The following answers were provided by Jeff Pittman running for Council District 9 in St. Tammany Parish:

1. What do you think is the single most important drainage issue in your district and what are your proposals to solve and fund it?

The W-15 Project as proposed currently by the Parish runs the risk of increasing flooding to the areas South of the Military Road bridge.  The Parish plans on building a “super highway” for water from East Gause Boulevard to the Old River Road bridge.  Once the water gets past the bridge at Quail Ridge, the Parish’s consulting Engineers do not have any solutions to enhance the flow of water away from the Doubloon Bayou area.

Potential Solutions:

1)Large diameter Concrete Arch Pipe along the western edge of Military Road from the French Branch bridge to the swamp crossing on Military Road at the Garrett property.  This is a State Road and should be funded as a LADOT project.  This would also give the added benefit of providing an area to put a bike path above the pipe by closing the ditch along Military Road in that area.

2)Change out culverts and add additional culverts at Military Road in the location of the Garrett property.   A portion of the water flowing from Doubloon Bayou goes under Military Road at the location of the culverts on Military Road. These culverts need to be replaced due to fact they are rotting, which you can tell by the failure in the asphalt directly above the existing culverts.  Additional and larger culverts should replace the existing rotting culverts. The new culverts could use check valves that would only allow water to flow from East to West and not allow water to flow during storm surge situations from Lake Pontchartrain West to East under Military Road.   Military Road could also be raised by several feet in this area to prevent it from going under water in flood situations.  This is a maintenance issue and should be paid by the LADOTD.

3)The Cross Creek pond near the French Branch bridge  could use a pump station to keep the water several feet lower than the normal height of the W-15, when the W-15 had high flow situations you would have additional storage capacity before you reached Doubloon Bayou Subdivision.  This project could be funded 75% by a FEMA flood mitigation grant with the Parish putting up 25% of the cost.

4)A canal/ditch could be dug from the W-15 at the bridge on Military Road, East down the powerline all the way to the Pearl River.  This could divert a large amount of water around Quail Ridge and Doubloon Bayou straight to the River.  The spoil from the project could be graded out on the remaining area of the powerline as the beginning of a potential future levee.  

2. What is your definition of economic development in St. Tammany Parish? What criteria should be used in granting property tax exemptions and what property tax exemptions do you support?

District 9 is one of the only areas in St. Tammany Parish that has a Federal Opportunity Zone, this area South of Pearl River along Hwy 11 to I-12 is not being pursued, as far as I can tell, by anyone at the Parish level.  The Opportunity Zone provides very lucrative tax advantages to developers that don’t necessarily rely on the Parish having to grant property tax exemptions. I would pursue economic opportunities within this zone if I were elected.  I would not use property tax exemptions as our first incentive to attract new business ventures.  I feel this is not fair to existing businesses and has the potential to be abused by public officials.

3. Should the parish government acquire, operate and maintain private sewage and water systems?  Why or why not?

I am not in favor of the strategy of buying existing sewer treatment facilities and water systems.   The Parish should develop a regional strategy of building new modern sewer treatment and water systems that serve entire regions.  These private systems should be integrated into newer, modern facilities that are developed using Federal, State and local resources to build over the long term.  

4. Heavy rain events are becoming more frequent and severe.  How has this impacted your district?  What are your plans for mitigating the effects?

I believe more retention ponds will need to be built over time.  This will increase storm water storage, along with continuing to improve the major drainage arteries.  I think that a lot of these ponds could be built at a reduced cost by allowing contractors to use or sell the fill in exchange for digging the ponds.  The Contractor that dug the Tenant Pond, made money selling the fill out of the pond.  The Parish gave away the dirt in the contract for that project.  The 400,000 cubic yards of fill removed from that pond had a market value of over $1 million dollars.  That was enough fill to build a levee 10 foot high, 10 foot wide at the crown and 50 foot wide at the base for over 4 miles in length.  The Parish could have used these fill materials in a flood protection project to protect our homes.