LAFAYETTE — City-Parish President Joey Durel said Tuesday that Lafayette will immediately stop providing new water connections within the neighboring city of Broussard and he plans to eventually end a wholesale water agreement with the smaller city.
The move comes amid an ongoing feud between the administrations of the two cities, which have clashed over annexations in southern Lafayette Parish and over Broussard’s contract to buy water from Lafayette.
The administration of Broussard “has chosen to engage in an ongoing battle with the city of Lafayette, attempting to frustrate Lafayette’s growth and development in ways that are inconsistent with a mutually beneficial relationship,” Durel said, reading from a prepared statement at Tuesday’s City-Parish Council meeting.
The controversy over water connections began last year when officials with the city-owned Lafayette Utilities System said a bypassed wholesale meter had allowed Broussard to receive millions of gallons of water for free.
Broussard has its own water distribution system but buys some of its water wholesale from LUS and then, in turn, sells the water to Broussard residents and businesses.
Broussard paid a disputed LUS bill of $825,587 in December for five years worth of water but filed a lawsuit to recover at least $575,000 of the payment, arguing that LUS had overbilled.
Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais has said he does not know how the meter was bypassed and did not fight the bill, only the dollar amount.
Langlinais said in a telephone interview Tuesday evening that Broussard has a valid contract to receive wholesale water from LUS for at least another 20 years.
He said that contract calls for LUS to approve new water connections unless they are deemed “unreasonable.”
City-parish government has asked a judge to declare that Broussard has breached its water contract with LUS, and a favorable ruling could open the door for Lafayette to end water service to Broussard or to renegotiate the contract.
“I don’t see that happening,” Langlinais said.
Broussard has another lawsuit pending against Lafayette contesting the larger city’s annexation of about 220 acres along Ambassador Caffery, including land that Broussard had considered annexing.
“It’s an unnatural relationship we have,” Durel said.