A cooperative endeavor agreement between Ascension Parish and Ascension Sewer, a new company created by Baton Rouge-based private equity firm Bernhard Capital Partners, is nearing completion and should be presented to the Ascension Parish Council in early September.
The deal, if approved, would create a public-private partnership, under which the Bernhard company would develop a new sewer system for the rapidly growing parish and manage it for 30 years. The parish would continue to maintain ownership of the infrastructure and the customers.
Since the broad outlines of the plan were first announced in May, officials with Ascension Sewer and the parish have held a series of community meetings to discuss the proposal. A final meeting is scheduled for Aug. 15, according to Ascension Parish Infrastructure Division Director William Daniel, who says the final agreement should be ready to bring to the parish council by Sept. 5.
The deal would represent a new line of services for BCP, which has been aggressively growing its portfolio of companies in the industrial, energy and utilities sectors since its founding in 2013.
The Bernhard company will invest some $225 million developing the first phase of the system alone, which will consist of a new sewer treatment plant on the Mississippi River as well as the buildout of a network of sewer lines along state highways 73 and 42.
Phase one will serve more than 16,000 households in the northern part of Ascension Parish, though Ascension Sewer would ultimately provide service to the entire parish.
Once the deal is approved by the parish council, construction is expected to take 3-5 years, according to Daniel, who says the deal will effectively consolidate the splintered wastewater treatment delivery systems that has proven problematic for Ascension Parish and address long-simmering environmental issues.