Monday, July 17, 2017

Lake Charles Regional Airport (KLCH) $1 million project improves sewer and reduces wildlife


The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded the Lake Charles Regional Airport $1.04 million in an effort to help reduce wildlife hazards at the airport by improving sewer infrastructure. Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA) announced the news on Friday, July 14.

"Wastewater treatment is not the sexiest project," said Heath Allen, executive director of the Lake Charles Regional Airport. "It's obviously something that is very important."

The two-fold fix is aimed at improving safety. 

"These funds will help ensure that the runways and surrounding airfield remain safe for all parties as the airport continues to expand," said Higgins in a news release. 

The project will finance 1,500 feet of sanitary sewer connector improvements which will eliminate ponding on the airfield that creates potential wildlife hazards.

"The goal is to try and keep birds and other animals off of the air operations area in close proximity to the aircraft," Allen said. 

Wildlife and airplanes don't mix. On Jan. 15, 2009, an aircraft struck a flock of geese in New York City and ended up landing on the Hudson River. Luckily, all of the 155 passengers survived. 

"A bird, if it's big enough, can come through the windshield or it can dent and damage the wing or the engine," said pilot Rylan Campbell. 

Campbell flies into the Lake Charles Regional Airport twice a week and although he's never encountered an animal on the runway that doesn't mean he's going to let his guard down. 

"There's really not much you can do," he said. "They're going to fly out in front of you. It'd be almost like a dog running out in front of your car, you're not going to crash your car to not hit the dog, but on the other hand, you don't want to hit the dog, there's not much you can do."

The current wastewater treatment system is more than 50 years old and needs to be replaced, according to Allen.

This project will be a two-phase effort. Construction for the first phase is expected to begin this fall. 

Currently, there's also a fencing project underway to fence off the wooded area that surrounds the airport to help with bigger wildlife entering the airfield.

 "This Federal grant, as part of the aviation user-funded Airport Improvement Program, will enhance safety at LCH by eliminating the Airport's fifty-plus-year-old mechanical wastewater treatment facility and the associated wastewater effluent which serves as an attractant for birds and other wildlife," said Heath Allen, executive director of the Lake Charles Regional Airport. "By utilizing this funding to connect the Airport's facilities to the Parish and City's sanitary sewer lines, we will greatly increase safety and position the Airport for future economic growth. This represents a great partnership between the Airport, Calcasieu Parish, City of Lake Charles, and the federal government.  We appreciate the support of our federal delegation in gaining this critical funding."

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