News Briefs: Louisiana Utility Accused of Bullying Homeowners, Falsifying Reports

Also in this week's sewer and water news, a Minnesota representative calls on the government to allocate more money for water infrastructure; and a Pennsylvania town's water mandate has citizens ready to migrate elsewhere

A utility out of a New Orleans-area neighborhood has faced serious criticism over the past two years for alleged sewage in yards, uncontrolled chlorination levels, boil-water notices and a discharge near a school that may not have been cleaned up properly. But now, a crisis is brewing.

Representatives from two homeowner groups in Slidell, Louisiana, are accusing Tammany Utilities of falsifying reports, bullying homeowners and employing operators who don’t have proper certification.

“This has been going on for so long, uncorrected, that the residents around the lift station have refused to pay their Homeowner’s Association dues because they live in a sewer dump,” Turtle Creek neighborhood representative Neil Waguespack told the council, according to

Councilman Jerry Binder said there is a “tremendous lack of responsibility in Tammany Utilities East," according to the article. “This is unacceptable. If the people involved can’t solve the credibility problem, we need to get somebody else.”

Meanwhile, the bullying claims stem from a letter sent by utility leadership that accuses the unhappy homeowners of breaking, modifying or tampering with sewer pipes. The letter informed them they had 30 days to fix it before their water would be shut off and they would be fined daily.

Referencing the fourth anniversary of the Flint Water Crisis, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota recently called on the federal government to commit to removing lead pipes and making sure everyone in the United States has access to clean, affordable water.

The legislation he’s proposing is titled The Water Affordability, Transparence, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act, and it would create a trust fund by walking back the Trump Administration’s corporate tax cuts, providing $35 billion per year for water infrastructure.

“It would allow our communities to renovate aging water systems, remove lead pipes, stop sewage spills in waterways and backups into basements, improve rural households’ water wells and septic systems, and provide safe water in schools,” Ellison wrote.

He added that the EPA recently released a survey showing that the nation’s drinking water systems need somewhere in the ballpark of half a trillion dollars over the next two decades to provide water to U.S. citizens.

Hundreds of people signed a petition in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in and effort to change a sewer rule requiring homeowners to pressure-test and replace sewer pipes running through their buildings.

The problem is that most of the people in the city can’t afford to do it, city councilwoman Charlene Stanton tells WTAJ News. “You drive through Johnstown and you see blue tarps on people’s roofs because they can not afford to put a roof on their home. Their roof leaks, but yet the city is telling them to spend $5,000 to $10,000 dollars on new sewage lines.”

Those who don’t pay for new lines will be subject to a $600-per-day fine, according to the mandate. Stanton is worried people might start migrating out of the city if the mandate isn’t walked back. “If the project continues I believe this is the final nail in the coffin for the city of Johnstown,” she tells WTAJ News.


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