Teche Vermilion Fresh Water District

The Teche-Vermilion Freshwater District Board of Commissioners was created as a unique joint cooperative agreement of the federal, state, and local governments.  It is a political subdivision of the state.  Almost all of its funding comes from property taxes from the owner parishes, Lafayette, Vermilion, Iberia, and St. Martin.

I.  Power

The historical flow of water from the Atchafalaya River via Bayou Courtableau to the Bayou Teche and Vermilion River basins was cut off by protection levees built by the Army Corps of Engineers after the flood of 1927.  A study in 1961 by the state’s Department of Public Works showed deteriorating water quality and insufficient water in Bayou Vermilion and Bayou Teche.  Ground water was threatened with contamination by salt water due to lack of flow of the Teche and Vermilion Bayous.

 The 1966 federal Flood Control Act included construction of the Teche-Vermilion Basins Project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After completion of the project, four parishes were given possession of the property— Lafayette, Vermilion, Iberia, and St. Martin.

The state legislature created the Teche-Vermilion Freshwater District Board of Commissioners in 1969.   The Board of Commissions was charged with responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the original project of the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as major replacements. There is an intergovernmental agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers.

The purpose of the project is to restore the flow of water to the Teche-Vermilion basin, improve water quality through the increased flow, and prevent salt water from entering the lower parts of the basin. The increased flow is also intended to restore the water supply available for agricultural and industrial needs before the protection levees were built.

Teche-Vermilion Freshwater District Board of Commissioners has 4 full voting members—one from each of the 4 member parishes, and an advisory member, who can vote on all matters relating to drainage, who is appointed by the St. Landry parish government. Each commissioner is appointed by the police jury or parish council of his/her parish.  Commissioners must be registered voters and residents of the parish they represent.  The Chairman is appointed by the Board of Commissioners.  Commissioners receive a per diem reimbursement and their milage for attending each Board meeting.

The Board of Commissioners meets monthly and receives the Director’s report.  The Board sets policies to be carried out by the staff.  The Executive Director is responsible for direct observation of the elements of the project.  The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) is assigned the responsibility of doing engineering and inspections for the project.  The Teche-Vermilion Freshwater District Board of Commissioners does not have an engineer on its staff.

 II.  Services

The  small administrative staff is located in Lafayette. The pumping station, near Krotz Springs, has a somewhat larger staff. 

The Teche-Vermilion Freshwater District Board of Commissioners operates, maintains, and replaces a series of seven structures to regulate the flow of water through its natural tributaries—from the Atchalafaya River to Bayou Courtableau, Bayou Fuselier, Bayou Vermilion, Bayou Teche, and Bayou Amy.

  1. The pumping station
  2. The state canal siphon
  3. Conveyance Channel Control Structure
  4. Feeder canal/borrow pit control structure
  5. Bayou Fusilier control structure
  6. Ruth Canal Diversion Structure
  7. Loreauville Canal control structure

III.  Funding

The annual budget is proposed by the Executive Director for adoption by the Board of Commissioners.   Any amendment to the budget  must be approved by the Board of Commissioners. 

1.5 mils rate has been renewed every ten years by the voters of Lafayette, Vermilion, Iberia, and St. Martin Parishes since the initial referendum in 1970.  The millage funds the maintenance, operation, and replacement of the equipment, channels, and structures.

The tax was written for construction, establishment, extension, maintenance, operating and protection of a fresh water supply and abating pollution in Bayou Teche and the Vermilion River.  Each of the four participating parish governments must approve putting renewals and any new tax on the  ballot. 

A cash reserve for maintenance and replacement of all features of the project is required to be on hand by the Army Corps of Engineers. This cash reserve is now being called upon to begin replacing and updating the project's original equipment. 

2014 Income

89%  Property taxes from 4 parishes

7%  Interest on required reserve funds

1%  Miscellaneous

3%   State revenue sharing

2014 Expenditures

25%  Personnel           

 18%  Utilities

 51%  Other services & Charges-repairs & maintenance, professional services, rent, supplies for equipment, etc.    

                             6% Capital outlay 

 

 Sources

“Teche-Vermilion Fresh Water District , a feature of the Mississippi River and Tributaries Flood Control Project of 1928.” Teche-Vermilion Fresh Water District

Financial Review, December 31, 2014, Teche-Vermilion Fresh Water District

 “Water District Tax Renewal Could Face Questions,” The Independent, 12-18-2009

Interview, Donald Sagrera, Executive Director, Teche-Vermilion Freshwater District, Lafayette, LA


Updated July 2015

 

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