The Saint Joseph Water Crisis – Lessons Learned in the Age of Deteriorating Water Infrastructure

When:  Jun 26, 2019 from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM (ET)
The Town of Saint Joseph, Louisiana, is a town of approximately 1,050 persons located on the western bank of the Mississippi River in sparsely populated Tensas Parish, Louisiana. The town is located in an economically disadvantaged area, and 40% of the persons in the town live below the poverty line.

For years, the Town suffered with deteriorating water treatment and distribution infrastructure. The town’s source water is produced from the alluvial aquifer and as such is high in iron and manganese content. The high concentrations of iron and manganese in the source water provided significant challenges for treatment in terms of meeting secondary standards. This also contributed to a high corrosivity of the finished water.

The water crisis in St. Joseph lends many lessons related to the difficulties faced by small and large water systems in rural environments in our time. The project team dealt with technical and design challenges, construction challenges, funding constraints, time constraints, and regulatory constraints throughout the process. Through close teamwork and coordination between the owner, engineer, construction manager, contractors, state, local, and federal agencies, the water crisis ultimately became a major success for the stakeholders in the Town and provided a blueprint for addressing such crises in the future. Lessons learned in St. Joseph will be applicable on a small and large scale throughout the United States in the era of aging water infrastructure.

In this session, participants will be presented an overview of the state of the Town’s water system prior to and after construction, as well as an overview of the new treatment process and applicability to other aquifer systems. Additionally, participants will be presented with the lessons learned during the crisis, including regulatory involvement, use of multiple funding sources, early owner procurement of long lead time equipment, and alternate project delivery. Additionally, participants will be presented with an outlook of the future of small and large water systems as well as recommendations for the future of water systems.