- Associated Press - Saturday, August 16, 2014

IOWA, La. (AP) - The town of Iowa is taking a step toward fixing problems with its sewer system but officials caution much must be done.

The American Press (http://bit.ly/1eOXZNb) reported the Town Council has received a $330,000 federal Community Development Block Grant to upgrade the John Dale lift station. The station is the main station in Iowa and serves an area south of U.S. Highway 90.

Mayor Carol Ponthieux said the upgrades include a larger motor and larger piping.

Ponthieux said the upgrade is a “Band-Aid approach,” and that the town eventually will have to borrow money to address sewer issues in other neighborhoods.

One major problem, she said, is the tendency for rainwater to get into clay sewer pipes that have cracked because of tree roots.

“We’ve just got a lot of water encroachment from the rains, and once those lines fill up, it’s gravity drained,” she said. “The pump stations push it to the next station, and it eventually daisy chains and gets to the sewer pond. It’s a problem that every municipality battles.”

Alan Weishampel lives on South Kinney Street near the Dale station. He said the main sewer line runs through his backyard, and as little as an inch of rain creates flooding problems.

Weishampel said the sewer system is out of date.

“Lift pumps are going to help, but not solve the problem ,” he said. “The answer is money. The question is how we’re going to get it.”

Town engineer Walt Jessen said the cost to fix all of Iowa’s sewer problems is probably “financially unattainable.” Before any money could be borrowed, Ponthieux said the town must come up with a coats estimate and a way to repay a loan.

Jean Simeon of the Louisiana Rural Water Association said the town’s flat wastewater treatment rate of $21.47 per month is well below the national average of $27 to $30.

Simeon said the Town Council should consider raising rates to collect money needed to fix the system.

“If you’re going to ask to borrow $3 million or $4 million, they need to know you’re going to repay it,” Simeon said.

Weishampel said he supports raising sewer rates.

“Let’s bite the bullet and get it done,” he said. “I just want to see it fixed. This is a problem of the whole town, not just our neighborhood.”

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Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com

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