Some water rates in NELA could go up to help fund multi-million dollar water pipeline project

Published: Mar. 19, 2018 at 10:59 PM CDT
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This is the second time in two years the Union-Lincoln Regional Water Supply Initiative has put its water pipeline project on hold.

Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker, who sits on the board, said the project should have been done by now, but money keeps bringing this project back to the drawing board.

"We're running out of the water. To grow our cities and to grow our parishes and to grow our economic base, we got to have more water," Walker said.

The pipeline would feed water to Farmerville and Ruston from Lake D'Arbonne. That project is going to cost $100 million, which is money they just don't have.

"We know the state and government don't have the money," Skip Russell, who is a member, said.

Now, the group has an idea where to get the money. They're talking about getting it from the consumers.

"That's the easiest way to do it. That way you can bond out the money for 20 years or whatever," Walker said.

They're talking about adding a few cents to each water meter that would start a fund.

"Taking that seed money and going to Washington and Baton Rouge and taking that money and saying, 'Would you help us with a water system?' Russell said.

The Sparta Aquifer commission must approve the water fee.

The urgency of this project is connected to the Sparta Aquifer that pumps out 56 million gallons of water each day to 16 parishes.

This project would cut that down by 5 to 6 gallons. In their words, it would prevent a long road to having salt water as a primary source of water.

The group said that amount of water is also affecting the economy.

"For our businesses and industries they have to move somewhere else," Russell said.

Mayor Walker said he's already had to turn some businesses away.

"The question I usually ask now is how much water do you need? Because I don't think we can take it away from our residential customers by taking out the Sparta," Walker said.

The group plans to go to Washington to lobby for more money sometime this spring.