The January 30 meeting of the Ascension Parish Council’s Utilities committee saw a lengthy and in-depth presentation by interim Infrastructure Director Ken Dawson on the Administration’s efforts toward establishing sewer.
In his presentation, Dawson stated that the goal for the Parish was to provide sewer treatment at a fair and reasonable cost to the residents, which also results in parish waterways being clean and healthy. He noted that of the approximately 40,000 residences in the parish, half are served by private treatment facilities, and the remaining 20,000 are either septic tanks or individual treatment units. Of those, only 50 send treated wastewater into the Mississippi river, with the rest going into streams such as Bayou Manchac and the Amite River. Louisiana DEQ has designated these two streams as impaired.
The program put forward by Dawson and the administration would include a modest inspection fee of perhaps $10 per month which would help to pay for a survey to identify users, perform inspections, and conduct random samplings of personal systems. He assured the committee that the parish would receive support and assistance from DEQ for sampling and education.
Dawson informed the committee that the administration was studying a similar program in place in St. Tammany Parish, which includes not only monitoring but public education and outreach. Dawson said that since St. Tammany instituted their plan, sewer related problems have been reduced.
President Cointment added that he had attended meetings with DEQ and the Corps of Engineers where he learned what a tremendous impact such a program would have almost immediately on the impaired waterways.
“It would also allow the parish to capitalize on grant monies out there that are time sensitive,” said Cointment. He added that there was a great sense of urgency, in that opportunities that exist today may not be available for long.
The fees and grants received, coupled with assistance from DEQ, may help to offset repairs and future hookup costs.
The members of the Utilities Committee responded positively, pledged their support, and asked to be kept informed of the progress. Cointment promised the committee a full public outreach and a completely open process.
A video of the full presentation can be seen on the Parish’s YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsGq6Z9Mp10