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|OPPJ steps up efforts to improve western Ouachita sewer districts|
Lazenby & Associates will seek funding for a project to eliminate some of West Ouachita Sewer District No. 16's neighborhood treatment plants following action by the Ouachita Parish Police Jury.
The police jury dealt with the matter Monday during its regular meeting.
Over the summer, the police jury commissioned Lazenby & Associates to conduct an inventory of No. 16's individual sewer systems.
Lazenby & Associates looked at the sewer systems within No. 16 that are owned by the police jury as well as those owned by other companies.
During Monday's meeting, Kevin Crosby with Lazenby & Associates discussed the findings from Lazenby & Associates' engineering study.
There are 25 total sewer systems in Sewer District No. 16, Crosby said. Of those, seven are owned by the police jury. They are operated by Greater Ouachita Water Company.
"We went back and researched all the information from DEQ (Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality) all the way from January 2000," Crosby said. "There were several subdivisions that had violations. The ones owned by the jury had very few problems. Your treatment plants were operating properly and Greater Ouachita is doing a good job."
He said people who are serviced by the seven neighborhood sewer systems the police jury owns pay $30 a month for their sewer service.
Each year, those seven sewer systems in No. 16 have revenue of $92,160, but it costs the police jury $141,614 to operate and maintain the sewer systems, Crosby said.
"So, basically we've got an annual deficit of $49,454," Crosby said.
Over the summer, the police jury raised sewer rates in Sewer District No. 16 from $22.50 to $30 to help eliminate some of that deficit. While No. 16 operates at a negative cash flow, the police jury must use money from its general fund to maintain operations.
He said based on the current customers within the seven sewer systems the police jury owns, the sewer rate would need to be raised from $30 to $47 to eliminate the deficit.
"And, that would not provide any significant funds for major rehab, and plant upgrades, which should be expected as plants age," Crosby said.
When the jury raised rates over the summer, there was debate of raising that amount to at least $45 a month, but the jury decided that would be too big of an increase at one time.
Crosby said the only way to reverse the deficit immediately would be to raise sewer rates.
"Outside of raising those fees, there is no short-term," Crosby said.
Juror Charles Jackson said there are no plans to raise those rates again in the immediate future.
According to Crosby, another option would be to take some of No. 16's sewer systems offline and tie into West Ouachita Sewer District No. 5, which he says is a project that has several benefits.
One of the reasons for the project is to allow for more development outside of Sewer District No. 5, he said.
Another reason, Crosby said, is to take small sewer systems offline in No. 16 that cost the police jury each month.
The ultimate goal is to eliminate the package treatment systems in No. 16 and have effluent transported through Sewer District No. 5 to the regional treatment plant operated by the city of West Monroe.
Parish officials hope to make Sewer District No. 16 a single collection system similar to Sewer District No. 5.
He said there would need to be an agreement between Sewer Districts No. 5 and No. 16 to transport effluent from No. 16 through No. 5 into the treatment plant operated by the city of West Monroe.
"The most economical solution would be to come through No. 5," Crosby said. "There would be some give and take with both sewer districts, but both stand to benefit from this project," Crosby said.
"There's no doubt in my mind we can come up some type of agreement both sewer districts can live with."
The project also would aid local efforts to remove Graphic Packaging off the Sparta Aquifer, Crosby said.
That project involves ongoing efforts to remove Graphic Packaging from the Sparta Aquifer by allowing it to use wastewater in its production process.
Treated water would be pumped into Graphic Packaging's plant in West Monroe. Graphic would use the treated water to help mitigate the 10 million gallons of water per day the plant currently draws from the Sparta.