Corps OKs Edgard pump permit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 25, 2009


LAPLACE — A week after various council members and Parish President Bill Hubbard voiced frustrations regarding the slow process of getting an Edgard raw water pump back on line, St. John officials have learned that project has finally received authorization from the Army Corps of Engineers.

St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe said Parish Engineer Chuck Savoie received a call Thursday from corps officials stating that they have approved a permit for the parish to construct a new pump facility on the river side of the West Bank levee for extracting water from the Mississippi River to be processed at the Edgard water treatment plant. Savoie has been in a back and forth battle with the corps over the permit since 2006.

The announcement comes just nine days after a heated council discussion over the condition of temporary facilities at the Edgard treatment plant. District 1 Councilman Haston Lewis voiced particular frustration over the situation saying that the temporary diesel-powered pumps the parish has been using have been inefficient and prone to breakdowns. He was pleased to hear the news Thursday and hopes that the parish can get the job done as quickly as possible.

The parish has already secured $536,000 in state grants through the Louisiana Local Government Assistance Program (LGAP) to help pay for the $764,000 project. Boe said the remaining $228,000 would come out of the parish’s water budget. He said Boh Bros. Construction Co. of New Orleans has been contracted to do the work.

“The contractors are coming up early next week to begin pouring the concrete for the wet wells,” Boe said Thursday. “We have been ready to move on this but have been waiting for the corps to let us loose.”

The parish has been using the temporary pumps since early 2007, when the previous raw water pump collapsed. Boe said the parish has spent the last two years battling with the corps over the permits to rebuild. In that time the temporary system, which Hubbard called “a third-world operation,” has experienced repeated breakdowns, the most recent coming in December when a pump malfunction caused a decrease in water pressure for Edgard residents. The parish will make a formal announcement Tuesday night at the regular council meeting in LaPlace. The meeting is scheduled for 6:15 p.m.