St. John’s east bank asked to conserve water

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2011



LAPLACE – Severe drought conditions affecting the area over the past month coupled with the intense heat over the past few weeks has prompted St. John the Baptist Parish officials to request that east bank residents conserve water whenever possible.

Parish spokesperson Paige Braud said the two water plants that serve the east bank of the parish, one in LaPlace and one in Reserve, are each operating at maximum output capacity of about 8 million gallons of water per day because of increased water usage from residents watering lawns, washing cars or filling swimming pools. She said the parish is asking residents to refrain from non-essential water use during the peak hours of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We just want residents to refrain from activities that use large quantities of water whenever possible,” Braud said. “There is no shortage, but we want to make sure that there is an adequate amount of water for all residents.”

Braud said the parish is also asking residents to implement water conservation methods for daily activities such as washing clothes, flushing toilets, showering and dish washing in an effort to prevent future restrictions. She said the conservation could help lower many residents’ water bills.

“There is no set time or length for the request. We are just asking residents to be mindful of their usage,” Braud said.

The extreme drought conditions in the region have also not helped things. According to figures from the National Weather Service, the months of April, May and much of June have been the driest on record for southeast Louisiana. The region averaged about .79 inches of rainfall for all of April and May, which is more than 9 inches below normal for this time of year. The area received some brief relief this week from a line of storms producing substantial rainfall but not nearly enough to remedy the drought.

The parish has taken steps to remedy the water quantity concerns affecting the east bank. An element of the parish’s 2009 bond issue was an expansion at the Lions water treatment plant in Reserve to ease the burden on the LaPlace treatment plant. The $3 million expansion project, which began in April 2010, will increase treatment capacity at Lions from 3 million gallons per day to 5 million gallons per day.

Braud said the expansion will increase the plant’s footprint to serve more residents in LaPlace. The plant already supplies water to all of Reserve and Garyville as well as a small portion of LaPlace.

Braud said work at the plant has been sidelined since May when high water levels on the Mississippi river prompted an end to major construction projects near the levee. Once the parish receives word from the Army Corps of Engineers that work can resume, the project will have about another 30 days before completion.