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Story Archives: Police jurors: Richwood, western Ouachita have needs, too
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|Police jurors: Richwood, western Ouachita have needs, too|
Ouachita Parish police juror Mack Calhoun wants the Legislature to know that providing another source for drinking water in western Ouachita should be a top priority.
During Monday's regular police jury meeting, Calhoun lobbied to have a project to provide quality drinking water in western Ouachita included on the parish's wish list when local officials visit with state lawmakers in a lobbying trip to Baton Rouge sponsored by the Monroe Chamber of Commerce. The annual lobbying trip is known as Northern Exposure. It is a get-together of northern Louisiana officials, who travel to the state capitol to inform legislators and other state officials of needs in north Louisiana.
Typically during Northern Exposure, the parish provides legislators with a list of projects it submits annually for possible capital outlay funding. Several police jurors in Ouachita say the wish list is outdated and needs to be revamped. The police jury finalized its priority list for Northern Exposure during Monday's meeting in order to submit it to Monroe Chamber of Commerce officials.
Calhoun has proposed creating a lake in western Ouachita to provide another source of drinking water for residents. Currently, western Ouachita utilizes the Sparta Aquifer for drinking water.
West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris previously said numerous studies have been conducted to show that if the depletion of the Sparta is not addressed soon, northeast Louisiana residents would see water wells dry up and the region would eventually lose an important asset in the aquifer.
The Sparta Aquifer provides water to 14 parishes in the region.
"We need to put this lake on the list because we're running out of drinking water in west Ouachita," Calhoun said. "This is the most important thing in west Ouachita. That's what I get calls on the most. That and education."
"We don't have lakes … in east Ouachita, they have three lakes," Calhoun continued. "Over here we have nothing, and some wells are already being shut down because of salt water intrusion."
"Let's support building this lake, or whatever it takes," he added.
Calhoun said the Sparta Aquifer is dropping about two feet per year and he fears west Ouachita will eventually run out of drinking water. Salt water intrusion already is a major problem throughout western Ouachita Parish, Calhoun said.
"I don't want the children of west Ouachita to be drinking salt water," Calhoun explained. "Many times we cannot taste the salt, so every month they have to go and test every well, and the salt water content is continually rising."
Police juror Dorth Blade also requested the parish include the projects, needs and concerns of Richwood on its priority list since the town did not have any items on the current list compiled by the Monroe chamber.