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Opposition grows to Dorcheat water withdrawal

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By Michelle Bates, michelle@press-herald.com

Opposition against Bossier Parish’s proposal to withdraw water from Bayou Dorcheat through a long dormant intake system at Camp Minden is growing.

At Tuesday’s Minden City Council meeting, council members are expected to consider passing a resolution opposing the idea presented to the Webster Parish Police Jury in May. Mayor Tommy Davis says his concern is not so much the withdrawal of water from Dorcheat, but rather that it stay in Webster Parish.

“I’m not against drawing water out of there, but the way I understand it, they have to get a Scenic Rivers permit (from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries), and that’s been turned down before,” he said. “My concern, and I think the council’s concern, is that if water is drawn out of Dorcheat, then the water needs to stay in Webster Parish. We don’t need to send our water outside the parish.”

The Sibley Town Council recently passed a resolution in opposition as well. Mayor Jimmy Williams says he is concerned not only about the water supply for his town but for the parish as well.

“I fought it when it came up before,” he said. “They’re going to take four million gallons out of Dorcheat every day, and they don’t think it’s going to hurt Bistineau? Right now, before they started taking water out, Bistineau was low, just from the drought. Who’s going to put the pipe in to benefit these people in these towns? Their plan is to take the water to south Bossier because they have industry and new subdivisions. I just think would kill Bistineau and hurt Webster Parish.”
Sen. Robert Adley, district 36, recently sent a letter to LDWF asking them to carefully consider the request for a permit, because he felt it would affect the Sparta Aquifer. Webster Parish is the recharge area for the aquifer, and much of its recharge comes from Bayou Dorcheat, he said.

In May, the Webster Parish Police Jury agreed to join the Bossier Parish Police Jury in a feasibility study to look at the possible benefits of drawing water off Bayou Dorcheat by way of reopening a long-dormant water treatment plant at Camp Minden. A previous study revealed most of the need for water was in Webster Parish along with at least one water system in Bossier Parish.

According to that study, the impact to Bayou Dorcheat was minimal.

Police Jury president Jim Bonsall said this is only a study and the jury is not going to do anything to hurt Webster Parish or its water supply. Not only that, but if Bossier can’t get the permit, then there’s no point in doing the study, he added.

“It’s not something we would support if it was just Bossier Parish coming into Webster Parish to get water,” he said in an Aug. 13 telephone interview. “Bossier Parish needs some water, and that’s why they are willing to pay for this first study. It is not a deal where Bossier Parish is going to come into Webster Parish and start pumping water out of Webster Parish.

“The real truth is this is state water,” he continued, “and truthfully, we could not stop them if they went through all the red tape to do this. It is just as much as their water as it is ours. The deal is if we are not on board, then they are not going to proceed with it.”