ASCENSION PARISH, La. (BR Proud) — A resolution to transfer Ascension Parish’s sewer assets to a privately held company will appear on the April 24 ballot after Parish Council voted unanimously in favor of the deal Thursday night.
The franchise agreement is with National Water Infrastructure (NWI), and if approved by voters, transfers parish-owned sewer treatment package plants and pipes on the east bank, excluding the corporate limits of the City of Gonzalez and the Town of Sorrento, to NWI.
“My administration fully supports this sale of the parish’s sewer system because along with all of the financial benefits, this is our best chance to improve the environment and remove 3 million gallons of sewer effluent per day from our polluted waterways and ditches,” said Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment in a release.
NWI is owned by a Jim Bernhard-led private equity firm, according to records from the Secretary of State’s website. Bernhard Capital Partners Management bought the parish sewer company, Ascension Wastewater Treatment, for an undisclosed price in April.
The agreement commits NWI to make a $200 million investment to build a modern consolidated sewer system. In turn, freeing up nearly $13.5 million that the parish had dedicated to fund sewer construction.
NWI will pay an initial one-time cash payment of $9.26 million, the apparaised value of the sewer assets, according to the Parish. The final purchase price however, is subject to approval by the Public Service Commission.
The terms also state NWI will pay the parish a yearly fee of approximately $500,000, according to a release, a fee that could increase as new customers are added to the system.