1st of many water upgrades complete

Published 11:45 pm Friday, June 13, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — One of four projects included in the $5.5 million water system improvement and update to St. John the Baptist Parish’s drinking water system is complete.

At its Tuesday meeting, the St. John Parish Finance Committee authorized execution of a certificate of substantial completion for the project, which included installation of new altitude valves and appropriate piping and supports on four water towers throughout the parish to improve water pressure in the water towers.

Designed by Environmental Engineering Services, LLC of LaPlace, the project was constructed by Mitchell Contracting Inc. of Covington at a cost of $332,850.

St. John Parish’s utilities department began construction on the altitude valve project in February, which is the one of four projects funded through the Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Public Health Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program.

DHH awarded $5.5 million to St. John the Baptist Waterworks Districts 1 and 2 in October to implement several improvements to the parish’s aging drinking water systems.

The four improvements are designed to take place in two phases. Phase one includes the three projects of replacing valves, adjustments and upgrades to the water intake structure at the Lions Pump Station and replacement of old filters at the Lions Treatment Plant. Phase two includes installation of a water main beneath the Mississippi River to connect the Lions Water Treatment Plant on the east bank to the Edgard Water Treatment Plant on the west bank, which will provide a backup water supply to the west bank customers.

The new Lions Treatment Plant filters, and a water line under the river “will create redundancy throughout the water system, while the parish takes advantage of 30 percent forgiveness of the loan’s principal,” Parish President Natalie Robottom said.

“This is an added value of the loan program that frees up parish funds for future projects.”

The grant allows for additional subsidy in the form of principal forgiveness of up to 30 percent of the loan principal, with a cap of $1,125,000 of principal forgiveness per project.

Assistant Secretary for Public Health J.T. Lane said the DWRLF program “gives local communities a source of dependable and affordable financing to bring their water treatment facilities up to the latest and most modern technology that keeps their residents safe and healthy.”