Included in Thursday’s Ascension Parish Council meeting packet are the selling points for a proposed agreement between National Water Infrastructure, Inc. (NWI) and Ascension Parish. The agreement, along with sale of certain parish-owned assets, will be put before the voters on April 24.
Sewer Contract Bullet Points
1. SALE of All East Bank Sewer Assets to NWI: Ascension will no longer have Parish owned sewer utilities on the East Bank. NWI will have acquired all assets, customers, and responsibility of building, operating, and maintaining the Regional System. The rates will be regulated by the LPSC like every other utility in the Parish. For any rate increase, NWI has to participate in a thorough audit with LPSC to get such rate increases approved. The Council will not be the rate setter.
2. $10-$15 Million Cash Payment to the Parish for East Bank Assets: (Still waiting for Final Appraisal and List of All Assets that are to Be Transferred) – Once approved by the LPSC, AP will receive the one-time cash payment to infuse into other programs such as recreation, drainage, or transportation.
3. $15 Million +/- Currently in the Utilities Fund: Will be available for a Major Project(s) in which Chairwoman Casso will be getting input on from the Council Members.
4. $3+ Million Saved Annually in Parish Budget: The millions we currently use to subsidize the utilities from the General Fund for these sewer customers will be saved, where it can also be spent on more desired programs and projects.
5. Reduced Flooding and Drainage Maintenance Costs: By reducing the amount of water in the ditches, Parish flooding will be reduced and maintenance costs to continuously clean out drainage ditches will be significantly reduced.
6. $1+ Million saved From Oak Grove Upgrades: Oak Grove Treatment System will become property of NWI, who will then make all necessary upgrades needed.
7. 4.5% Annual Franchise Fee on all NWI Customers to Ascension Parish: The 4.5% Franchise Fee will be a line item of the sewer bill to the customers that will then be paid annually to the Parish based off of customers registered on the NWI’s Tariff with the LPSC. The Franchise Fee is estimated to generate roughly $500K/year to start and grow from there (as NWI customer revenues increase, the franchise fee increases). Council could potentially make this the first dedicated Recreation Funding in the history of our Parish.
8. Obligations of Construction of the Regional System/Terms of Franchise Agreement: Getting our waterways cleaned have always been priority #1. To ensure NWI does exactly what they have promised Ascension Parish, there is specific language for the Franchise Agreement that they must abide by. The Franchise Agreement is based upon NWI using best efforts to complete Phase 1 of the Regional System within 60 months. If NWI has not shown good faith that they Sewer Contract Bullet Points have used their best efforts to do such, the Council can then vote to REVOKE their Franchise Agreement. At the same time if it appears NWI is using their best efforts to accomplish Phase 1 within 60 months but will come up short, the Council can extend their Franchise Agreement in showing good faith. We have the ability to take away their right to use our Parish owned Right of Way, if the Regional System is not delivered as promised.
9. Parish Notification of NWI Infrastructure/Relocating Sewer Infrastructure: NWI will submit all Engineered Drawing to the Parish, so we can work together to plan for any potential future improvements of roadways or drainage to eliminate the need to move this equipment at a later date. They must also move any new infrastructure they have installed that is required for road/drainage projects at no cost to the parish.
Example– They submit plans to lay pipe where we have a roundabout planned in the future. We can address the issue then instead of moving these pipes later down the road at a cost to the customers.
10. New Sewer Infrastructure for DOTD Projects: DOTD requires the Parish to install sewer pipe infrastructure for all of their projects. NWI will do such at no cost the parish, provided that the LPSC approves such costs, and within the applicable timeline set forth by DOTD.
11. Sewer in Open Ditches/Waterways: This will of course decrease the amount of sewer in our roadside ditches/front yards and our most important waterways throughout the Parish and our neighbors. The first phase of the Ascension Sewer consolidation will remove an estimated 3 million gallons per day of effluent from Bayou Manchac, reversing the current impairment declaration by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Further we will be decommissioning numerous neighborhood package plants and returning those locations to valuable community greenspace.
12. An estimated $200 Million Investment in the Parish: NWI will invest an expected $200 million in Ascension Parish to build a modern consolidated sewer system in the first phase of the project, which will create hundreds of construction jobs.
13. Total Dollars Potentially Earned/Saved for Duration of 20 Year Franchise Agreement:
- ZERO Ascension Parish Tax Payer Dollars Invested
-$10 Million Payment (Low Number for Worst Case) for Assets
-$15 +/- Million in Utilities Fund Saved
-$3 Million Annually in Subsidies X 20 Years = $60 Million
-$500K Annually in Franchise Fees (Not including any New Customers) X 20 Years = $10 Million
- Total over 20 Years = $95 Million saved and earned for the taxpayers to go to Transportation, Drainage, Recreation, etc. on a worst-case scenario.
The proposed agreement can be viewed, in toto: