BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Bossier leaders hope a new $45 million sewage plant, scheduled to open in 2015, will be the answer to old and outdated ways of treating waste in rural areas of the parish.
Where you see development in the Red Chute area of Bossier Parish, you'll likely find individually owned sewage plants and oxidation ponds. Since there isn't a community sewage line available, all developers and businesses must provide their own means of treating and disposing of waste. 33 of those plants exist along Highway 80, one even in front of an elementary school. The ponds are designed to treat the waste before unloading it, but parish leaders say the problem is most of the plants are outdated and near their breaking point.
In the Forest Hills subdivision, a large oxidation pond sits at the end of a cul-de-sac. One family explained to KSLA News 12, the pond was their first concern before moving in.
But just a street away, for Justin Dowty, the pond is out of sight, out of mind. "We basically don't even know it's there, unless we see it for ourselves," said Dowty and explained his family doesn't smell it, so it isn't a concern.
But not all oxidation ponds are as new as the one in Forest Hills, in fact Bossier Parish Engineer Butch Ford explained that many of plants are decades old and will soon need repair. He showed KSLA News 12 an older pond that sits just feet from two homes and smells badly of sewage.
"The public doesn't realize what's out here and living near those conditions is horrendous, I'd say," said Ford. All of the treated sewage from these systems goes into ditches and creeks. Not the best environmental option, according to Ford. "It's time for us to clean up, fix them, get rid of them, and pump the water into the Red River," said Ford and state and parish leaders, along with the Department of Environmental Quality agreed. That's why 10 years ago, they began plans to build a community sewer system for thousands of customers along Highway 80.
It would install 12 miles of piping to send the sewage to a treatment plant in central Bossier that would discharge it into the Red River. With all studies completed, funding obtained, and bids advertised, that plan is nearing reality, "This is the final leg in the 10 year process," said Ford.
Ford explained they've come up with the 45 million dollars necessary through 15 million in state funds from the capitol outlay program, a 12 million dollar low interest DEQ loan, and a 12 million dollar parish loan.
The customers are now paying the rest with higher rates. Their rates went up from on average $20.00 a month in sewer fees to $40.00 in fees about a year ago.
The police jury will vote on construction bids for the new sewer plant in October. Construction is expected to be completed at the beginning of 2015.
In the coming weeks, KSLA News 12 will investigate how the new plant will affect growth in that region of the parish.