Baton Rouge Stormwater System Receiving Costly Fix

Frequent sewer overflows have been plaguing Baton Rouge, La., and its surrounding suburbs for years.

Now, city-parish officials have come up with a $618 million cure designed to satisify a federal court lawsuit consent decree signed between the city-parish and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Advocate reported.

Invariably, the high price will be passed on to consumers. The current average fee of $29.68 will jump to around $44 by 2013, The Advocate reported.

Since 2002, 26.5 million gallons of sewage have spilled from the system during overflow events. Seventy percent of this overflow was caused by rainfall.

The $618 million upgrade of the parish's sewerage system will take eight years to complete. That upgrade should make overflows more uncommon, compared to what is now nearly a weekly event, The Advocate reported.

The new system will be designed to handle a 4.5-inch rainfall in a 12-hour period. While that's a lot of capacity, at times rainfall will still exceed that amount, and overflows will continue -- just less frequently, Parish Public Works Director Fred Raiford told The Advocate.

So, why not make it bigger? Designing a system to handle a greater rainfall would be cost-prohibitive, said William McHie, vice president of MWH Americas. MWH is the Department of Public Works' consultant helping with the sewerage upgrade project.

The Advocate

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