LIVINGSTON - If the ordinance's first meeting is any indication, it's going to take some time for the parish council to work through proposed changes to the way it handles it's sewer business.
Introduced by councilman Garry 'Frog' Talbert (District 2), the potential 'Livingston Parish Sewage Ordinance' took up the majority of the parish's ordinance committee meeting Thursday night - and they only made it through two sections.
For Talbert, that's of no surprise.
"This is going to take some time," Talbert said, "but it's important for a lot of reasons.
"Most importantly, it gives the parish some teeth to be aggressive in forcing compliance, and cleaner affluent in the ditches and canals will improve drainage."
Talbert said at the meeting that the parish is still working up a list of package plants that are not in compliance, but has been told that it's 'most of them.'
"Maybe not quite all," Talbert quipped.
Package plants are sewer treatment utilities which are put together for subdivisions which cannot be attached to current parish sewer lines. They are assembled by a specialty company, and then sold to the developer or a local company for maintenance and operation.
The first section of the new ordinance lists the purpose, which had seven points:
- To maintain and improve the quality of surface water and groundwater within the Parish
- To prevent the discharge of un-permitted waste waters within the Parish
- To prevent the discharge of wasterwaters that are not in compliance with applicable Parish, state, and federal standards to surface waters within the Parish
- To facilitate compliance with Parish, state, and federal standards, permits, and licenses by wastewater dischargers within the Parish
- To regulate public and private sewage works, sewage, and the collection, transportation, treatment, and disposal of sewage within the Parish
- To establish the legal authority to carry out inspection, surveillance, monitoring, and enforcement procedures necessary to ensure compliance with this division
- To eliminate, or reduce the adverse impact of sewage discharges to impaired water bodies within the parish
Jennifer Meyers, finance director for the parish, expressed concern as to the cost of enforcing compliance. The parish already has two sewer compliance employees that earn a salary.
The proposed ordinance, which was written with the help of engineer Eddie Aydell of Alvin Fairburn and Associates, would create a $5, quarterly franchise fee to be paid by the owner or operator of any treatment plant.
"We really need to inspect how much this will cost before we pass something," Meyers said.
According to Talbert, all costs will be considered before the final ordinance is passed, and the franchise fee will be updated to match those costs.
"Again, this is going to take some time," Talbert said in committee, "but we want it to be the best and most correct when we pass it."
While the fines and fees associated with the ordinance were not discussed Thursday night, Talbert did say that one potential consequence would be the absorption of the system by the parish, which it would then maintain and operate.