BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Residents along Highway 80 in the Haughton area of Bossier Parish are about two months out from being connected to a state-of-the-art parish-wide sewer system.
Bossier Parish leaders hope the system, which has been 10 years in the making, will be the answer to the outdated ways of treating waste in the rural areas.
Neighbors in the Forest Hills neighborhood off of Highway 80 like Rodney Wise are looking forward to the changes.
When Wise first moved into his home near Haughton in July, he was slapped with a smell that filled the neighborhood.
"Very raw foul sewage," he said, explaining the stench.
The smell was coming from the neighborhood's oxidation pond, which treats waste water. Bossier Parish Engineer Butch Ford, explained the parish acquired all area sewer plants ahead of the opening of a parish-wide sewer system.
According to Ford, the overwhelming stench was due to a broken piece of equipment called an "Aerator" causing the smell.
Wise's neighbor, Tempest Bryan, was surprised to discover the body of water in the back of the subdivision is where the neighborhood sewage goes.
"I was never told that when I moved here," she said.
Bryan says if the wind is blowing in just the right direction, they can all still smell it, even with the parish's equipment now fixed.
"The fact that it would smell like that, it's unbelievable, because you wouldn't expect that in a nice neighborhood like this," she said.
Neighbors also say they're troubled by the site of trucks dumping sewage sludge into the water. Parish leaders say the dumping was temporary while a system serving another neighborhood had issues.
"Why are they putting other people's sewage into our pond? It was definitely a shock," said Wise.
Parish leaders admit they have had some problems with the Forest Hills oxidation pond but say the good news is neighbors will only have to deal with it for another couple of months.
The last sewer lines in the area are being buried to pump sewage from neighborhoods like Forest Hills in the Haughton area to the state of the art $55 million waste water treatment plant in North Bossier.
Once the plant opens, oxidation ponds along Highway 80 will be a thing of the past, something Wise is looking forward to.
"Maybe it will smell a lot better and be better for the environment," he said.
Once the plant switches on for the Red Chute-Haugton area, it will serve about 4,500 customers along Highway 80.
North Bossier area is expected to join the system by the summer of next year and serve 1,000 customers. The total cost of the project was initially $45 million, but that only included the Red Chute area. Once North Bossier was added in, the price rose to $55 million.
Funding for the project is a split of state funds from the capital outlay program, a low interest DEQ loan and a parish loan. According to Ford, customers of the future sewer plant are also paying for the project, their sewer bills increased 3 years ago from $25 a month to $40-$50 a month.