ABP TAG Meetings Start Again

The Atchafalaya Basin Program (ABP) started the State fiscal year off with a meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG). The ink is barely dry on the 2010 budget and the implementation of the annual plan projects won’t actually begin until the State Bond Commission transfers the funds to the Department, hopefully starting around the end of July.

In the meantime, the clock is ticking on the 2011 plan. Public hearings will be held in August and the plan needs to be completed by the end of the year so that everyone can review it before it goes to the legislature next February. With those limits, the TAG won’t have much time to research and review the proposed projects.

Because of the tight schedule, the TAG voted to create a sub-committee to review proposals that have already been made to the ABP office over the past few months and to try to add detail to some of the previously suggested projects that need more depth. Steve Chustz (the acting Director of the Program) and his staff seem to be working to get more complete recommendations for projects this year. Last year’s suggestions were not very detailed and the TAG was left without much to¬† work with and with little time to do the job. All are determined to do a better job this year and to improve with each cycle. It takes time to build a process because of the lag between planning, funding and implementation. The plans for next year need to be in place before the results of this year’s projects (including planning projects) are in. Things do seem to be looking up but the staff and the TAG can’t do it alone.

That’s where you come in. If you have a project that you would like to see carried out in the Basin, the Basin Program suggests that you get with your Parish government officials and use their engineering and planning expertise to add details to your proposal. Just suggesting that the Basin Program dig here or open a gap there, without describing why it is a good idea or what results and impact you expect, will not bode well for the project being accepted. Getting local support could make a big difference. Your project still has to undergo review by the TAG to see if it fits in with the goals of the overall water management plan for the area of the project, but it has a better chance of being considered if it has some thought behind it and if it is supported by the affected parish.

The Basin Program has been connecting people with project proposals with their officials in the parishes, so if you need help in that area, call the ABP and let them guide you through the process. Call Toni Debossier at the Basin Program for more information.

Contact info for the Basin Program and the TAG is here.

By the way, the TAG and Research and Promotion Board meetings are public, so you can attend them and find out what is going on, but if you can’t, we will try to keep you posted here as the process progresses. I know that it has been a long and frustrating process for many of you over the years, but the Basin Program has been directed to focus more on the water and access projects than in the past and they are trying to respond. Do your part and keep pushing for projects that you think will help.

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