Parish showcases Convent water plant upgrades

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 8, 2011



CONVENT – The St. James Parish Council on Wednesday approved the substantial completion of improvements made to the parish’s east bank water treatment plant in Convent.

The improvements, which took about a year to complete, increase the plant’s treatment capacity from 1.2 million gallons per day to 3 million gallons per day. Parish director of operations Jody Chenier said the increase was necessary because the plant is constantly operating at or near 900,000 gallons per day.

“If there is a major drought or a spill in the parish, quantity would be a problem,” Chenier said. “This will satisfy any quantity demands we may have from new industry coming to the east bank.”

Guy Hopkins Construction of Baton Rouge was the contractor on the $2.3 million project. Parish President Dale Hymel said the parish used a $1.6 million federal grant to cover most of the work, which included new clarifiers, filters and intake pumps. He added that more improvements are on the way.

“We need to also improve the pump house on the river bank,” Hymel said. “We are also working to secure funding and finish design on an underground pipe to connect the east bank water plant to the west bank plant.”

Hymel said the underground pipe would ensure continued water service should one of the plants become disabled.

In other action from Wednesday’s meeting, the council approved a cooperative endeavor agreement with the South Central Planning and Development Commission to obtain a $7,836 state Homeland Security Grant. Hymel said the grant will help the parish in defraying the $9,000 cost of purchasing two new radios for the parish Department of Emergency Preparedness.

Parish Emergency Preparedness Director Eric Deroche said the radios are used in emergency situations, as well as day-to-day operations.

The council also briefly continued the discussion of a parishwide recycling program.

Councilman Elwyn Bocz said he and other parish officials, including the mayors of Gramercy and Lutcher, recently met with representatives from Waste Management Inc. to talk about starting the recycling program. Bocz said officials are “shying away” from any curbside pickup program, but there is interest in looking at designating four locations for drop-off recycling.

“I wanted to make sure that the two mayors had the blessing of their Board of Aldermen before we proceed with another meeting about it,” Bocz said.

The council also set times for parishwide Halloween trick-or-treating from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Several council members said many residents appreciated the early start times so that most of the trick-or-treating could be done while it is still light out.