National Aquarius Award Presented to St. Bernard Parish Water Improvement Project

Louisiana Department of Health officials present the 2019 AQUARIUS Award to representatives of the St. Bernard Parish Waterworks Department. Pictured from left to right: Andrew Woodruff, Digital Engineering project engineer; Neal Belmonte, Digital Engineering project engineer; Dan MacDonald, LDH Program Engineer; Guy McInnis, St. Bernard Parish president; Donald Bourgeois, St. Bernard Parish capital projects supervisor; Matthew Falati, St. Bernard Parish director of public works; and Robert Delaune, Jr., Digital Engineering vice president.

 A waterline replacement project for St. Bernard Paris Waterworks, which received funding from the Louisiana Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, was recently awarded the 2019 AQUARIUS Award as a national project that utilized a high level of innovation to sustain and protect public health.

The $11 million project was one of only 10 in the nation to be recognized by the EPA as an “Exceptional Project.”  The project included the replacement of aged and deteriorated cast iron waterline segments, the addition of fire hydrants, valves, service lines, meters, fittings, and the replacement of asphalt pavement. The total length of waterlines replaced or added to the system was more than 61,000 feet.

The St. Bernard Parish Waterworks project was in response to three administrative orders between 2013 to 2014 regarding inadequate chlorine residuals and confirmation by the CDC that the system tested positive for the brain-eating amoeba, “Naegleria fowleri.”  In 2013, this amoeba caused the death of a four-year-old boy.  At the same time, the system was losing a large amount of water pumped – almost 43 percent – due to leaks in the cast iron mains.

“St. Bernard Parish Waterworks serves more than 43,000 residents.  The system now pumps less water and saves in energy costs,” according to the award recognition program.  

The 2019 AQUARIUS Award recognized a wide variety of project types, including lead service line replacement, state-of-the-art treatment technology, drinking water storage, and regionalization. These projects demonstrate leadership in emerging contaminants, innovative financing, water system partnerships, and/or affordability.

States participate in the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program were eligible to nominate a project.  Once states submitted projects, one particularly noteworthy project from each EPA Region was designated as an “Exceptional Project” to receive further recognition.  Louisiana won the award for Region 6.

The EPA selected 25 projects representing all 10 EPS Regions to be recognized during the awards ceremony – 10 as “Exceptional Projects” and 15 as “Recognized Projects.”

Drinking Water Revolving Loan Program Manager Joel McKenzie receives the 2019 AQUARIUS Award from Jennifer L. McLain, director of the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water.