Water bill relief: Council members propose impact assistance

Published 11:45 pm Friday, September 19, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — Those St. John residents impacted by the recent discovery of Naegleria fowleri ameba in their water may soon see some water bill relief.

Water bill adjustments for 12,577 St. John the Baptist Parish residents are under consideration after the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals announced testing last month confirmed the presence of the ameba in the St. John Water District 1 water system, which led to a protective order advising impacted residents to run baths, shower taps and hoses for five minutes before use to flush out the pipes.

The water system serves people in Reserve, Garyville, Mt. Airy and a small portion of LaPlace on West 5th Street from Acorn Street to Apricot Street.

Several Parish Council members said residents affected by the announcement should benefit from a water bill adjustment since directions from the parish instructed residents to use extra water, and the extra time running water would mean increases in bills.

“Some people are on fixed income and they can’t afford $20 or $10,” Councilman Lennix Madere Jr. said during this month’s Parish Council meeting.

Councilman Ranney Wilson agreed and suggested a three-month average of a resident’s water bills before the announcement be taken and charged on water bills going forward until the flushing advisement ceases.

Parish President Natalie Robottom agreed to review water bills in the impacted areas, and Parish Communications Director Paige Falgoust said this week all the information has been collected.

“This information will allow for administration to make an informed decision on reimbursement to residents,” Falgoust said.

No adjustments have been announced yet.

Robottom is expected to report back to Council members Tuesday on a parish recommendation.

Falgoust said because parish water bills are mailed in cycles, Reserve residents have received a monthly bill that includes nine days of the Emergency Order time period, but Garyville and Mt. Airy residents have not received a bill for a time period including the Emergency Order.