“I done seen all this before, I’ve heard all this before,” Councilman Oliver Joseph dismissed the newest effort to bring sanitary sewer to east bank Ascension Parish.
“Not from me,” responded Infrastructure Director William Daniel confidently.
Unveiled at Tuesday’s meeting of the Parish Council Utilities Committee, the new plans look just like the old plans; and the million dollar (could it be the billion dollar) question remains:
How is Ascension Parish going to fund the mega-project?
Daniel assured four members of the five member committee (former chairman Benny Johnson was absent…again) that “a funding plan will be included in the Sewer Master Plan.” While an awful lot of details must be worked out, two plans thought mothballed have been revived, re-branded, and…here we go again.
Modified P-1-6 was all the rage half-a-decade ago…
With Bayou Manchac impaired, Louisiana DEQ threatening to withhold permitting and shut down development, the Council is sure to act, at least pretend to act. But we’re not going to call it “Modified P-1-6” anymore which should make all the difference (sarcasm alert). William Daniel has named it “the North Regional Sewer Plant” to distinguish it from ongoing sewer improvements at the Hillaryville/Darrow plant. For all you newcomers in north Ascension, Hillaryville/Darrow lies in the south-west corner of Ascension Parish east of the Mississippi River.
The Infrastructure Director anticipates $1.8 million in federal funds to design capacity upgrades to serve 3,566 customers along the Hwy 22/Hwy 44 corridor, ultimately pumping treated effluent into the Big Muddy where stronger current and enormous volume recommends it as DEQ’s favored repository of human waste. Daniel mentioned adding Sorrento to the system, along with 780 soon to be built houses in Riverton subdivision, and all those homes in Pelican Point.
“(Plus) other undeveloped tracts of land that, probably, are going to be developed in the not too distant future,” Daniel itemized the customer base.
The plan has been on the drawing board for quite some time without urgency since Ascension’s sewer deficiencies are north, where the comparatively miniscule Bayou Manchac cannot handle all those thousands of flushing toilets. According to Daniel there are 3,200 Prairieville customers the parish can claim as its own.
He is negotiating with two petrochemical plants for 30 acres along the Mississippi in Geismar where the North Regional Plant would/will be sited. Modified P-1-6 would take in existing residents along Hwy 42 where over $10 million in sewer pipe has been laid alongside the highway as part of DOTD’s ongoing construction. Lines would/will connect to Airline Hwy, flow south to Hwy 73, then to the treatment plant.
Utilities Chairman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee, noting that Modified P-1-6 has been around for 13 years, delved into various funding methods.
“Some folks think we need taxes, some think the SRF loan (sufficient),” Chairman Satterlee said.
Councilman Johnson is the loudest proponent of a new sewer tax.
In December 2013 DEQ offered a $60 million .9% interest loan available for Modified P-1-6. Three months later the plan was deemed unworkable for lack of customers to pay off the debt. In December of 2015 the Council authorized a Public/Private Partnership called Ascension Environmental which went nowhere fast. Other than personnel and several more neighborhoods, what has changed?
“I think this committee wants the sewer. I think this council wants the sewer,” William Daniel opined. “It sort of saddens me that (with all Ascension has going for it) we put sewer in the ditch.”