St. John generator project ups parish flood response

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, March 22, 2017

LAPLACE — The next time a storm threatens St. John the Baptist Parish, residents and business owners can have more confidence that the local pumping systems will keep them safe and dry.

Generators have been installed at pumping and lift stations throughout the Parish, which will keep floodwaters and wastewater moving, even in the event of a power outage.

In addition, automatic switches have been installed, which will allow utilities workers to activate the generators remotely with a much quicker response time.

“This will keep things running normally in the event of a power outage,” said Blake Fogleman, director of utilities in St. John Parish. “People will still be able to flush their toilets. It (also) will allow me to reallocate my personnel to cover ground.

“The switches will allow us to activate the generators without actually having to send a man over there to flip a switch. That will allow me to put my men where they’re needed most.”

The $1.4 million improvement project, funded by a Hurricane Gustave-Ike Office of Community Development Block Grant, included the installation of seven permanent generators above flood elevations.

Generators were installed at the LaPlace Park and Belle Grove pumping stations, Percy Hebert Lift Station, wastewater plants in Garyville and on the West Bank at Central Avenue, Tigerville and Wallace.

Facilities upgrades also included automatic transfer switches at the Persimmon Street and Crevasse pumping stations. Those will allow officials to activate stations remotely.

“Adding generators to critical infrastructure allows for continuity of services when it’s needed most,” said St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom.

“We were extremely fortunate to receive GOHSEP grant funds for seven permanent generators and two automatic transfer switches at once. Without this funding, our employees would be charged with transporting and connecting temporary generators in the midst of an emergency. This project greatly improves the parish’s capacity and preparation for emergency events.”

Fogleman explained the pumping stations handle rainwater while the lift stations handle wastewater.

Having generators to supply backup power will allow the pumping stations to continue to handle rainwater and allow the lift stations to continue to handle and treat wastewater.

They should keep everything operating at normal capacity, even in the event of a power outage.

“That way, nothing is being dumped into the river or anything,” Fogleman said. “It’s good for the environment as well as protecting residents.”

More projects are on the horizon, Fogleman said, including the construction of the Reserve Oxidation Pond, which will be used to treat 3 million gallons of wastewater per day in a more natural and cost-effective manner.

The $8 million project is funded through an EPA grant and the 2010 Bond Issue and construction bids are scheduled to be opened this week.

Fogleman said this project has been in the works for nearly 15 years.