BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The much-debated subject of East Baton Rouge (EBR) Parish’s stormwater management remains ongoing with the issuing of a Wednesday, October 26 statement from EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.
A number of locals and officials were dismayed earlier this month when Mayor Broome presented a stormwater utility fee as a funding source for drainage management and operation in EBR.
She explained that implementation of the fee was necessary to avoid federal interference, and added that federal authorities wanted local officials to sign a related Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
Shortly after her announcement, Congressman Garret Graves countered certain aspects this claim. He took to social media to say he’d personally spoke with the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA) on the phone, and an EPA representative said there is no NDA between the city and the federal government regarding the stormwater fee in Baton Rouge.
The back-and-forth regarding the need for a stormwater fee and the existence of an NDA seemed to reach a conclusion Tuesday, October 18, when Mayor Broome issued a statement, admitting that she “was misinformed regarding the federal involvement related to the NDA.”
This was followed by her request that the matter, “be removed from the council agenda until we obtain the full facts and that the metropolitan council join me in seeking answers from the parish attorney’s office and staff of the Office of the Mayor-President.”
Now, just over a week since that statement was issued, Mayor Broome is once again broaching the subject.
Her Wednesday, October 26 statement confirms that “the Environmental Protection Agency and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality told Mayor Broome on August 30, 2022 that there is a final deadline in January 2023 to submit a complete stormwater management plan.”
It adds that during the August 30 meeting mentioned above, “federal regulators informed Mayor Broome that all forms of enforcement action are on the table to ensure compliance.”
The mayor’s update on the matter includes several documents that appear to verify that the August 30 meeting occurred. These documents include meeting reports, attendance reports, and other, related agendas.
Mayor Broome’s full statement is below, followed by several reports related to the August 30 meeting.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome is committed to transparency concerning the ongoing stormwater management issue in the City of Baton Rouge and unincorporated areas of East Baton Rouge Parish. As was explained to media last week, and to councilmembers in early September, the Environmental Protection Agency and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality told Mayor Broome on August 30, 2022 that there is a final deadline in January 2023 to submit a complete stormwater management plan. This plan needs to address identified deficiencies in stormwater management, including a lack of resources and funding. Attached is an email and its attachments from August 30 that verifies this enforcement meeting took place and deadlines were established. At the meeting, federal regulators informed Mayor Broome that all forms of enforcement action are on the table to ensure compliance.EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome