St. Tammany Parish Partners With Southeastern, Comite Resources to Test Experimental Floating Marshland

A relatively low-tech method of imitating a natural marshland was implemented to help clean freshwater ponds contaminated by stormwater runoff. This research is being funded by St. Tammany Parish Government in cooperation with scientists at Southeastern Louisiana University and the wetlands assimilation company Comite Resources, Inc.

The effort is intended to improve water quality throughout St. Tammany through several water quality initiatives. Included is a project in the Del Sol subdivision of Covington that utilizes an innovative, yet relatively low-tech method of imitating a natural marshland that will help clean freshwater ponds contaminated by stormwater runoff. The $222,000 pilot project is a component of the newly initiated St. Tammany Parish stormwater management plan, a project that was launched to help the Parish determine the most efficient and effective methods to retrofit other stormwater retention ponds, turning them into water quality enhancers, according to Parish officials.

“Improving water quality and our environment in the Parish are crucial,” said St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister. “As we continue to research and implement the latest, most effective strategies to address pollution and stormwater runoff problems, we will continue to make great strides in improving the overall quality of our water throughout the entire community. Success will also make this pilot project replicable throughout St. Tammany and mimicked throughout the country.”

Members of the Water Environment Federation,a not-for-profit technical and educational organization representing water quality professionals around the world, who are in New Orleans for the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference during the week of September 24-28, 2016, toured the natural marshland site in the Del Sol neighborhood, as a conference activity, to learn about Best Management Practices that are being applied to existing stormwater ponds. Registrants who attended that tour were from throughout the United States, as well as Singapore and Mexico.

The project is being funded by the parish and implemented by Southeastern Louisiana University wetlands expert and Professor Gary Shaffer and graduate student Zach Leggett who are working with Racheal Hunter of Comite Resources, Inc. based in Zachary, La.

Rainwater runoff enters the Del Sol pond from three directions, carrying with it sediment, oils, tar, fertilizers and herbicides that accumulate in the subdivision’s watershed and contaminate the pond.

Leggett and Shaffer are evaluating the cleaning effects of a man-made floating marsh in the eight-acre pond. Leggett’s hands-on project is the focus of his master’s thesis at Southeastern.

“The floating plants take out the excess nutrients and turbidity, or cloudiness, in the water, including fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other materials that can be harmful to water quality,” Leggett said.

Last fall, Leggett and his team constructed a star-shaped, eight-armed frame of PVC piping with four-foot wide vinyl coated crab wire between the piping that acts as a platform and serves as a supporting structure for marsh plants, such as maidencane, arrowhead and spider lily. The plants attached to the netting, serve as a natural filtering mechanisms for the pond water. The predominant water plant used in the structure is maidencane, an inexpensive plant that is easily propagated in the University’s greenhouses before being transplanted into the frame.

“The maidencane roots are full of gas, so the plants tend to float on top; this makes it ideal for this kind of structure,” explained Shaffer. “Maidencane is a good plant for this purpose; the roots grow about 20 inches deep and suck up the excess nutrients in the water and help clean the pond. As an added benefit, the structure also becomes a huge refuge for small fish and other species.”    

While water quality tests are only in the early stages, Shaffer said the pond has become much clearer with a huge reduction in turbidity, or cloudiness. In addition, he said, the frames are full of minnows and juvenile fish, which greatly improves the ecosystem function of the pond.

“We expect the turbidity and nutrient levels at the site will be significantly reduced, which means we would be successful in our efforts to remove the contaminants and clear the water,” said Leggett. “And it would tell us whether maidencane is the ideal plant for this process.”

Hundreds of ponds in St. Tammany Parish are in need of water quality improvement, according to Parish officials. The Parish’s floating marshlands project, if successful, will play a significant and relatively inexpensive role in improving water quality. “

The research project and its final report are expected to be completed in 2017 after the plants have completely covered the platform.


Photos: Marshland Del Sol: Southeastern Louisiana University biological sciences graduate student Zachary Leggett ties plants to a floating platform he constructed that will serve as a floating marshland to help clean stormwater contamination in the Del Sol subdivision in St. Tammany Parish. Del Sol Tour: Members of the Water Environment Federation,a not-for-profit technical and educational organization representing water quality professionals around the world, in New Orleans for the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference tour the natural marshland site in the Del Sol neighborhood.


St. Tammany Parish Government Urges Citizens To Avoid Bogue Chitto River Until Cleared by State Health Experts After Mississippi Sewerage Spill

St. Tammany Parish Government Urges Citizens To Avoid Bogue Chitto River Until Cleared by State Health Experts After Mississippi Sewerage Spill

As a precautionary measure, St. Tammany Parish Government is strongly urging its citizens and visitors to temporarily cease swimming, wading and fishing in the Bogue Chitto River. Parish Government has been in contact with State regulatory agencies and will await the results of the State’s river testing, and more importantly the clearance of the river for any potential adverse health risks. St. Tammany is also asking its citizens to look for updates from the Louisiana Department of Health, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and Parish Government as the situation progresses.

The advisory is a direct result of a spill of six million gallons of stormwater and sewerage that was caused by a levee breach on the Bogue Chitto River near Brookhaven, MS. The Mississippi and Louisiana Departments of Environmental Quality, and the Louisiana Department of Health have all issued a “Water Contact Advisory” for the river on both sides of the state line.

For more details:

New Format for FEMA Elevation Certificates Now Available

In keeping with the guidelines set forth by FEMA, St. Tammany Parish Government is working to incorporate the newest format of the FEMA Elevation Certificate, in order to comply with FEMA guidelines, by 2017. The new format of the FEMA Elevation Certificate is now available for inspectors and land surveyors, here. An original copy of this document is required by St. Tammany Parish Government in order to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy for new residential and commercial construction, for homes and businesses that are located within a flood zone.

Elevation Certificate formats from 2012 and 2015 will still be accepted through December 31, 2016. Beginning January 1, 2017, only the newest format of the Elevation Certificates will be accepted. Residents and contractors can obtain complete information on the permitting process at


Site Work Permits Requirements Begin on September 16, 2016 in St. Tammany Parish for Non-Residential Sites

Site Work Permits Requirements Begin on September 16, 2016 in St. Tammany Parish for Non-Residential Sites
Beginning Friday, September 16, 2016, a Site Work Permit will be required for all non-residential sites in unincorporated St. Tammany, as pursuant to St. Tammany Code of Ordinances Chapter 7, Sections 7-002.00, and SEC. 7-050.00. Parish Officials implemented the Site Work Permits to address and prevent adverse drainage impacts on neighbors of new construction sites. This permit is for any work that alters the surface of the property through paving, grading, excavation, or placement of fill.  A Site Work Permit is defined as: A permit issued for paving, grading, excavation, or placement of fill on a site within unincorporated St. Tammany Parish. This permit is needed if the proposed site improvements are not already being reviewed as part of a properly issued building permit or subdivision work order.
Once a permit has been applied for, the St. Tammany Parish Department of Planning and Development will review the permit, send an inspector to the site, and issue the permit. Upon completion of the project, the builder must submit a survey that confirms their compliance with the provisions of the ordinance. The Department of Planning and Development will then complete a final drainage inspection to verify compliance, and upon verification, a certificate of occupancy can be issued. 
Applicants can apply for a Site Work Permit in person at the Department of Development located at 21454 Koop Drive in Mandeville, or online at 

2017 Decentralized Arts Funding Grants Announced for St. Tammany and St. Bernard Parishes

The St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs announces the Decentralized Arts Funding grant awards for the 2016-2017 cultural season. The St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs administers the DAF Program for both St. Tammany and St. Bernard Parishes. The grants include awards for cultural projects and organizational support, which provides direct support for arts organizations’ full seasons of work.

St. Tammany Parish

Organizational Support


Slidell Little Theatre


St. Tammany Art Association


Playmakers, Inc.


City of Slidell’s Department of Cultural & Public Affairs



Project Assistance


STARC of Louisiana, Inc.


City of Mandeville


Slidell Heritage Foundation


Covington Three Rivers Art Festival


City of Covington, Office of Cultural Arts & Events



St. Bernard Parish

Project Assistance

St. Bernard Parish Public Schools


St. Bernard Parish Library


St. Bernard Parish Government



The purpose of the Decentralized Arts Funding program is to provide funding for arts and cultural projects in every parish of the state. Applicants compete only with other organizations in their parish and decisions are made locally by a diverse review panel comprised of members of the local community. The Decentralized Arts Funding Program is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by St. Tammany Parish Government.  

“We have a deep appreciation for the arts here in St. Tammany as the arts are vital to our heritage and our identity,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “So many of our locals — born and raised here have gone on to share their artistic talents worldwide. We want the next generation to have the same opportunities to come into their artistic fullness, and this is one small way we can work towards that goal.”

 Guidelines for next year’s Decentralized Arts Funding program will be available in March 2017, and the Commission on Cultural Affairs will conduct informational workshops to assist applicants. For more information, call 985-867-5095 or visit .

St. Tammany Parish Government Offices Closed in Observance of Labor Day

All non-emergency offices of St. Tammany Parish Government will be closed on Monday, September 5, 2016 in observance of Labor Day. In addition, the Department of Animal Services will be closed on Saturday, September 3, 2016 as well. Regular business hours resume on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 8 a.m. is Live is Live        

Following the announcement one week ago by St. Tammany Parish political, business, religious and community leaders of a collective response effort to pool resources and help those affected by the recent flooding, the website is live. 

“The St. Tammany Community has responded extremely well to our calls for help, and we are grateful,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “We want to remind everyone however, that the recovery process is long and needs are abundant, so we ask that our residents visit and make the decision to help.”

The website offers options to give of your time, manpower, resources and /or money. There is a way to contact the STPCares administration to offer housing options, resources for those rebuilding, and free or reduced-cost professional services that will benefit flood victims. There are also options to sign up to volunteer with various organizations, or to make monetary contributions to various organizations.

To contact STPCares, click here, or call 985-898-3215. Visit the newly launched site at,


STPCares Will aid in Relief Effort for St. Tammany and Neighboring Communities

Government, community and business leaders came together today to announce STPCares — Community Flood Response. This collective response effort will pool resources to help those affected recover faster and stronger than they would by isolated efforts. It will offer to citizens a clearinghouse of trusted resources from which to donate and volunteer.

Officials from St. Tammany Parish Government, St. Tammany Parish Public Schools, the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation, the East St. Tammany Chamber, the St. Tammany West Chamber, the Northshore Homebuilder’s Association, the Northshore Business Council, the Northshore Community Foundation, and several other agencies, were on-hand to pledge participation and support of this unified effort which will be managed by Kevin Davis, the former Director of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

“While in a Bible study, we started talking about our community and our residents coupled with the surrounding communities, and we knew we had to offer help,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “We, as Louisianans, do not sit idly by as our neighbors struggle. When we are faced with this level of destruction and loss, our people seek to lighten the burden when we can. We step in if we are able, and those of us who were spared, help the broken become whole again.”

The St. Tammany Parish Public School System will provide a physical space and administrative help to STPCares while it is in operation.  Partnerships and aide could include: shared manpower, use of Parish facilities and resources, temporary housing and monetary help.

To reach STPCares visit . To contact STPCares to offer help call 985-898-3215 or email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

St. Tammany Parish Receives Disaster Declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency

St. Tammany Parish has received a disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This declaration makes Federal funding available to affected individuals. If you are a resident of St. Tammany, and your home or business was damaged by flood waters over the past week, you may qualify for FEMA assistance.


“This is another avenue for possible relief for St. Tammany Parish residents who need help after the weekend’s flooding,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “We appreciate being added to the declared disaster and we urge all our citizens who have received damage to call FEMA or go online to register.”


Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or by web enabled mobile device at  Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

St. Tammany Parish Moving to Recovery Stage in Flooding Disaster - Shelter CLOSED

St. Tammany Parish Government will begin to transition from response to recovery for the current flooding disaster. The following actions will be implemented today:

1.     Parish’s Emergency Operations Center will be ramping down and closed

2.     Disaster Shelter at Coquille Sports Complex will be closed

3.     St. Tammany Parish Public Works and Engineering will begin conducting assessments of road and bridge damage

4.     Department of Inspections and Enforcement will make plans for Preliminary Damage Assessment teams to cover the Parish to document damage to homes and structures beginning tomorrow morning at 7:30a.m.

Parish President Pat Brister has waived the permit fees for rebuilding resident’s homes that sustained damage as a result of the flooding over the last several days. Parish President Brister has also reached out to Tangipahoa Parish President Robbie Miller to offer assistance of St. Tammany Parish Government’s damage assessment teams. Several of St. Tammany Parish Government employees will be providing technical support to augment the effort of Tangipahoa Parish.

St. Tammany Parish residents that have sustained damage from this flooding event are asked to contact Parish Government via email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or by calling 985-898-2700, and leaving a message with name, street address and contact telephone number.