COTTON VALLEY – The Town of Cotton Valley failed its wastewater treatment plant inspections and is in violation of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
Mayor Joseph Alexander said the wastewater treatment plant has been in need of major repairs for years now, and the town was nearly fined for its failure to correct the issues.
“It’s not working like it should,” he said. “The biggest problem is it’s causing us not to pass inspection with the state. It’s been like this for years.”
As late as 2016, the date of the last review, DEQ officials say the town is still failing to comply with regulations. In a compliance order, it lists the town’s repeated failure to comply with its permit.
“Specifically, the Respondent [sic] failed to submit monthly Discharge Monitoring Reports for the following periods: October 2013, September 2014 through January 2015, and November 2015 through March 2016,” according to the compliance order.
Each municipality must submit samples from wastewater treatment plants for certain waste, such as fecal coliform, organics (biochemical oxygen demand), and Total Suspended Solids.
Since 2010, the town has been in violation in one form or another, either for test samples that were above the permitted limit, or because samples weren’t submitted timely or at all, Alexander said.
“The problem was, it was never maintained correctly,” he said. “Our public works supervisor has been doing the best he could with what he had. We got it straightened out; the samples come straight to me, and I make sure the paperwork gets sent out.”
The DEQ has given them 30 days to develop a plan and take steps toward compliance.
“The Respondent [sic] was ordered to prepare, implement and submit a plan to manage solids accumulated during the treatment process,” according to the compliance order, “prepare and submit a progress report associated with the upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant; submit discharge monitoring reports and submit a written report.”
The town is researching avenues to get the funding needed to make the necessary upgrades.
“We’re looking at some grants right now to correct that problem,” he said. “We’re trying to fix it within the next six months. My superintendent is telling me that it’s on its last leg and could break down at any time.”
Alexander said they are applying for a community development block grant to start repairs. If that falls through, then they may have to look into taking out a loan.
The cost of total repair is approximately $2.2 million, but to replace it, it’s about $5 million.