Water election set July 17

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 18, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS – Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Residents of St. John Parish will go to the polls on July 17 to determine funding for improvements to water treatment plants and the quality of their drinking water.

The Parish Council on Tuesday approved a special item to be included on the ballot – the voters decision if they will refinance bonds backed by property taxes.

The topic has been a top priority for the past few months, and the council had no further discussion as they unanimously accepted the resolution to take the matter to the voters.

At a March meeting of the council’s Finance Committee, many members spoke in favor of placing the refinancing issue on the July ballot.

The total of the bonds, approximately $9.5 million, would be repaid over a 20-year period under current St. John Parish tax structure. Homeowners in the parish would extend paying existing property taxes for 20 years.

The council had been told last month by attorney Hugh Martin that the move to refinance would come at a good time. The parish had shown improvement in its financial condition, and coupled with a change in interest rates, refinancing was the way to go.

Water plants are in need of improvements, and the quality of the drinking water needs to be addressed, according to an administrative order from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

LDHH listed 36 areas that the parish needs to address to improve drinking water quality in a mandate sent last December.

In a public notification sent to parish residents, the St. John Consolidated Waterworks District #1 stated that the water supply is in violation of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) as set forth in the State and National Primary

(See Election, Page 10A)

Drinking Water Regulations

“This is not an emergency,” the letter states. “Although this incident is not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know what happened and what we are doing to correct this situation.”

The letter goes on to say that engineering and operational changes to the District #1 water system is continuing to be investigated and implemented by the parish.

It also states that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the LDHH do not consider the current violation to have any serious adverse effects on human health as a result of short-term exposure. However, continued long-term exposure to TTHM levels above the standards (for example, 20 years of exposure) has the potential to have serious adverse effects on human health.