Police jurors get earful on sewerage inspection plans

Police jurors have been working for decades on how to get a handle on all the raw sewage that gets in roadside ditches and eventually into the rivers, bayous and lakes. Their inspection program to identify systems that don't work is a long time coming-- so they don't feel they are cramming it down the public's throat.  Said Police Juror Dennis Scott, "To be an armchair patriot instead of getting involved in it every time it comes up? That's when we can make a difference. Not when it's time to complain and say, 'I don't like this.'"

Many issues were raised including the cost.  Asked John Brooks of Bell City, "Have funds been set aside to assist the citizens who won't be able to afford the needed repairs?"

Some oppose inspectors going on people's property when they're not home.  Evette Sexton told them, "I don't want you coming on my property without my permission. I really don't. I don't care if you inspect my system. Don't come on my property without my permission."

Though people have other options as Police Juror Shannon Spell pointed out, "One is hiring somebody at your own expense. Two is making an appointment. So, we've established that those options are available."

Another issue-- does it creates a monopoly for the few that repair such systems.  Charlie Atherton thinks so.  "There is no cost control, there is no oversight. And they can charge what they want. There's no level of service, there's no guarantee. If you're unhappy with the work you go to court."

Some jurors would like to see people allowed to repair their own systems.  Said Police Juror Chris Landry, "These people are willing to fix it on their own, if they are, let's give them the opportunity to do that."

Though at least one contractor says that's a bad idea. General Contractor George Rivet used to install mechanical systems. "It's not rocket science but it's important. It needs to be done right."

And there are those who want pollution from sewage to stop.  Terry Mooney told jurors, "This comes down to one thing. I don't want the C-R-A-P rolling in front of my house. And right now, forty to fifty per cent of the people in my neighborhood have systems that are not working."

No doubt many issues will continue to be debated even after the inspection program gets underway.

The inspection program was to start next week. But parish officials say they'll put it on hold a short time while they check into whether state law allows homeowners to repair their own mechanical sewerage systems.

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