Report: Sewer plant could cost more

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 18, 2001


RESERVE – Plans for the new sewer plant in Reserve are underway, but according to a recently released report, the facility could cost nearly $1 million more than originally planned and will probably be located at a different site. St. John the Baptist Parish Engineer C.J. Savoie, of C.J. Savoie Consulting Engineers Inc., submitted contracts June 19 for design and is waiting for the appropriate signatures to give him the green-light to begin the initial design. The proposed plant, a 2-million-gallon per day facility, larger than the 1.5-million-gallon per day facility original proposed and budgeted at $3.5 million, will now cost approximately $4.3 million. According to the report, the 500,000-gallon per day addition is being proposed to accept additional flow from the Belle Point Sewer Plant, the first step in a regionalization plan. The facility is designed to accommodate additions in the future and eventually become a regional system. Originally supposed to be built near the Reserve Oxidation Pond, Savoie is now looking into an alternate site. This site, an open area slightly north of the Dupont facilities and adjacent to the ICG Railroad, will require a large discharge pump station. This would increase the estimated cost from $3.5 million to $4.3 million, which requires a resolution to increase the current budget. According to Henry DiFranco, director of public works and utilities, everything now being proposed contradicts the original resolution passed by the parish council. “It enforces what administration said from the beginning,” he said. “My point was that at least three things had to be looked into before passing the resolution: size, location and cost. And all three of those things have changed since it was passed. “It needs to be looked at from a legal standpoint. What was drafted has now changed. Everything in the resolution has changed, and we don’t have a valid resolution anymore.” The original resolution to build the plant by the Reserve Oxidation Pond instead of revamping the pond and using it as a short-term solution was passed by the St. John Parish Council in a 6-3 vote in May, but shortly afterwards Parish President Nickie Monica vetoed the resolution. The veto was overridden, and the contract to build the plant was given to Savoie. “What needs to come out is the council members who passed this resolution need to be held accountable for passing it without researching first,” DiFranco said. “They arbitrarily decided to spend cash money without doing their homework and without knowing anything about it. They now need to revisit what they did and change what they did.” Council member Duaine Duffy voted against the original resolution because he thought not enough planning had gone into it. “I think that it is pretty obvious that the proposal was not well thought out,” he said. “One month later it’s already changed. We’re already expanding the budget. “This is what happens when proper planning is not done. We are still making decisions without seeing any preliminary plans.” Duffy said what is happening with the plant issue is exactly what he feared. “We’re moving on a plan that is not thought out. I’ve never seen a group rush into something like this. It’s become pretty evident that this wasn’t thought out, and it all goes back to proper planning,” Duffy said. Monica said the project is just like any other project in that it has to go through a process. “We have to find out where we are legally,” he said. The administration’s goal is to have a regional plant, which is what Savoie is proposing. “We’ll work through the process,” said Monica, who added the bigger plant will be able to accommodate additions in the future. Though the contract was awarded without having planning stages, said Monica, he has recommended the regional plant to Savoie. Savoie sent copies of his new proposal to council members, and they will have to approve it before any further plans can be made.