St. John moves forward on waterline project

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, September 16, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — The St. John the Baptist Parish Finance Committee, comprised of parish Council members, awarded over $1.8 million to Grady Crawford Construction for the parish’s Mississippi River Waterline Crossing Project at this month’s meeting.

The crossing project is one of the four projects funded through the Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Public Health Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program, which 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.

Parish President Natalie Robottom said the construction of the Mississippi River Waterline Crossing project is expected to be complete by January 2015.

The four projects included in the $5.5 million of upgrades are designed to take place in two phases.

Phase one includes replacing valves, adjustments and upgrades to the water intake structure at Lions Pump Station and replacement of old filters at Lions Treatment Plant.

Phase two includes installation of a water main beneath the Mississippi River to connect Lions Water Treatment Plant on the east bank to Edgard Water Treatment Plant on the west bank, which will provide a backup water supply to the west bank customers.

The first project was deemed complete in June when the Finance Committee authorized execution of a certificate of substantial completion for a 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.

“The Utilities Department is currently working with the program manager and design engineers to design a new intake suction line, replace pumps and the electrical feed for the Lions Treatment Plant Intake Pump Station,” Robottom said of future projects funded by the loan.

“In addition, in the near future, design will begin on the replacement of old filters at the Lions Water Plant. To date, $861,124 of the DHH loan has been expended towards the altitude valves, the Mississippi River Waterline Crossing and the Lions Intake Pump Station projects.”

She said the remaining funds will be used for the construction of the Mississippi River Waterline Crossing, Lions Intake Pump Station and replacement of old filters at Lions Water Treatment Plant.

District 5 Councilman Michael Wright said it is extremely important to ensure all pending water projects advance.

“It is imperative that water projects are expedited, while at the same time focusing on accountability and the immediate improvements the quality of our water,” he said.

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.”

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.