St. John to share grant aimed at sewer problems

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — St. John Parish continues to face sewage problems that have caused havoc for East Bank residents over the past several months.

The situation was put on hold due to Hurricane Katrina, but now the parish administration is looking to get back on track, not only addressing the East Bank concerns, but also the West Bank.

Administration came to the council on Aug. 23., just before Hurricane Katrina, to request authorization for URS Corporation (engineering firm) to begin an engineering design to install a temporary packaging treatment plant at the River Road Plant, to accept an additional 100,000 gallons per day of sewage to address issues on the East Bank.

The council tabled the item, because the Department of Environmental Quality issued an enforcement order to the parish noting that the parish does have deficiencies in the system that had to be addressed before moving forward, according to Parish President Nickie Monica.

He also stated at the time that overflow was the main deficiency and that the enforcement order outlined all the deficiencies and gave specific time frames to fix them, for example if the parish experiences an overflow, they have five days to report it.

Since then, the hurricanes posed threats to the area and progress was delayed, but the item has stayed on the council agenda.

Plans to move forward with this are still in progress, and administration is planning to meet with parish engineers to pick up were they left off, according to St. John Parish Chief Administrative Officer Natalie Robottom.

In the wake of all the problems the East Bank has had with waste water, administration has recently asked support of the Parish Council on a grant operation by South Central Planning and Development Commission for water and waste water infrastructure improvements on the West Bank.

The study will help develop a comprehensive plan, like the one the East Bank has in order to stop a problem before it happens.

Robottom said the parish is taking the opportunity to develop a plan ahead of time to avoid the problems the East Bank has experienced, and are still addressing.

&#8220This is the first step,” Robottom said. &#8220We had to get approval from the council before we could move forward with this option.”

Robottom said this came about when the Environmental Protection Agency had money available after several parishes requested funds to help with sewer and water improvements. She also said the money the parish will pay will include the feasibility study, as well as cover the construction project.

This grant includes the River Parishes and will have a total federal share of $481,000 and a local match of $393,528, which is divided between the region using a per capita amount.

The total cost for the improvements will be around $874,000. St. Charles, St. James and St. John Parish will pay $81, 819, totaling the River Parishes match to around $245,000.

Keith Belanger with the South Central Planning and Development Commission said the parish will benefit from approving to be a part of the grant.

&#8220With the approval, you will also get $100,001 of federal money to go toward the comprehensive plan and also the implementation project that you all choose,” Belanger said.

&#8220So you are getting back more money than you are putting in, and this is also with the expectation that in the future you will be available to millions of dollars that Congress will appropriate through the Corps of Engineers 219 program, so we ask for your consideration to participate with the other two River Parishes.”

Belanger also stated that the other two River Parishes, St. Charles and St. James, had already approved their place.