Parish sewer plan hits a new delay

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2006


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – Yet another delay in getting a new sewer plant for St. John Parish?

That appears to be the case with the latest development in the long saga of trying to get a new sewer treatment plant built for the parish.

After the St. John Parish Council ended years of haggling to decide on a site for the new parish plant months ago, officials here have been waiting for URS Engineering to complete plans and specs for the new site.

But now a consulting firm hired by the parish has suggested yet another way to help the parish expand its much-needed sewer capacity.

Comite Resources Inc. has unveiled a new system that will allow the flow from the sewer treatment into the wetlands, rather than pump it into the Mississippi River where the waste presently goes.

Chuck Savoie, St. John parish engineer, says that the idea has merit, but still needs more explanation and cost breakdown to see if it will be worth pursuing.

Currently, St. John was on track to build a new sewer treatment plant that could handle between 2 and 4 millions gallons of waste a day, Long-term, Savoie and others say the parish will eventually need up to 10 million gallons of capability to handle growth expected here in years to come.

The Comite system claims it could handle up to 10 million gallons a day, but Savoie, a professional civil and environmental engineer hired by the parish, says he doubts that.

&#8220Realistically I think their system could handle two to four million gallons a day, maybe up to five,” he said.

While URS Engineering was getting closer to having plans ready for the new system, Savoie and parish council members agree that the new proposal will create more delays in deciding what to do.

&#8220We are at a critical point with the sewer system in this parish,” Savoid said. &#8220We need to get something done, one way or another. Maybe it will be a combination of both systems, I’m not sure.”

Parish Councilman Steve Lee didn’t like more delays in the process, but said the new system needs to be looked at.

&#8220We’re looking to see if there is merit in this and we are moving forward with both of these plans,” he said. &#8220But it will be weeks more to decide what to do, and we just don’t need more delays. We need four million gallons a day added to our system right now, and eventually 10 million gallons a day. I don’t know if this new system could do all that.”

Savoie said he was concerned that the first proposal from Comite left off major cost factors that should have been included, such as building a road to the system, lift station upgrades and electrical power.

The parish was looking at spending $10 million for its original system, and Comite is claiming they can do their system for $2 million.

&#8220But it will be higher than that when they add the other items and redo the cost breakdown,” Savoie explained.

St. John Chief Administrative Officer Natalie Robbotom said parish leaders felt that the new idea should be considered.

&#8220It’s not a bad idea,” she said, speaking for Parish President Nickie Monica. &#8220And it could certainly help on our short term situation at the very least. But of course we’re concerned that this is again going to delay our plans.”

Savoie said he is hoping to have all the information from Comite in time to bring the new proposal to the Parish Council for their Dec. 12 meeting.