Sewer program of Baton Rouge’s cost has doubled, years have passed and overflow continues

Promises made

In 2001, the United States and the State of Louisiana announced a civil settlement with the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. The settlement was intended to end the sewage overflows and violations of the Clean Water Act.

Under the agreement, the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish dedicated an improvement plan scheduled from 13 to 15 years to spend between $1.6 billion and $2 billion. The environmental projects were projected to benefit the citizens that live around those areas of sewage overflows. Residents of Baton Rouge even pay an additional $500 a year annually of sales taxes and sewer fees that progressively compound and increase by 4% every year for the Sanitary Sewer Overflow program which was scheduled to be done by December 2014.

What is sanitary sewer overflows? 

A sanitary sewer overflow a misleading term coined by the City’s consultant referring to untreated raw sewage in neighborhoods, city streets, ditches streams, playground, basements, and area around manholes. According to EPA, it found that (SSO’s) are caused by poorly designed or maintained  sewer systems which often have an adverse effect to the people that live near them.

Why Do Sewers Overflow and the dangers

All sewer systems are designed and expected to contain the wastewater that flows through them. However, if untreated sewage overflows routinely, it suggest a need for immediate attention and possibly, expansion of the system’s capacity.  Raw sewage may carry any number of health hazards, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa (parasitic organisms), helminths (intestinal worms), and borroughs (inhaled molds and fungi), according to the EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management. The need to properly address and decontaminate effected neighborhoods and roadways is vital to insure public health and well-being  in vulnerable communities. 

Progress to Date

These problems are not unique to East Baton Rouge Parish. Residents are raising awareness to the time that has passed and the issues still at hand. With the 2018 deadline for compliance to the Federal Sewage Consent Decree looming large, the solutions found here may set a precedent of correcting similar problems throughout this nation and around the world.

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