LAFAYETTE – Broussard's contract to buy water from Lafayette's city-owned utility system could be in jeopardy in an ongoing dispute over whether the smaller city is paying for all the water it is using. The controversy between Lafayette Utilities System and Broussard began last year when LUS officials said a bypassed wholesale meter had allowed Broussard to receive millions of gallons of water for free. 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 over billed. LUS Director Terry Huval now says that in the months since the discovery of the bypassed meter, LUS has found other questionable connections.
LUS May End Broussard Contract
LUS billed Broussard last November for over $800,000 in unpaid water usage. Broussard paid that bill. But they, fired back with a lawsuit claiming they were overcharged. Because of all the disparities Lafayette Utilities System is looking to end their water supplying contract with the city of Broussard.
LUS wants out for a number of reasons, and they're turning to the courts for help. A lawsuit filed on behalf of LUS claims a breach of contract with the city of Broussard.
LUS claims they discovered Broussard had connected a water line to Lafayette's water system without their consent. This prompted LUS to investigate, they found automatic reading devices, that did *not* belong to LUS were installed on LUS meters.
LUS says the tampered meters were inaccurate and it was that instance that led LUS to bill the city of Broussard $825,000 for 5 years of unpaid water usage.
Broussard paid the amount, but then filed suit claiming they were overcharged. After further investigation LUS discovered Broussard had replaced three meters without their consent. These are all the reasons behind LUS filing suit to break their business contract.
“I'm not saying there was any malicious intent or that anything was done on purpose here, but the fact of the matter is we have never had a situation like this with a whole sale customer and we've been supplying wholesale water to other parishes since the 1980s.” says LUS Director Terry Huval.
So where will Broussard get its water? We made several attempts to get an answer to that from Broussard's Mayor Charles Langlinais on the phone and in person.
But each time we were told he was unavailable. Terry Huval says in the meantime LUS will still service Broussard residents and business with water until other arrangements can be made.