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$23 million in upgrades for East St. Tammany water system

"I personally don’t drink the water, 99 percent of the people on this neighborhood are on bottle water only," said Cross Gates resident David Binder.

SLIDELL, La. — Residents in East St. Tammany have been begging for improvements to their water system and Monday Parish President Mike Cooper announced the system will receive nearly $23 million in upgrades.  

Cross Gates resident David Binder has pushed for improvements to his neighborhood's water system for years. 

"I personally don’t drink the water, 99 percent of the people on this neighborhood are on bottle water only," Binder said.  

One of the most recent problems, according to Binder, came last April with a sewerage leak and drop in chlorine levels. 

"Some of them got severely sick," he said. "Some of them still have skin rashes, especially children." 

Parish President Mike Cooper announced Monday that a major, $22.8 million upgrade is being funded to improve the Cross Gates Water System which serves 8,100 people in Cross Gates, Meadow Lake, Ozone Pines, Southern Manor Mobile Home Park and Lazy Wheels Mobile Home Park.

"Today is a great day for Slidell," Cooper said. 

The project includes two new water towers, 30,000' of new water main, a 1,000 gallons per minute water well, two new permanent generators and remote monitoring technology for the Cross Gates Water Systems. 

"It will help with the quality of water, it will help provide fire protection," he said. 

Funding for the $22.8 million includes $15.7 million from the state through the Water Sector Program Grant Awards and $7.1 million from St. Tammany Parish. Both contributions are derived from American Rescue Plan Act funding.

"East. St. Tammany Parish in the past 40 years has grown tremendously, but often time infrastructure doesn’t keep up so this program, we've worked very hard to get the funding and know how to move these projects forward," State Rep. Bob Owen, (R) Slidell, said. 

According to Senator Sharon Hewitt, (R) District 1, the Louisiana Water Sector Commission recently approved funding for 87 projects statewide. The East St. Tammany Water Consolidation Project Phase One ranked four as a top priority. 

"It was viewed as one of the most critical projects to fund," Sen. Hewitt said. 

President Cooper guessed the project would take anywhere from 18 months to three years to complete. Meanwhile, he said the water is safe. 

"Yes it is. The water is tested by the Louisiana Dept. of Health on a regular basis and it's safe to drink. If it were not so, we would be notified by LDH," Cooper said. 

"Long term, the improvements will be dramatically helpful," Binder said. We would also like some help between now and that 18 month mark to get help because while the water may be technically in compliance by standards, compliance is not the same as drinkable water."

There is a second phase for this project that Sen. Hewitt expects to be funded in next year's budget. 

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