St. Charles opens water plant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 29, 2012



NORCO – St. Charles Parish officials on Tuesday cut the ribbon on a new water treatment plant that is designed to increase the east bank water system’s capacity and reliability.

The plant, which has been on line for several months, increases the capacity of east bank water treatment from 7.5 million gallons per day to 13 million gallons per day, said parish spokesperson Renee Simpson.

The $26.5 million plant is part of a plan to anticipate future growth on the parish’s east bank, which has about half of the parish’s 53,000 residents. The plant serves residential areas as well as various large industrial facilities on the east bank, Simpson said.

The parish had originally budgeted $12 million for the new plant when it was planned in 2006 after a spike in water usage pushed the limits of the existing plant, but increased construction costs after Hurricane Katrina prompted the increase.

Simpson said the parish used an $8 million loan from its general fund in 2008 to subsidize costs. The parish also raised water rates for most customers in 2006 to help pay for the improvements and assist in repaying the parish for the loan.

The new facility is accompanied by a pair of under the river pipelines that connect the east bank treatment plant to the west bank treatment plant allowing for each side to provide water to the other in the event of a malfunction or emergency at one of the plants. Simpson said the first crossing, between Hahnville and New Sarpy, came on line in December and the second was added with completion of the water plant. She said both pipes are needed for large-scale flow between the two water plants. The west bank plant had been supplying 500,000 gallons of water per day to the east bank through the pipe crossing.

Simpson said the entire pipeline project cost about $4.7 million but added that the system will assist the parish should a breakdown or oil spill threaten water intake as it did earlier this month when two barges collided upriver in Reserve and leaked oil into the river.

The parish now plans to refurbish the parish’s aging C plant, which should begin later this year, Simpson said.