions, according to Boulet.
“APC and Acadiana are working to build local capacities to allow for long-term science-based decision making for issues relative to drainage and flooding,” she said.
A regional watershed initiative was launched, “first working as the pilot watershed in the development of FEMA’s watershed research, then, with the support of Governor (John Bel) Edwards’ $25 million mitigation allotment with regional watershed solutions as the primary criteria for project selection.”
Boulet said the initiative will “study the entire watershed, upstream and downstream.”
She said that while individual parish projects might work well for that particular area, they sometimes — “oftentimes” — cause problems elsewhere.
“We have to work together as a region because water doesn’t know or care about political boundaries,” she said. “Louisiana has more inland waters that most states in the country, but we lag behind in management.”
Boulet, who earned an MBA from UL-Lafayette and is the daughter of the late Governor Kathleen Blanco, also said that APC has received a USDA grant to study broadband coverage throughout its seven-parish region.
“Federal agencies have funding to bring broadband to outlying areas, but no one actually knows where the gaps in coverage are,” she said. “Louisiana is working to prepare fot he implementation of 5G technology and the improvements in the digital delivery of data that will soon arrive.”
LaComb has been very active in the region’s “Brownfield” properties.
A “Brownfield” is a property “which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant,” he explained.
Under the EPA Brownfield program, various grants and assistance are made available to communities to clean up these properties and get them back into commerce.
“The work of the APC is critical in having the technical expertise to work with the feds and assist landowners in getting their property cleaned up, who otherwise would be left with unmarketable title to their properties, leading to further blight and decline,” LaComb said.