The Girard Community Sewer System, established in 2007, is a privately owned utility in Richland Parish, Louisiana.

Designed to support a rural population, it includes a pumping facility, treatment, storage, and collection infrastructure, and serves 63 residents across 25 connections. Managed by local developer Clarence Roy and his wife since its inception, the system processes approximately 0.004 million gallons of sewage daily and operates independently, unconnected to other wastewater utilities.

Recently, the system has faced several challenges such as rising operational costs, lack of regional growth, and aging management, which have threatened its sustainability. In response, Roy considered several options, including selling the system, donating it, or shutting it down— a move that would leave the community reliant on less desirable septic systems.

Seeking assistance, Roy contacted the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s (LDEQ) Office of Small Business. This led to a collaboration with Richard King, a Senior Environmental Management Consultant from Communities Unlimited (CU). Together, a scientist from LDEQ and King conducted a comprehensive review at the system’s office to devise a solution.

King recommended a rate study to evaluate the financial health of the system and the need for a rate increase. Over five months, CU staff developed a budget projection and a rate schedule intended to be equitable for all residents. The study not only confirmed the financial viability of the system with the proposed rate increases but also proved its potential attractiveness to buyers.

Initially hesitant due to concerns about the financial impact on residents, Roy was reassured by the rate study results. He expressed his appreciation to CU for the guidance received.

“This rate study gave me a good heads up on what I need to be charging on my monthly rates. Richard was a nice fellow. I like talking to him. He was a lot of help for us.”

— Clarence Roy, System Developer

King emphasized the broader community benefits: “This rate study will help keep this thing going because, without the sewer system, everyone would have to switch to a septic system. You don’t want to be on one if you can remain on a community sewer system. So, it will help the community out by staying on the centralized system.”

Staying on a centralized sewer system, like the one in Girard, offers several significant advantages over individual septic systems:

  • Environmental Protection: Centralized systems safely treat wastewater, helping prevent pollution of local water sources. In contrast, poorly maintained septic systems can fail and contaminate the environment.
  • Cost Efficiency: Although more costly upfront, centralized systems are generally less expensive to maintain over time due to efficiencies from large-scale operations.
  • Community Health: These systems treat sewage to high standards, effectively preventing waterborne diseases and protecting public health.
  • Development and Growth: Centralized systems facilitate community growth by allowing new homes and businesses to easily connect without needing individual septic systems.
  • Management and Compliance: Centralized systems are professionally managed and undergo regular inspections by environmental authorities to ensure they meet safety and health standards.
  • Land Use Efficiency: Centralized systems use less land compared to septic systems, freeing up space for other community uses.

CU’s rate study strategy ensures the financial sustainability of the Girard Community Sewer System, continuing its role in providing reliable services to the community.