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Bossier City racing to replace aging water and sewer system - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Bossier City racing to replace aging water and sewer system

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(Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS) (Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS)
(Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS) (Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS)
(Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS) (Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS)
BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTBS) -

mThe area of Bossier City dates back to the 1830's, and though the water and sewer system isn't quite that old, it's time for replacement.

"We pay some money now to make repairs as needed over the coming years so that we don't fall behind."

City spokesperson Mark Natale says a survey of the city's infrastructure was conducted last year, which resulted in an increase in water and sewer rates for residents.

That's because work on the aging system must be done - and done soon.

"Stay head of the curve. We realized that the infrastructure is aging and it was really no secret but to what extent we had to find out."

More than 700 miles of water and sewer pipe runs underneath the ground in Bossier City.

Much of it dates back over 50 years, a lot of it made from the old cast iron material that severely corrodes over time.

Those pipes are now being replaced across the city with more modern PVC pipe, which is cheaper and easier to replace during main breaks.

But with a system serving nearly 23,000 people, the city can't afford to wait around and see if the pipes hold up.

"So that we don't fall behind and fall below compliance with federal regulations, so that the EPA won't step in and run the system and then fine Bossier City," Natale says.

To make that happen, residents' flat rates went from $15 to $30 at the beginning of the year, and that was on top of $8 dollars already tacked on for new trash service.

But the alternative comes with a much higher price tag, with the possibility of thousands in fines from the EPA under the Clean Water Act.

"What we're doing initially now is we're looking at an investment of about $70 million, $72 million. Most of that will be bond money."

Natale says the city is hoping the bulk of that money will come in the form of a low-interest DEQ loan, ideally below one percent interest.

The rest will come from cash-on-hand already in the utilities fund, which is revenue generated from residents bills.

"We're just hoping that the citizens understand that this is the approach that the administration and the city has to take.

No matter what, the band-aid approach is no longer enough.

Case-in-point, Natale points out the line on Benton Road that ruptured more than a dozen times in a matter of three weeks earlier this year.

"It got to the point where the line was failing. They fixed the line, charged the line up again, the water pressure hit another weak spot and it blows it out."

While that was was one of the city's older, larger lines Natale says it's a sign of things to come if the city doesn't act fast.

"There are some lines out there that we know are in pretty bad shape and they're on the list to get replaced."

He says a good indicator of a water main's stability is it's record of failure.

Those lines take top priority in the replacement process, which will take place over the course of several years.

Other lines may be up for rehabilitation based on their age and size.

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