C9: Confusion over funding available for defunct sewer system

PLATTENVILLE, LA (WAFB) - There is some relief for people dealing with an overflow of raw sewage in Assumption Parish.

The company in charge of their utilities went under, and even the hands of the parish were tied.

There seems to be confusion about the money available to fix the problem.

The sweltering heat is nothing compared to what people in Plattenville said they've been dealing with inside their own homes.

"The tub, the toilet starts backing up and we have to clean up the floors," Katherine Thompson said.

The scary images they cannot seem to erase from their minds after raw sewage flooded their houses less than two months ago. It's been a while since they've gotten a hard rain there but Katherine Thompson and her neighbor Doris Wiggins said it's a constant worry.

"Will we have a sewage backup. Will we have to evacuate. We don't know," Thompson said.

"We still uneasy every time we have a good rain," Wiggins said.

Assumption Parish President Marty Triche believes it is the result of Density Utilities improperly maintaining its pumping stations in every one of the eight to ten subdivisions it services in the parish. The lift station off Daggs Street is buried behind overgrown shrubs. But something has changed. The pump appeared to be working.

"I saw them down there a couple of times and I guess the light signifies the pump is working," Thompson said.

Triche said the State Department of Health and Hospitals has been staying on top of Density, making sure the now defunct company complies with orders to make repairs to its sewer system. But that's just a temporary fix. The company went under, and a permanent fix has yet to be found.

"We stand here ready and willing to do what we can but the issue is applying for public tax dollars to put on a private utility is something we are not allowed to do at this point," Triche said.

But Governor Bobby Jindal said those dollars are ready to go.

"The parish president has the ability to apply for CDBG dollars as well as DEQ dollars. Those dollars are available and if they need help access we are happy to provide that assistance," Jindal said.

Meanwhile, residents wait anxiously for the day they can again enjoy the simple things.

"To be able to take a bath and not worry about the tub overflowing because you can't let the water out," Thompson said.

"We are hoping and praying for that," Wiggins said.

Triche said an outside utility provider has expressed interest in taking over Density's system.

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