St. Charles monthly sewer rates increase

Published 11:45 pm Friday, June 29, 2012



HAHNVILLE – Starting in August, St. Charles Parish residents will begin to notice a rate increase on their monthly sewer bills. Parish officials say the fee hike is necessary as part of an effort to make the parish’s wastewater system more self-sufficient and will help free up money for levee projects.

Parish spokesperson Renee Simpson said sewer bills will rise by nearly 37 percent over the next two years. She said residents will see increases of 57 cents per 1,000 gallons of water used go into effect in July. Similar increases will hit customers in 2013 and 2014, bringing the rate from the current $4.67 per 1,000 gallons used to $6.38 in 2014.

St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said in a statement that his administration is looking for ways to increase available funding for the wastewater department’s sewer plants and infrastructure. A parish ordinance gives St. Pierre the authority to increase wastewater rates without approval from the parish council.

“Over just the last four years, the Wastewater Department has used more than $11 million from the parish’s general fund to complete needed refurbishments and repairs,” St. Pierre said. “Having to raise rates is not ideal, but doing so will help ensure this critical service is receiving some additional funds needed to sustain itself in the future.”

Simpson said recent projects include a $3.5 million refurbishment of mechanical components at the Hahnville and Destrehan wastewater plants and a $6.5 million upgrade to at least seven priority lift stations paid for by a loan from the state Department of Environmental Quality. The loan will be paid off over 20 years from the parish’s general fund.

“A 2000 engineering study commissioned by the parish recommended a rate increase due to the high cost of plant maintenance and operations and need for project funding in wastewater,” Simpson said. “Wastewater rates have not increased since 2006. In 2011, the Wastewater Department reported an operating loss of $3.1 million.”

St. Pierre said he also wants to free up cash flow for upcoming construction of the parish’s west bank hurricane protection levee.

“With phase two of the levee project nearing construction, I felt it was the time to begin shoring up areas in the budget that could potentially remove funds from that project,” St. Pierre said. “With these changes, we will be able to commit more money to the levee project and other important drainage projects in the parish knowing that wastewater is in better shape financially.”

Simpson said the Wastewater Department in St. Charles Parish is unique in that it operates completely on user fees, much like the parish’s waterworks department. It does not derive any funding from property taxes or sales taxes, nor is it consistently subsidized by an outside source.

Simpson said the rate increase is expected to generate additional revenue in the amount of $415,196 in 2012. For more detailed information on Wastewater Department finances, log on to and click on ‘Wastewater Rate Information’ on the left side of the page.