BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The 32-million-dollar project to restore University Lakes has officially started. Governor John Bel Edwards took a visit to see the progress.

“$32 million is in place. The work that you saw on University Lake is really preparatory work. They’re studying exactly the best way to do the restoration work. You know, exactly what the sediment looks like and how it’s going to perform,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.

Phase one of a major restoration project is now underway. Gov. Edwards believes restoring the University Lakes is a must if we want a better state.

“Quite frankly, we haven’t maintained them very well. And when they get too shallow, the water quality is poor. It doesn’t support wildlife. It doesn’t support the plants the way that they should,” explained Governor Edwards.

Phase one will include dredging, improving weirs and control structures, and key mobility improvements.

“The reason we do this is for better flood control, because if these lakes hold more water, then that’s less water in our neighborhoods. And we will be in a position where we can slowly release the water as the conditions warrant and perhaps even in preparation for major rain events. We can lower the lakes in advance to increase the amount of water that can be safely retained here,” he continued.

After all phases have been completed, the lakes will be deepened to provide increased flood protection, and 10 miles of trails will be added. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome believes this is a great step in moving Baton Rouge forward.

“I’m very optimistic about the outcome of seeing these lakes restored,” she said.

The first phase is expected to be complete in 18 months. There are two phases left in the restoration project.