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Lake life

Water: The real question

I sat through two hours of discussions of water last week at the meeting of the Sparta Groundwater Conservation District Commission in Farmerville. I heard about how the commission is looking for ways to help our north Louisiana region save water. I also learned that they need donations to operate; how projects in other areas are paying dividends on slowing loss of water from the Sparta and how some areas are actually showing gains in underground water tables.

I heard about the water problems of other states from a New Orleans attorney whose title was, I think, Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy of the Tulane Institute. Lucky I wrote that down. He did have some startling news about water depletion in other areas and the drastic measures some areas were taking. He even said some towns out West could become ghost towns similar to the Matt Dillon days on Gunsmoke if they didn’t find water.

sparta commissionOf major interest to me was a report on the Union/Lincoln Water Initiative, which continues to study the feasibility of using Lake D’Arbonne water as a drinking water supply for Ruston and Farmerville. This is a pretty big issue for our lake and for the future of potable water for residents, businesses and potential economic development.

Even though the meeting was well publicized, one thing I didn’t hear was a peep from John Q Public. Aside from folks on the agenda, a few of us there to report on the meeting and one lone community member, nobody else was in attendance. I was a bit disappointed. I was, however, pleased that the commission make the effort to meet in Farmerville and give local residents a chance to hear what’s going on. Apparently having the meeting on dwindling water supplies during a time when the lake was two feet high didn’t get people’s attention. Perhaps it was the 2 p.m. meeting time.

After it was over and I was able to put my thoughts together, I think the real question relating to water in Louisiana is this: With people saying water will be “the new oil”   and  the biggest factor in economic development and the face of our future, why the devil isn’t our state buying land, renting bulldozers and building lakes around the state at an alarming rate? Is it just so obvious that it would be a smart thing to do that nobody has even thought about it. We probably have enough water flowing through Louisiana every year to water half the South (not counting Atlanta and Dallas….). So the real question is:

       Why aren’t we building more lakes with water usage in mind?

I hope you’ll start asking your state elected officials that. It wouldn’t hurt to ask the local ones, too, so they can ask the state folks as well. I know it cost a lot of money. But Louisiana spends at least $1.79 billion a year on business incentive programs, according to a report by the New York Times. I hate to quote them, but they have more time for research than I do. They don’t fish. I don’t have anything against business incentive programs, but having more water available for drinking and for business surely sounds like a good investment to me.

Here’s another point:  The United States wasted $418 billion in 2012 based on bad medication-related decisions, and the impact was most deeply felt in those states that could least afford it—including Louisiana—according to data released today by Express Scripts. Louisiana wasted the second-largest amount of money in the nation: $1,601 per resident. That figures places it not too far behind No. 1 ranked Mississippi. You could build a lot of lakes for that. So again, the question:

     Why aren’t we building more lakes with water usage in mind?

Saving groundwater is important. But building supplies of surface water is, too. I don’t have the answer. I’ll be glad to know if somebody wants to tell me though.

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And, while water isn’t a laughing matter, I’ll leave it to our liberal friends in Oregon to bring this to a whole different level. Last week officials in Portland, Oregon announced they were dumping 38 million gallons of drinking water because a teenager was seen urinating into the city reservoir.  They decided to flush the entire reservoir after surveillance cameras captured the moment when a 19-year-old skateboarder took a leak in it on Wednesday.  It wasn’t the first time for either. Hope nobody asks if that ever happened on D’Arbonne. Sorry….

I’m sure that animals, birds and fish use the Portland reservoir as a natural toilet. Oregon health officials admit there is little public health risk from the incident described above, but as one city official put it, “We just don’t like the idea of teenage urine in the city water system.” At what age does one’s urine acceptable in the city water? Never mind. I should stick to writing about fishing. But I do have one question:

      Why aren’t we building more lakes with water usage in mind?

 

 

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