LIVINGSTON — An agreement signed by officials Wednesday should help Livingston Parish collect long-overdue sewer bills, Parish President Layton Ricks said.

Parish records show customers owe the parish about $275,000 in overdue sewer bills and penalties.

The parish has had no leverage to collect from some of the customers of its sewage system, because they don’t obtain water from the parish. That means the parish can’t cut off their water to collect sewer bills, Ricks said.

Under the agreement, French Settlement Water Company, which supplies water to many of those customers, has agreed to collect sewage bills for the parish along with the company’s water bills.

Marshall Harris, chairman of the Parish Council, said most of the unpaid sewer bills are from the area where the company supplies water.

Harris said he brought the matter up with officials with the water company, because he knew its water lines ran parallel to the parish’s sewer lines.

The company, which has the power to cut off a customer’s water for nonpayment, will collect both sewer and water bills from its customers and will receive a maintenance fee from the parish, Harris said.

The agreement — which was worked on by Ricks’ staff, the Parish Council and the company — includes linking water wells operated by the parish and the company so they can provide backup to each other.

That will save the parish the cost of drilling an additional water well, Ricks said.

Under the agreement, the company will read meters and provide other services to the parish’s water customers at Haynes Settlement and Bruce’s Harbor.

The parish will pay the company $5.25 per household each month for servicing its water and sewer customers and $1.50 a month for servicing its customers that only have sewer service with the parish, according to the agreement.