Wright: New financial system should help with water bill irregularities

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Metergate continues to plague residents and businesses throughout St. John the Baptist Parish.

Over nearly the last two years, we have seen a fluctuation in the multitude of issues ranging from mechanical failure to human error to antiquated software that manages our system.

When our parish meters were replaced ten plus years ago, we failed to fully upgrade our system. With our new financial system being activated, I feel optimistic that we are one step in the right direction of this long overdue problem.

Many residents are continuing to receive under “estimated” bills for a long period of time only to get hit with a large bill upon finally receiving an “actual” reading.

The Parish Council has stressed that this is unacceptable, with President Robottom agreeing.

During the interim period, if we cannot get an actual read of meters parishwide every month, we need to at least get control of the number of consistent estimated bills going out every month until we can manage what we have.

Our residents cannot continue to receive unaffordable bills.

• Parish officials are in the process of obtaining maintenance permits for canal clearing and canal dredging. Currently on the list are 36 canals for clearing and snagging and six canals for dredging.

The canals that are on the permit list to be dredged are the Woodland Canal, Godchaux Canal, Moll Canal, Haydel Canal, Vicknair Canal and the Reserve Relief Canal.

It’s imperative we receive these permits to dredge and clear these canals with Hurricane Season quickly approaching.

Successful efforts were made to clear 30+ culverts under the interstate that were blocked. The drainage arteries north of the interstate are silted in, causing an influx of water to bottleneck and slowly drain our parish.

This is causing water to accumulate in neighborhoods throughout areas of the parish. Dredging these canals will play a role in relieving some of those areas of the bottlenecking.

• Last year St. John residents passed a 7 mill increase in property taxes to help pay our $50 million match share of an $800 million hurricane and flood protection levee stretching 18 miles from the Bonnet Carre Spillway to Mt. Airy.

Hurricane Isaac, Gustav and Ike fully exposed our vulnerability to flooding and tidal surges and The Great Flood of 2016 threatened homes and businesses.

After more than 40 years of study, the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Risk Reduction Project received Congressional authorization to move forward in December of 2016. Rest assured, your leaders are working diligently on this at every opportune moment.

Congressman Richmond and Congressman Graves have been advocates for St. John in D.C., working closely with St. John Parish officials.

The No. 1 question that myself, along with other parish leaders, receive is, “How will you pay for your share?”

Thanks to St. John residents, we have an answer to that question.

Stay tuned with more information to come on the progress of St. John’s levee.

Michael P. Wright is St. John the Baptist Parish Council District 5 representative. Contact him at District5@sjbparish.com or m.wright@sjbparish.com.