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Bossier City set to rehab sewer

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Sewer lines may be out of sight but they are not out of the minds of Bossier City officials.

City Council is poised to approve two-pronged financing for what ultimately would be miles and miles of sewer line rehabilitation or replacement involving tens of millions of dollars over a period of several years. Approval could come as soon as Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting.

Public Works Director Don Williams said a proposed ordinance authorizing $10 million in utility revenue bonds would be used for an anticipated $10 million low-interest loan from the state of Louisiana for sewer improvement.

“A lot of cities are wanting these loans, and there’s only so much money, so there’s some competition,” Williams said. “Some cities don’t have a list for their project. We already do so we’re looking for a $10 million low-interest loan this year and maybe another $20 million next year.”

In tandem with that, City Council votes Tuesday on developing a project of improvements to the waterworks plant and sewer utility system that could result in issuance of up to $42 million in principal amount of utility revenue bonds in one or more series.

Revenue bonds are a financing mechanism that uses revenue from the associated project – such as sewer utility fees – to pay off the debt. Sale of bonds allows projects to be performed much sooner rather than on a pay-as-you-go basis, which over time involves rising labor and materials cost.

Williams said a key advantage of addressing the aging lines issue head-on is avoiding greatly deteriorating lines that could result in expensive fines from the Department of Environmental Quality.

City public information officer Mark Natale said there are approximately 71 miles of sewer force mains and approximately 269 miles of gravity sewer lines within the Bossier City collection system.

For the city’s Public Utility Department, addressing infrastructure failure is an ongoing activity.

The large-scale work involving bond proceeds will get underway once the monies are in place and once current planning operations have reached a point that the most effective strategy can be applied to address the problem. Officials anticipate that to happen within the next three to six months.

Natale said the Public Works Department has completed flow monitoring throughout the system and is currently developing a hydraulic model of the collection system.

The city is also planning a Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Study to assess areas of the collection system with the most need for rehab or replacing. Projects will be evaluated on the most effective type of remediation or replacement.

Based on the SSES and studies done by the Public Works Department, the city will develop a plan to address the needs within available funding levels.

Natale said the first project involving funds from bond proceeds could commence within three to six months, with other projects kicking in within the following six to 12 months.

Natale said the city would pay approximately $3 million per year for the length of the bonds, which would be 20-30 years.

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