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|Blade says illegal dumping causes drainage problems|
Illegal dumping has become such a problem in Ouachita Parish that some local officials fear it will result in more flooding.
Ouachita Parish juror Dorth Blade said illegal dumping has become a serious issue in his district, where some people frequently throw out mattresses or tires in ditches and streams.
"With the water like it is now, we are about to have a flood in District D," Blade said.
Public Works director John Tom Murray said the problem Blade referred to was not limited to District D.
"I would say this is typical parish-wide, and not just in District D," Murray said. "We worked most of the day the other day, finding debris and trash in the ditches. When I say trash, it's anything from limbs to trees and tires in ditches."
"These ditches have become dump sites," Murray added.
Blade is frustrated with the illegal dumping activity and admits that it is difficult to stop it.
"I really don't have a solution for it," Blade said. "They cut out the funding for off-road work, and this is basically an off-road situation."
There has not been any dedicated funding for off-road drainage projects in the parish for at least 30 years. The parish on two occasions asked voters to renew a drainage tax, or property millage, but the proposal failed each time.
In Ouachita Parish, there's no source of funds for work on off-road ditches other than the police jury's general fund.
The Ouachita Parish Public Works Department is funded by a one-cent sales tax, which is dedicated to road construction and maintenance. However, the state Attorney General says the public works department can only use revenues generated by the one-cent sales tax for roadside ditch maintenance. It cannot be used for any off-road drainage issues.
"We hope that people who live in these areas will become aware that they are creating this flooding situation," Blade said. "Until they quit throwing this stuff out there, we'll have a problem."
Blade is hopeful the litter camera project will help stop some of the illegal dumping, but he knows it won't stop all of it.
Blade was referring to plans to have cameras installed in several areas throughout the parish that are considered hot spots for illegal dumping.
Local constables will monitor the cameras and anyone filmed dumping items illegally would be investigated by the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office.
"That will help, but that will be mostly on the side of the roads," Blade said. "These people in these subdivisions have ditches behind them, and they're just throwing it out there. And they just change spots, from one area to another."
"This is our neighborhood and we want it clean, but we need people's help," he said.