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Scenic view Tuesday, June 16, 2020 near BREC's Manchac Park of Bayou Manchac, which along with the lower Amite River are two ecologically damaged waterways in Ascension Parish due to sewer discharges.

Ascension Parish government officials will begin Tuesday to roll out their proposal to sell the parish's sewer assets to a local company owned by a Jim Bernhard-founded private equity firm.

Voter approval is needed for the sale of public assets, and the measure will be on the parishwide ballot April 24.

Ascension would sell its package plants, force mains, trunk lines, land and other assets to the company, National Water Infrastructure, for $9.26 million and, in doing so, also save the parish $3 million a year spent subsidizing a collection of localized neighborhood systems.

National Water, which is owned by Bernhard Capital Partners Management, would ink a 20-year, non-exclusive franchise agreement with the parish and pay an annual franchise fee that will escalate as new customers are added, but start at $500,000, parish officials said.

Parish officials plan the first of a four public meetings 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Lowery Middle School gym on La. 1 South in Donaldsonville.

Subsequent meetings are planned at the following locations at 6 p.m.:

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  • Prairieville Middle School gym — Monday, March 22.
  • St. Amant Middle School gym — Wednesday, April 7.
  • Dutchtown Middle School — Monday, April 19.

National Water, which is the successor to and partly owned by longtime local sewer provider Ascension Wastewater Treatment, will spend $200 million on a new regional treatment plant. The new plant would consolidate now-scattered neighborhood sewage treatment systems and reroute the treated wastewater to the Mississippi River.

The initial joining of the parish and National Water systems would total 19,000 customers in unincorporated eastern Ascension.

The agreement would not affect western Ascension Parish, but only apply to parts of the unincorporated east bank outside the municipalities of Gonzales and Sorrento.

The deal also would not affect people with individual home treatment system, parish and National Water officials have said.


Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.