For five and a half years, the Diocese of Ascension has taken over water production and supply for the residents of Donaldsonville and the West Bank, a work in progress. The integration of the two systems, Elevate Parish Utilities (PUA) and Ascension Integrated Utilities District (ACUD) number 1, has yet to materialize, but the diocese seems committed to making the most of it. With nearly 11 million gallons of water “unaccounted for” by 2022, the utility’s total water loss rate of 8.58 percent is significantly better than the national average, according to March 24 data from Assistant Utilities Superintendent Gavin Fleming.
That was the first time the Parish Council Utilities Committee met in Donaldsonville, we can recall, because Ascension was divesting its East Shore utility’s “sewerage assets.”
“We’re finding loopholes,” Fleming admitted. “But we’re working on fixing them.”
The site of the worst water loss on the West Bank is PUA, formerly known as the People’s Water Company, which the parish acquired in September 2016. The company has been in business for nearly a century, and the pipes have been in the ground for about as long. “Age is the most important factor” in PUA water loss was determined to be 5.63% of all water produced, while ACUD #1 lost only 0.78%. With 10,980,000 gallons of “unaccounted for” water, the total water loss is 8.58%.
According to EPA.gov: “National studies show that, on average, 14 percent of the water treated in water systems is lost through leaks…some systems report a loss of 60 percent.”
The parish has no water production capacity east of the Mississippi River to treat sewage and is nicknamed the Ascension Integrated Utilities District #2, a failed proposal ($4 million a year, according to President Clint Curtin’s government’s advocacy of the sale of “assets” to the nation’s water infrastructure). Voters approved the sale in April 2021, but NWI does not yet own dozens of packaging plants and other facilities. NWI still has not filed the necessary paperwork to assume the “assets” of the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
Ascension program manager Bill Dawson said the NWI application is about to be submitted and the asset transfer will eventually be completed in exchange for $9 million. During this period, Ascension is paying NWI to operate the parish’s east shore plants, two of which have encountered compliance issues. NWI has a plan to address the Oak Grove deficiencies and will “completely redo the plant” to serve the Belle Savanne Subdivision, “and add another plant with higher levels of aeration and tertiary treatment to meet compliance requirements. standard.”
Meanwhile, Dawson was busy with banking.
Some help is on the way, as SJB Group’s Wilfred Barry will “assess water systems…meters, and their performance in billing and collection systems.” When the Peoples Water Company was acquired for $5.9 million in September 2016, the inability to accurately calculate consumer usage and corresponding bills created considerable anxiety for utilities and elected officials.
along with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers On board, all 3,500 West Coast water meters will be replaced by Neptune (electronic readout) water meters. According to Bill Dawson ACUD #1 (outside Donaldsonville), 750 meters have been upgraded and about 260 meters have been replaced. The remaining 2,500 were to hire Wilfred Barry to ensure accuracy.
The West Bank system also needs to upgrade the physical infrastructure, especially the pipeline.
To that end, the utility is proposing that the previously awarded $5 million be used to upgrade the Hilaryville (Darrow by Darrow on the east bank) sewer to the west bank. According to Assistant Utilities Supervisor Carl Ladmirault, the expected jobs are “outdated because we’re getting out of the sewer business.”He suggested to Corps of Engineers For “pipe replacement for redistribution of old people’s water supply lines”.
There is no doubt that this work is in progress, but significant progress is being made.