Ascension officials dismayed, but not deterred, by sewer study _lowres

Advocate file graphic -- Image depicts earlier Ascension Parish plans for the start of a regional sewer system in Prairieville that was to be tied with state highway expansion along La. 73 and La. 42 over the past four years. Since then, the parish installed major sewer lines under the highways and hooked up nearby homes and businesses. Under a proposed contract now being considered, Ascension Wastewater Treatment will treat sewer effluent along the La. 73 corridor.  

The proposed location of the central treatment plant for a future Ascension Parish sewer system has raised concerns among the Geismar residents who would be its neighbors one day.

Parish Councilman Travis Turner said Friday that residents in his council district, which includes Geismar and the proposed plant site, are telling him they are opposed to the site and are concerned about odors from the treatment facility.

Turner said he has received 25 calls about the sewer plant site just last week.

“I haven’t had one call saying they are all for it yet,” he said.

Turner has called a community meeting 7 p.m. Monday at First Pilgrim Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, 11453 La. 73, Geismar.

He said several other council members are expected to attend the meeting, as well as state Rep. Ed Price, D-Gonzales, and state Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville.

Earlier this month, the Parish Council authorized parish government’s attorney to enter into final negotiations to buy 10 acres inside a large industrial park owned by New Roads landowner L.J. Grezaffi near the intersection of La. 73 and La. 30.

The location, which appraised for about $87,000 per acre and is northeast of the intersection, is near the Mississippi River, the treated wastewater discharge point for the future regional system.

The treatment plant would be a central cog in the system that parish officials want to build with a $60 million low-interest loan through the state Department of Environmental Quality Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The parish also is spending $10 million on its own on sewer trunk lines required for state highway expansions of La. 42 and La. 73.

The system’s initial service area would rely on those trunk lines to serve customers along La. 42, La. 73 and Airline Highway in Prairieville.

But parish officials have been looking for a treatment point close to the Mississippi where effluent will end up being discharged.

The parish is planning the system under regulatory pressure to consolidate an array of private systems that discharge sometimes poorly treated wastewater into small, overtaxed bayous on the north end of the parish. Part of the parish’s solution has been aimed at treating waste with a bigger, modern plant and then getting the treated effluent into the much larger river.

Statements from parish officials in meetings earlier this month left the exact site within the industrial park unclear, though Parish President Tommy Martinez has said the site would have a road built to it and access to La. 73.

Councilman Benny Johnson, chairman of the Council Utilities Committee, said Friday the site is behind businesses along the east side of La. 73 about 200 yards northeast of the La. 73/La. 30 intersection.

Turner said Geismar residents with whom he spoke would like to see the plant built farther from their homes and closer to the river, between La. 30 and the Mississippi.

Johnson said parish officials want a location in that area also but have been unable to find one.

He raised the possibility of shifting the site deeper within the industrial park and farther from homes but noted that would raise the cost of pipe and other infrastructure.

“We’ll just have to see what we can do to try meet their concerns, and we’ll go forward from there,” Johnson said.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.