Story by Michelle Bates
An application for the scenic rivers permit needed to begin a study on drawing water from Bayou Dorcheat lies dormant with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, officials say.
Matt Weigel, with the LDWF scenic rivers program, says they received the application but KSA Alliance, the firm that submitted the application, withdrew it – sort of.
“They have submitted an application; however, we did not process it,” he said, “and before we could process it, they called us to withdraw it. It’s not technically withdrawn, but we’re treating it as if we haven’t received the application, because they sent us a package in the mail. They called us before we received the package.”
He went on to say that it’s technically not withdrawn because it has not been processed, adding that it takes a while to process those applications.
“We still have some questions ourselves about whether the application is going to happen,” Weigel said, “but I have no insight as to their reasons (for withdrawal). Officially, there is no application for that water withdrawal. It’s still in the study phase.”
He says they have received “a good bit” of public comment thus far, even though there is no official public comment period open.
“(It’s) mostly all against,” he said, “and we’ve also received some resolutions from the affected towns. We’re holding all the public comment we receive for when the application does come through.”
KSA Alliance is the engineering firm conducting a study as to the feasibility of opening a long dormant surface water treatment plant located on the grounds of Camp Minden. The Webster Parish Police Jury, in May, agreed to the study, with Bossier Parish footing the bill. In the process of that study, engineers during the May police jury meeting, said they would have to get a permit to draw water from Bayou Dorcheat.
That is where the contention hits. The City of Minden and the Town of Sibley passed resolutions opposing the idea of Bossier Parish seeking a Scenic Rivers permit to draw surface water off Dorcheat.
Previous studies have shown the permit was denied, such as the one in the 1980s, and most recently in 2010. The 2010 study was conducted by Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure, which evaluated the economic benefits to residents and businesses in Haughton, east Highway 80 and the Sligo Road areas, as well as the areas in Webster Parish around Camp Minden.
“We’ll look at the plant essentially to see if water is available and if we can get it permitted,” Lanny Buck with KSA said in May. “We will see what it will cost to get back on line, and we will develop who needs the water. We’ll see about the quantity of water, the quality and what the well situation is.”
Phone calls to KSA senior project manager John French for comment on the status of the application were unreturned as of press time.