Washington Heights gets more than $400,000 for sewage system repair

Published 12:01 am Friday, June 1, 2018


VIDALIA — After more than three years of fighting for funding, residents of the Washington Heights subdivision may soon see improvement in their failing septic system.

At Tuesday’s Concordia Parish Police Jury meeting, jury secretary treasurer Sandi Burley announced that the parish had acquired more than $400,000 in funding to repair the waste treatment system.

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In 2014, residents of the subdivision near Ferriday came to the police jury with a problem: The water treatment facility for the area had fallen into disrepair and the combination of raw sewage and poor drainage was causing problems.

Burley described the treatment facility as a “swimming pool full of old trees, roots, snakes and raw sewage.”

The problem, Burley said, was that the septic system was privately owned — the police jury could not help them.

“If it’s private property, we can’t touch it,” Burley said. “But we couldn’t just say no. These are parish residents.”

Over the next three years, the police jury applied for grants from a variety of agencies — from the Department of Environmental Quality to the Department of Health and Hospitals to an engineers without borders group.

“They needed help, what else could we do?” Burley said. “We got the community together and told them what we were trying to do.”

After several public meetings, dozens of grant application requests and a visit with residents and police jury members to Baton Rouge, however, Burley said finally received a phone call she had been waiting on.

“On April 3, the governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Troy Taylor called and told us we got the grant,” Burley said. “It was like Christmas in April.”

The Louisiana Community Development Block Grant Program provided the grant, contingent on the parish completing a binder full of tasks in the next five months.

Among the many, many tasks, Burley said, were soil samples, 10-, 20, and 30-year plans for the area and acquiring the land rights so that the water treatment system is no longer private property.

Once those steps are completed, and the LCBDG approves the parish’s submission, however, Burley said construction could begin.

Once completed, the parish will absorb the waste treatment site and will maintain the upkeep of the facility.

“The highlight really came when we called the residents there,” Burley said. “They fought so hard for this. It just shows how wonderful these people are.”