Broussard sues LCG over water bill

by Heather Miller

The Advertiser reports that the city of Broussard has sued Lafayette for a refund and bad faith damages' related to the $825,000 water bill Broussard paid LUS last week.

A week after the city of Broussard made good on a more than $800,000 bill the Lafayette Utilities System says Broussard owes for using LUS water for the last five years at a meter in Broussard that was bypassed, Broussard has sued LCG to try and recoup $640,000 of that money plus interest and the cost of experts and attorneys Broussard's hired to prove Lafayette wrong.

The Advertiser reports on its website that the lawsuit was filed Wednesday afternoon and seeks "a refund and bad faith damages" in connection with the bill and subsequent payment Broussard made to Lafayette.

In 2005, Broussard requested an additional meter be placed near where Camelot, a retirement community, was set to be built on Albertson Parkway in southwest Broussard. But LUS Director Terry Huval says after the meter in question was installed, it was never put into service because the bypass valve had been turned on and water was flowing into southwest Broussard free of charge.

The discrepancy was discovered in November after Broussard requested an additional meter. LUS sells water to Broussard and several other Lafayette Parish communities and water districts through wholesale water contracts.

LUS Director Terry Huval tallied the $825,000 bill by calculating the free water Broussard has received at the meter location since water began flowing into Broussard at that location in February of 2006. But Broussard Mayor Charlie Langlinais, according to The Advertiser, says the city only owes roughly $160,000 because the meter serviced only one business during the first few years it was bypassed.

As The Independent pointed out in its Nov. 23 cover story, "Out of Line," Broussard residents and business owners serviced by the line in question have been paying the city of Broussard for their water usage - but Broussard wasn't paying LUS for the water.

Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel told The Ind in November that if LCG can prove Broussard officials are responsible for activating the bypass valve, the wholesale water contract between LUS and Broussard - which doesn't expire until 2038 - could be compromised.

Read more from The Independent on the Broussard-Lafayette water battle here.