Wastewater Department Current Projects

City's Plans to Use Civil Penalty Fines for Private Property Repairs

As part of the Consent Decree settlement between the USEPA and the City, the City was fined $235,000 and required to pay the federal government and state government each $117,500 in restitution.  An appeal was made by the City of New Iberia to use those civil penalty funds solely for the repair, rehabilitation and replacement of defective customer service connection laterals (individual sewer service lines) within the local community.  The EPA rejected this request and the federal portion of the City’s fine, $117,500, was paid.  However, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and former Governor Blanco approved the use of the state’s civil penalty fines for repairing sewer service lines of low-income households within the City.

The City developed a plan to utilize the $117,500 of state civil penalty fines toward rehabilitating service lines located on the private properties of low-income households.  This program would remedy a significant portion of the City’s non-compliance with the Clean Water Act.  The City’s plan involved, (1) identifying leaks and illegal connections on private property which contribute to sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) within “high-priority” areas, (2) notification of property owners as to the existence of the leak and/or illegal connection, (3) determine if households meet low-income qualification criteria for financial assistance, and (4) initiation of required repairs. By following through with this program, the City is one step closer to achieving compliance with the provisions of its Consent Decree and the Clean Water Act.

Eligibility of households to receive financial assistance was based on total annual household income and the number of people residing in the home.  Income criteria utilized in determining eligibility is established annually by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Eligibility is confirmed by presenting records of household income to City officials.  Once eligibility is confirmed, sewer line defects on a property were repaired at no cost to the owner.  In the event a household did not meet eligibility requirements, then repairs must be paid for by the property owner as per City Ordinance Sec. 90-41.

The high priority area of interest included collection lines that feed into the B-14 pump station on Front Street.  Specific streets with properties discharging to the B-14 pump station included: Hortense Street, Johnson Alley, Rosier Street, Miller Lane, Helen Drive, Henry Street, Front Street and a portion of Indest Street.  The city’s consulting engineers in this matter, Domingue Szabo & Associates, determined that resolving the defective and illegal sewer service line defects on private properties in this area could save the City from having to spend an estimated $750,000 for a new “interceptor” pump station and forcemain to eliminate the sanitary sewer overflows sometimes occurring at the B-14 pump stations during heavy rains.

Once defects in the Front Street Area were repaired the City directed its efforts toward other areas of the City in which private property defects are noted.