City of Gonzales approves $573,000 Purpera Canal drainage improvement

Looking south from E Tiffani Street

Boone Services, LLC, the contractor dredging New River pursuant to an agreement with East Ascension Drainage District, was awarded a $573,425 contract with the City of Gonzales on Monday.  The lowest of six bids submitted, the job entails “pipe removal and replacement” in the drainage canal that bisects Purpera Ave alongside Tiffani St to the west, Evergreen St to the east. The canal extends from mid-Gonzales to Bayou Francois east of the city but, apparently, does not qualify as “major drainage” sufficient to peak the interest of EA Drainage.


The City of Gonzales is alone among three Ascension municipalities when it comes to a drainage improvement expenditures like this one.  1300 linear feet of drain pipe, along with 26 catch basins will be installed after removal of a similar number of infrastructure pieces.

And there is more.

EA Drainage has called upon the City of Gonzales when it comes time to clean up one of the messes it made.  Also on Monday’s City Council agenda was a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) between the city, Conway Development, LLC and Conway Property Owners Association, Inc.  It seems that Conway Subdivision’s drainage plan, approved by East Ascension Drainage before the first slab was laid, does not work.

The agreement reads, in pertinent part:

  • The Developer has an approved drainage impact study approved by the Parish of Ascension’s Chief Drainage Engineer, Darrel Primeaux, dated December 16, 2015 for the Conway Plantation Subdivision (TND);
  • Subsequent rain events have shown that, although Developer’s approved drainage impact study satisfied all legal and technical requirements, measures in addition to those provided in the above-referenced approved plan should by implemented to address stormwater runoff and flooding as designed and approved;
  • It has been determined that a pumping station system is the only realistic remaining alternative to adequately address stormwater runoff and flooding concerns;
  • The Parish of Ascension Gravity Drainage District has reviewed the proposed design and operation of a proposed stormwater pumping and drainage system and consequently approved a waiver of (Stormwater Design Requirements), which prohibits the use of mechanical systems for discharging flow from detention ponds, subjects and conditions;
  • One of the conditions required by the East Ascension Gravity Drainage District and the Parish of Ascension is that the CITY would operate the pumping station in the unlikely event the HOA should fail to do so for any reason;
  • The Association agrees that it will be the primary operator of the pumping station system and all its particulars.

Conway’s HoA will provide information to the City of Gonzales annually, related to operation and maintenance of the system including fees collected for the purpose of operating the system.

According to the developer, represented by Jeff Vallee on Monday, EA Drainage requires “that a municipal body be involved…the city is the natural, next place to go.”  Since Vallee’s predecessor made the mess in combination with EA Drainage, it is probably wise to have the City of Gonzales’ intervention.  Vallee, apparently thinking it might provide comfort, declared that his group would “be there another eight to ten years.”

“I think we’re being held up,” Councilman John Berthelot responded.  “We send about $3.5 million a year to East Ascension Drainage.”

Berthelot conceded that the city “depends on (the District, specifically the Marvin Braud) pumps, but we pay our fair share.”  During last week’s rain event the Marvin Braud system was down to three operational pumps and water began collecting inside the City of Gonzales.

Fortunately for city residents, Gonzales has the financial wherewithal to pay the costs.  The other municipalities (the Town of Sorrento and City of Donaldsonville) do not.  (Donaldonsonville is included in the West Ascension Drainage District.

EA Drainage, comprised of ten Parish Council members sitting Ex Officio, seems to relish the opportunity to withhold services from two municipalities.  Sorrento’s former mayor went so far as to file a lawsuit

Mayor Mike Lambert and Town of Sorrento sue East Ascension Drainage Board

Sorrento contributes pennies to Gonzales’ dollars for EA Drainage operations.  With three EA Drainage members representing parts of the city, Gonzales residents should expect better from John Cagnolatti, Travis Turner and Joel Robert.  Cagnolatti is the worst offender, joining colleagues to sponsor EA Drainage’s May 9, 2022 agenda item:

Discussion of requiring all municipalities on the East bank to have development drainage standards that are at least equal to Parish standards under possibility of cessation of drainage work in municipalities that do not have such standard (Vice-Chairman Aaron Lawler, Commissioners Terri Casso, John Cagnolotti, Corey Orgeron).

If that does not secure his reelection defeat on October 14, the citizens of Gonzales are not paying attention.