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Lincoln reservoir met with resistance
November 8, 2004
 
RUSTON - Local legislators are targeting Lincoln Parish as an ideal location for a new reservoir, but some environmental organizations and citizen groups in other parishes are coming out in opposition to the six current reservoirs projects ongoing in the state.

The Louisiana chapter of the Sierra Club is urging Gov. Kathleen Blanco not to fund any new manmade lakes and dams in the state until a comprehensive study is done for the state's water needs.

Sierra Club Vice Chairwoman Leslie March said more information is needed before spending the state's valuable funds on a "poorly planned system of reservoirs" that could harm the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

"In the long term, damming for lakes makes the water colder and is not a proper habitat for existing fish. The pooled water increases mercury levels, too," March said.

Reservoir and governmental consultant Mike Thompson of Delhi is heading up reservoir plans for Washington, Allen and possibly Lincoln parishes. With potable water becoming more in demand along the Sparta Aquifer and throughout the state,

he said the need for potable water trumps the concerns of environmental groups.

"The Sierra Club and I are in complete opposition on their theory. I believe it's most important for people to have clean water to drink," Thompson said. "I believe in preservation, but we have to live in these times."

He said the stance of the Sierra Club is "typical" and pointed out that stringent environmental studies are completed before any reservoirs are built. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also examines environmental effects and has the final say.

Any environmental damage created requires mitigation efforts and, although he admits the process isn't perfect, the water and economic development benefits outweigh other concerns.

While in Ruston last week, Blanco said reservoir projects have shown their worth at places like Poverty Point in Delhi. But Blanco said correct scientific data is essential and she will consider studying the ramifications of the projects.

Some local officials like Ruston Mayor Dan Hollingsworth and Sparta Groundwater Commission Chairman Richard Durrett have said the need for a water pipeline to Lake D'Arbonne is more important than a reservoir now, but Rep. Hollis Downs, R-Ruston, and Sen. Bob Kostelka said they intend to push for funds for a Lincoln reservoir in 2005.

Kostelka said he favors pursuing both projects simultaneously and said a new lake will enhance the environment instead of harm it.

"It's a loss to me how an environmental organization can oppose a lake," he said. "We need water and it will increase recreational opportunities and property values."
 
©The News-Star
November 8, 2004


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