Police jury committee tackles home sewerage inspection issue

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -More than 30,000 homes in Calcasieu Parish have their own individual sewerage systems.  But many don't work and that causes all kinds of environmental issues..

Tonight a police jury committee looked at possible ways to address the problem.  But any plan  is sure to take years.

In the rural areas, where many individual home sewerage systems don't work, it means pollution in neighborhoods that ultimately winds up in bayous, lakes and rivers. But fixing a sewerage system that doesn't work isn't always a high priority with homeowners.  Explains Administrator Mark McMurry, " Your air conditioner goes out in your house you're going to get it fixed. If your hot water heater goes out and you can't take a shower you're going to get it fixed. IF your sewer system isn't working right, you're flushing and it's leaving the house, and it's really maybe effecting the people down the street."

The police jury wastewater committee is looking at ideas for St arting a program to inspect the 33,000 home sewerage systems scattered throughout the parish. They estimate it would take three years.  Now they just respond to complaints.  One issue is how to pay for the program and whether to use parish inspectors or the private sector.  And what happens if a homeowner's system needs expensive repairs or even needs to be replaced. Parish Planner Jim Vickers says, "If the parts are not available,  can it be retro fitted with maybe some existing parts? I think there are some options there. Undoubtedly there are going to be some systems that are going to be out there that are not going to meet today's standards. There's no question."

There are no simple answers but officials say it will require personal responsibility for citizens. Says assistant administrator Bryan Beam, "We need feedback on the concept of doing some initial inspections, hopefully getting these systems fixed, but then having something in place where the homeowner has some responsibility to just keep their system up."

It's estimated if parish inspetors are used the program would cost up to $1.1 million over three years.

The jury met tonight instead of Thursday as usual because the Louisiana Police Jury convention starts Thursday. It's in Lake Charles this year.

Also tonight jurors had a special meeting during which they met in closed door executive session to finalize the employment contract with Bryan Beam. Beam will become the new parish administrator when Mark McMurry retires.

Jurors unaimously approved the three year contract which begins April 1.  Beam told jurors he looks forward to serving as administrator.

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