$299,000 EPA Grant will Continue Water Quality Improvement Initiatives by St. Tammany Parish Government
Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, announced an EPA grant award in the amount of $299,000 for Parish Government to continue water quality initiatives within St. Tammany. This proactive project, which will include nearly 3,000 inspections, will include pollution source tracking for water quality restoration in the Bayou Liberty Watershed and homeowner education on proper maintenance of their on-site aerated treatment units. Parish Government continues to replicate this program throughout St. Tammany, with significant, measurable water quality improvements. In October of 2017, preliminary reports from the Ozone Woods neighborhood, where a similar initiative is underway, showed a nearly 400% improvement in biochemical oxygen demand, one of many indicators of water quality.
“As more individual units are repaired and the natural ecosystem stabilizes, we will continue to see the natural environment thrive. This is the result we hoped for and expected, as our water quality is paramount,” said Pat Brister, Parish President. “In the first subdivision we started this initiative, the failure rate of Aerated Treatment Units (ATUs) in the project areas, was close to 50 %. This number has been drastically reduced to 14% — so we are definitely moving in the right direction.”
St. Tammany Parish Government will partner with Southeastern Louisiana University on this upcoming project. There are thousands of individual ATUs and septic tanks installed in unincorporated St. Tammany, operated and maintained by homeowners. While these homeowner sewer systems are required to be permitted by the State Department of Health, many fail to meet current, more stringent design standards which could contribute to the decline of surface water quality in the Parish.
As part of these initiatives, and through a decentralized management approach, inspectors have been performing individual, on-site sewerage system inspections in areas of known impaired water quality since October of 2016 with special focus on areas of greatest known impairment.
Since October of 2016, inspections were started in the Bayou Liberty Watershed in Ozone Woods subdivision in Slidell and are now near completion. In the Abita River Watershed, inspections are underway in the Tammany Hills subdivision in the Covington area. In the Bayou Cane/Bayou Castine Watershed, DES recently completed inspections in the Hidden Pines subdivision in Mandeville and inspections are currently underway in areas of unincorporated Mandeville. As part of continued education and outreach, St. Tammany Parish today is hosting the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Enviroschool, to educate small commercial sewer systems owners on the most current standards required by the DEQ to operate these systems effectively, while being environmentally responsible.
Read more about our Water Quality initiatives here.