Monthly rate increase will allow Gonzales to pay off sewer treatment loan

Gonzales’ expanded Sewer Treatment Plant (first dedicated in 1999)

Gonzales’ Council enacted an ordinance on Monday to raise the minimum monthly residential service rates, from $10.00 to $19.50, to pay off the low-interest (.95%) loan to upgrade to the city’s sewer treatment system.  The loan was made from DEQ’s State Revolving Fund.  The project came in under budget while fulfilling DEQ’s mandate to pump treated effluent into the Mississippi River.

Gonzales’ treatment plant is located off Hwy 44/S Burnside Ave between Hwy 30 and I-10, north of recently annexed acreage that made the upgrades an absolute necessity.

“We’ve been able to maintain among the lowest service rates in the state while setting Gonzales up for future economic success,” explained Mayor Barney Arceneaux.  “We believe this  increase will allow our Utilities Fund to self-sustain operational expenses.”

Non-residential structures will pay a minimum $30.00 per month.  All structures are subject to a “sewer use charge of four dollars ($4.00) per thousand (1,000) gallons of water used” in any given month.  The city also implemented a Wastewater Facilities Impact Fee in 2013, knowing system upgrades were going to be needed to meet growing demand.

Annual debt service is calculated at $875,000 with the impact fee expected to pay for $200,000 of the total.

As of April, when the project had all but concluded with a few minor details, the city has “taken down” $13.7 of the $15.2 million made available by DEQ.  As Gonzales’ population nears 12,000 (up from 9,781 in 2010), it became necessary to create additional sewer treatment capacity rendered more acute by the annexation of 341 acres south of I-10 which became Conway Subdivision.  City officials anticipate further population increases, more than 16,000 residents by 2030 according to one projection.

Dating back to the late 1950’s, the city’s sewer treatment infrastructure has been the key to Gonzales’ ability to attract vital retail sales and corresponding tax revenue, affording a plethora of services unavailable to residents of Ascension Parish outside the city’s limits.  How many can recall the location of Gonzales’ first sewer treatment plant?  (It was behind City Hall on the acreage currently occupied by Jambalaya Park, made possible by a successful Waste Reclamation project more than a decade ago).

With 50 lift stations inside the city limits, the system is violation-free since 2000.

Below is a description of the project which received the Community Achievement Award: Technology and Creativity from Louisiana Municipal Association and the Department of Economic Development in 2019.

PROJECT INCEPTION, PHASE I

After expanding the City boundary south of Interstate 10 to add hundreds of developable acres, it was realized, through sewer system modeling, that a net increase of greater than 1 million gallons per day should be expected at the City of Gonzales Wastewater Plant.  Throughout Gonzales’ history, infrastructure investments have always been a top priority, so the City quickly realized an addition to the 19 year old sewer facility would be necessary to accommodate the increased sewer flows. With the proactive leadership of Gonzales’ Mayor and Council to once again “stay ahead of the infrastructure curve”, a project was born.  Financing was applied for and received January 2015.

The City embarked upon and received a loan from LaDEQ’s Cleanwater State Revolving Fund for the sum of $15,170,000. The funds from this loan were earmarked to be used in three phases of improvements for the City owned Sanitary Sewer treatment system. Phase one was a monumental effort to repair, replace, or install liner throughout the existing, older gravity sewer collection system.

PHASE II

The second phase consisted of constructing two large regional sewer pump stations and associated force mains to collect and transfer the waste stream from two large developments located south of Interstate 10, as mentioned above.  The project included completion of two state-of-the-art pump stations (LS11 and LS45). Each station was comprised of a tri-pump design, automatic back-up generator, and associated equipment discharging into a new sewer force main that was bored under Interstate 10 and ultimately reached the wastewater treatment plant headworks facility.

PHASE III

The third and final phase of this project was the expansion of the wastewater treatment facility at 3213 South Highway 44. It was necessary for this project to provide a net gain in production of at least 1 million gallons per day, and pumping capacity needed to be increased to accommodate a max rate experienced during heavy rain events. A design was approved by LDEQ and bids were taken in August of 2017. The winning bid price of $5,704,486 was accepted and an 800 day project was started in September 2017.

 

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