The top brass in Lafayette Consolidated Government and Lafayette Utilities System put aside their political grievances Wednesday as then-Hurricane Isaac began to antagonize the area with wind and rain and helped the city of Broussard when it found itself in a pinch.
Broussard’s water plant supervisor contacted LUS at about 5 p.m. Wednesday to report that Broussard’s back-up generator for its water plant had gone down; earlier that day, around 10 a.m., the Entergy power supply for the plant had malfunctioned and Broussard was relying on its back-up generator to keep water pressure up.
According to LUS Director Terry Huval, had Broussard’s water pressure fallen to a low-enough level the city likely would have had to issue a boil advisory — if Broussard residents had any water at all. Broussard asked LUS for permission to open an inter-tie valve to release more LUS water into the Broussard system. LUS complied and sent an employee to supervise the opening of the valve. Entergy’s power supply to the plant was back up around 10:30 a.m. Thursday at which time LUS closed the valve off.
“Broussard is now operating as they were prior to the storm,” Huval says. “We did step up to the plate to assist them; there was no question this is what we needed to do because this is because of public health.”
Broussard has a wholesale water contract with LUS and gets much of its own municipal water supply via LUS. But that wholesale agreement was jeopardized last year when it was discovered that Broussard had been bypassing an LUS meter and pumping additional — tens of thousands of gallons as a matter of fact — LUS water into Broussard for free. The discovery led to LUS hitting Broussard with a bill for more than $800,000, a bill Broussard ultimately paid but is disputing in court.
Coupled with lawsuits Broussard has filed against the city of Lafayette over annexations in south Lafayette Parish, the relationship between Broussard and LCG has been strained, to put it charitably. City-Parish President Joey Durel says he was contacted Wednesday over the potential water crisis in Broussard and didn’t think twice about helping. “Regardless of the perception of politics, we would never put people in any kind of harm’s way who we could help,” Durel says.
Surprisingly, not, Broussard Mayor Charlie Langlinais didn’t issue a press release thanking LUS for its help. But Broussard spokeswoman Amy Jones says officials there did reach out to LUS privately to thank the utility for its help.
Now can we all just sing “Kumbaya” already?
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