In 2020, Ascension Sewer launched an informational campaign to highlight the importance of investing and improving our Parish’s sewer system. We recognize that for many people, sewer is one of those topics that is "out of sight, out of mind," but the effects of our aging sewer infrastructure are not. We see it every day, backups in our ditches and loud, hazardous treatment facilities next to our schools. Through "We Care" we hope to share our proposed plan for a consolidated sewer system, and we hope that you care too.
Under this conveyance and franchise agreement, customers of Ascension Parish would become customers of NWI. Customers of City of Gonzales, City of Sorrento, or those with individual septic tanks will not be impacted.
There will be minimal changes to sewer rates in the first year, keeping them at or below $50 and comparable to rates of nearby parishes. However, this consolidated system and small rate increase will eliminate the need to spend your tax dollars subsidizing other parish residents.
Sewer rates would be regulated by the Louisiana Public Service Commission which is the same regulatory framework that governs electric, water, gas, and communications utilities in Ascension Parish, as well as all parishes in the state. No increase in rates can occur unless approved by the Louisiana Public Service Commission. This regulatory structure is in place to ensure that customer rates are fair and proportional to the benefits received. Additionally, the consolidated system will be more efficient to operate and the addition of new customers will help to offset future rate increases, leading to more level and predictable rates over time.
On Feb. 11, the Parish Council unanimously approved a resolution that will appear on the ballot on April 24, 2021 seeking voter approval for transferring the parish’s sewer assets to National Water Infrastructure, LLC (NWI). The Parish has finalized negotiations on the terms of a conveyance and franchise agreement which, if approved by the voters, transfers parish-owned sewer treatment package plants, pipes on the east bank, excluding the corporate limits of the City of Gonzales and the Town of Sorrento, to NWI and obligates NWI to build and operate the new consolidated system.
Unfortunately, the Parish’s sewer system, that only serves around 2,000 residents, is outdated and doesn’t generate enough money to cover the cost of operation and maintenance. Currently, sales tax revenues are being spent to supplement the rates of these customers, instead of going to other critical improvements like roadways and drainage. Our plan to consolidate the system is a $200 million dollar investment we’re ready to make today, without asking the parish to pay for any of it or raising your taxes to do so.
Under this new agreement, residents with individual treatment systems would not be required to tie into the consolidated system. We hope you will choose to do so over time, and we look forward to working with you to keep our community safer and cleaner for a better tomorrow.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has declared Bayou Manchac an impaired water body, meaning it is too polluted and contaminated to meet water quality standards, and there are pending impairment declarations for Blind River and New River. This problem is only getting worse and reducing sewerage discharge into our water bodies is more important now than ever. A primary goal of implementing our consolidated sewer system is to remove over 3 million gallons per day of sewer effluent discharge from our rivers, bayous, and ditches by treating the sewage at the consolidated treatment plant and discharging the treated effluent into the Mississippi River.
We know that everyone is concerned with drainage, increasingly frequent flooding, and the amount of sewer sitting in our ditches. Heavy vegetation in the ditches, caused by the sitting sewer water, leads to unsightly and unsanitary backups, and costs Ascension Parish over $1 million a year to clear out. Through our consolidated sewer system, your sewer water would be treated and delivered to the Mississippi River quicker, significantly reducing vegetation growth, maintenance costs, and, ultimately, the amount of sewer sitting in your ditch.
Currently, some Ascension Parish residents are connected to the parish’s sewer treatment system, some are being served by private community systems, like those owned by NWI, and others have their own, individual treatment systems, like septic tanks. These different means of treatment aren’t the most effective, efficient, or environmentally responsible way to treat our parish’s wastewater – and the parish’s infrastructure is outdated. The Ascension Sewer team has developed a plan to consolidate treatment into one regional sewage system, which will be implemented in phases, and ultimately delivers treated effluent into the Mississippi River. This reduces flooding, sitting sewage in our ditches, and saves millions for the parish, among many other benefits.
View the different types of sewer systems in the illustrations below.
Ascension Sewer’s plan for a consolidated system is a commitment to investing over $200 million into Ascension Parish to build out Phase 1, or the backbone, of a consolidated sewer system. This includes laying pipes to connect neighborhoods across the northwest part of the parish to a state-of-the-art mechanical treatment plan located in the industrial area near the Mississippi River.