City provides DEQ wastewater plant details

Responding to its request, Mayor Bob Morris has provided the Department of Environmental Quality a detailed schedule of upgrades to the Eunice Wastewater Plant.

DEQ in mid-summer issued a cease-and-desist order to the city regarding unacceptable effluents from the plant. The city responded with a plan of remedial action and DEQ on Oct. 9 asked for an update.

Morris said he began the response the following day, completing and mailing it on Oct. 15

Completed, current and anticipated work will total close to $1 million, the mayor’s letter indicates and he assures DEQ the upgrades will be done.

“Both myself, and the City Council, except for one obstructionist, are determined to get our Wastewater plan back up and operating appropriately. I have two years left in office and it (is) my goal to have all deferred maintenance and gross negligence at the Wastewater plant eliminated,” Morris wrote DEQ’s Christine Mayeux.

Morris has previously claimed the plant has been the subject of maltreatment and hijinks.

He asked DEQ in July for an investigation and in his letter this month repeated his concerns and charges.

“As stated previously, our Wastewater Plant has been the victim of severe neglect, abuse and lack of appropriate maintenance for what appears to be the last 20 years,” he said.

His letter, provided during The Eunice News’ first interview with the mayor in several weeks, is a step-by-step narrative of work at the wastewater facility.

It notes that the latest contract, about $414,000 to repair the air diffuser system was awarded at this month’s City Council meeting.

Alderwoman Chawana Fontenot recused herself from that vote because, she said, neither she nor the council had been given any particulars of the plan for the facility’s upgrade.

Morris’ letter to DEQ essentially provides such particulars.

He tells DEQ that the diffuser repairs may not be completed until next October because of the time involved in fabricating the parts and a possibly delay due to winter weather.

The next anticipated major purchase is an emergency generator. The city has received one quote, for about $132,000, for that.

Previous major costs have included mixers and valves, $217,000; lab control panel, $23,000; and pumps, $53,000.

On Oct. 1, Morris signed an agreement with state Block Grant officials for the city to make an initial payment of $50,000 and to make 21 monthly payments of $724.50 to close a 2003 grant for plant repairs.

Morris noted in his letter that he still thinks the city should have taken legal action in what terms that fiasco. The council elected to repay the outstanding amount in order to remain eligible for future counts rather than wait for a protracted legal action to end.

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