BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — Officials are making good on their promise to improve drainage in East Baton Rouge as they break ground on Lower Jones Creek Channel improvements. Alongside the Comite River diversion canal, this is one of the largest flood risk projects in the region.

The project will reduce flooding along five sub-basins throughout East Baton Rouge Parish, including Jones Creek, Ward Creek, Bayou Fountain, Blackwater Bayou and Beaver Bayou. The five main tributaries in East Baton Rouge drain three-quarters of the parish alone. 

The current plan consists of improvements to 50 miles of channels, including clearing and
snagging, channel enlargement, and placement of riprap to reduce the risk of flood damages during heavy rainfalls.

“When we’re done, water will drain faster and flood potential will be reduced,” said East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

“Canals like this we often just drive over them and don’t think about them, we don’t think about what it does,” said Congressman Garret Graves. “When you have events like the rain bomb that we had in 2021, the thousand-year flood in 2016, the 1983 flood we become acutely aware of how critical their performance is.”

With the increasing rates of flood insurance in the state, Graves said this is one of the most important projects for the city. 

“We cannot stop. We’ve got to keep moving forward. We have to keep making investments and ensure that when we have rainy days we don’t cause people to tense up and be concerned about flooding again,” said Graves.

So far, 2,400 cubic yards of debris have been removed from Jones Creek and with the use of federal dollars, streams and canals connected to the five tributaries will be cleaned as well. After Jones Creek, officials said the next step is Bayou Fountain and Ward Creek.

In the last year, the city has cleaned 16 million pounds of debris out of nearly 60 miles of underground drainage pipes. In addition, 20,000 cubic yards of debris have been removed from Bayou Manchac, which drains much of the southern half of the parish.

Overall work will last a few years. Officials said they are committed to doing more drainage work in East Baton Rouge.