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This page contains a single entry by Westley Annis published on September 21, 2007 10:10 PM.

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Who is Responsible?

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We all rely on government services for such basic necessities as roads and drainage. But when the government, especially local government, does work on private property, who is responsible for damages?

The Lafourche Parish Council is responsible for drainage within the unincorporated areas of the parish. Because of the vast number of homes and the distances between some of them, it is nearly impossible for the parish to place covered culverts in front of everyone's home for drainage purposes. Therefore, many homes just have an open ditch in front for drainage.

The primary maintenance of these ditches, cutting the grass and keeping the ditch free of obstructions, is the responsibility of the individual homeowner. Since not everyone wants to be bothered with the maintenance of the ditch, the parish does allow homeowners to pay for the installation of a covered culvert in front of their house.

The homeowner buys the material, a list of which is supplied by the parish, and then pays for parish workers to install the culverts. In effect, the parish becomes a contractor, hired by the homeowner, to install the culvert. What happens if the culvert is not installed correctly and hinders the proper flow of drainage? Who is responsible for the cost of repair?

If the water does not drain properly it can collect in the catch basins that are installed along with the culverts. When you have a period of light to no rain, there is never enough water to force water through the culverts, which allows the water to sit and become stagnant. Much worse, the water becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes. With the ever growing threat of West Nile virus, what started as a minor drainage issue becomes a major health issue. Again, who is responsible?


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