New water tower along Hwy. 70 is fully operational

Staff reports
Marvin Gros, ACUD #1 attorney; Parish Councilman Kent Schexnaydre, Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez; Thomas Walter, board member; Curt Fordham, human resources manager with CF Industries; Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan; Parish Councilman Oliver Joseph; Harry Thibodaux, board member; Billy Barrient, board member; Kirk Delatte, board member; Glenn Shaheen with GSA, Inc. and Jennifer Meyer with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

Parish officials joined with Ascension Consolidated Utilities District #1 and the City of Donaldsonville on May 19 in cutting a ribbon signaling the operation of a new water tower located near Hwy. 70 and CF Industries.

 “By having the infrastructure in place, it gives the west bank a tremendous advantage as far as an economic development and new growth, and that’s something everybody contributed to,” said Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez. “The mayor, the city council, the parish council, everybody worked together and together moved the project forward.  My hats off to everyone involved including this board and I applaud them for a job well done.”

According to information supplied by ACUD #1, the 400,000 gallon, elevated water storage tower is part of Phase III improvements that ACUD #1 is implementing on the west side of Ascension Parish.

Parish Grants Officer Martha Collins said the parish secured $600,000 in funding for the water tower project. Of that total, the Environmental Protection Agency offered $275,000 in State and Tribal Assistance Grant money while the parish matched that number with $225,000 in funding for a 55 percent/45 percent match totaling $500,000.

Collins thanked Environmental Protection Agency Project Officer Gene Wossum and Louisiana Office of Community Development Director Carol Newton for their assistance in securing this funding for the project.

Collins said $100,000 was also secured through the Louisiana Community Water Enrichment Grant (CWEF).

ACUD #1 also secured $1,000,000 through the state Department of Health and Hospitals Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program (DWRLF). The DWRLF was established in 1997 in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 to provide low-interest loans and other assistance to public water systems in the state to assist them in complying with Federal and State drinking water regulations.

Jennifer Meyer, DHH’s program manager for the loan program, said $300,000 of the total would be principle forgiveness while the rest can be paid back as a loan at 3.45 percent interest. And because they were Build America Bonds, 35 percent of that total is eligible for rebate from the IRS.

Phase III consisted of installing water distribution lines in the area to the west of Donaldsonville bordering LA Hwy. 1 North, LA Hwy. 1 South and LA Hwy. 308. This includes the side roads and two Bayou Lafourche underwater crossings tying into the main lines along these roadways.

“What it means to Donaldsonville and the surrounding areas outside the city limits is adequate water pressure and adequate fire protection,” said Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan. “It gives us the ability to grow not only inside the city limits, but outside the city limits.  We have our industrial park, John Folse, and a new tenant coming in.  Now we are able to provide adequate water protection so they can make sure their building, their employees, and their investments are safe.”

The construction of a new water system began with the formation of the ACUD #1 in the early 1990’s because of the need for safe drinking water and fire protection water availability. The areas affected by these needs included the west bank of the Mississippi River outside of the Donaldsonville city limits. Residents who lived in Brusly, McCall and the Modeste areas were using well water.

Gros introduced Parish Councilman Oliver Joseph, who was a founding member of ACUD #1 and said Joseph championed the idea of quality water and adequate water pressure for all areas of the west Ascension Parish area.

“It started early one morning,” Joseph lamented. “We took a ride all around the west side. We said what we needed, what our vision was and we said we can make it happen.  The community came around. We passed taxes and land was generously donated. The community believed in the vision and for that belief, we are a better community. I also compliment this board, because they did an outstanding job.”

Phase I of the project included replacing Modeste water lines that had significant leaks.

This project was completed at a cost of $600,000.

Phase II of the project included the construction of the water storage tower and distribution lines to provide potable water to the Palo Alto and Brusly-McCall communities. Phase II cost approximately $1.75 million.

Between Phase II and Phase III, funding became available through an economic development grant to include running a distribution line at the Donaldsonville Industrial Park to handle the John Folse food processing facility. Phase III included the LA 70 and Palo Alto water towers totaling more than $2.2 million.

 The total investment for the projects came to $7,351,000 and affected approximately 1,100 customers.