Harahan drainage ditch lies unmaintained during confusion over ownership

Harahan drainage ditch lies unmaintained during confusion over ownership

HARAHAN, La. (WVUE) - A case of mistaken ownership leaves an important Jefferson Parish drainage ditch in limbo, leaving Harahan residents in the area worried about flooding if the ditch isn’t maintained.

But, according to parish leaders, a solution is in the works now that they know who owns it.

Barbara Harney lives on Glenwood Drive and the former Colonial Country Club golf course, where an important pipeline is falling into disrepair.

“The ditch is full of mosquitoes, stagnant water which is very unhealthy,” Harney said.

Mitchell Theriot, the drainage director for Jefferson Parish, confirmed it is an important part of the system that allows water to drain from nearby backyards and even water that comes off the levee.

“It is something that needs to remain viable,” Theriot said.

For decades, Jefferson Parish maintained the ditch.

“Just kind of got passed down from administrator to administrator. I don’t even know the origin of when it started,” Theriot said.

But Jefferson parish president Mike Yenni and Theriot said that ended several months ago, when parish engineers looked into filling it.

“It’s a cheaper at fix for us to go and close it in with the piping and let the water flow faster and never have to go back and maintain it ever again,” Yenni said.

But that’s when they learned it was private property.

“Looking through the drawings so we could go and lay out what we thought the servitude in that area, is when we realize there wasn’t an actual dedicated servitude for that ditch,” Theriot said.

Now, parish leaders will request permission from developers to cover this ditch. And if all goes well, no one will have to routinely maintain it more than once a year.

“We can’t touch it because it’s not ours,” Yenni said. “As long as the developer gives us access to this right away, we’re good.”

However, Harney said she is still concerned.

“If this ditch is not maintained, the water backs up and cannot get out even along Jeff highway. It will back up into homes, it will flood yards. The street is all flooded. Almost impassible,” Harney said. “Why are they doing this after 40 years? They’ve been maintaining it. And all of a sudden they can’t maintain it anymore.”

She said she just wants to see the ditch fixed.

“I think the property owners alone along this right away would be very happy,” Harney said.

Disctrict Council member Paul Johnston has also been part of the conversation. The cost of covering the ditch is between $5,000 and $6,000 and parish leaders said that money is ready and waiting. They expect the developer to be agreeable to any assistance.

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