Sewer solution backed up as St. John Council debates

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — In the Louisiana Public Health Sanitary Code, it states, “All component facilities of a community sewerage system shall, at all times, be maintainedŠThe bypass of any raw or partially treated sewage from a community sewerage system is prohibited.”

This was the statement read by Clyde Carlson with Louisiana Public Health to the massive crowd at the St. John the Baptist Parish Council meeting Tuesday night, in reference to the continuing and severe sewer problems in LaPlace and Reserve.

Carlson stated the need for records of the River Road Sewer Treatment Plant, in which Councilman Steve Lee responded, “We have done everything you are telling us about already, for the past four years. We just haven’t taken any action.”

This was followed by screams from the crowd saying, “Well, what is it going to take?”

Director of Public Utilities Ralph C. Bean addressed the letter he wrote to Parish President Nickie Monica requesting immediate action on “placing a moratorium on any new residential or commercial construction in the LaPlace and Reserve areas.”

Parish Engineers C.J. Savoie and Mike Paterno came to the stand and voiced their concerns.

“Almost all the plants are to capacity,” said Savoie. “With no other alternatives we came back to the original site. We’ve got to come up with a solution. We can have something temporary, but we’ll eventually come back to the same problem.”

Paterno said the parish faced this problem four years ago and now there is limited capacity for construction of a regional sewer plant.

“It is more important to address long term issues,” said Paterno. “Cost is coming into question. I think this is what we need to look at. It doesn’t matter where it goes, it just needs to go.”

Savoie and Paterno both stated the need for a moratorium to be placed on any new

construction, because of all the extra sewage flow to the River Road sewer treatment plant, that, according to Bean, has already surpassed its capacity of 4.5 MGD (million gallons per day) to 5.6 MGD in the first three months of this year.

LaPlace resident Suzanne Johnson said she is tired of this situation and having to watch her nephew play in the yard that fills up with sewage when it rains.

“I really just think the parish could take a stand on improving the sewage system, before we build thousands of homes,” said Johnson. “I don’t want to hurt the homebuilders and leave them without the ability to make money; however, I would like to be ensured that the problem will not get worse as we continue to grow in size. Because the Parish cannot give us that answer today, I have to support a moratorium.”

Reserve resident Raydel Morris said he basically ran the St. John Parish Sewer Department for 24 years and considers himself to be a sewer expert based on his experience.

“I feel the council is getting a lot of false information,” said Johnson. “I think the problems they are having can be fixed quick and simple and at a minimum cost, but I’m not a councilman and I don’t vote, soŠ”

Another resident of LaPlace Barry Firman has plans to move out of the area.

“They actually forced me to sell my house in St. John Parish,” said Firman. “Matter of fact, I’m going to the closing of my house on the 27th of this month and I am moving to Sorrento. I am just sick and tired, and fed up with St. John Parish. They are not going to take action on this.”

Councilman Ronnie Smith disagreed with the idea of a moratorium on new construction and asked Savoie and Paterno to come up with three possible sites for a regional sewer plant by the next council meeting on June 14.