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Choudrant mayor wants a lake near his village

Proposed plan may hinge on reservoirs use as portable water source.
August 29, 2004
By Jordan Blum

Louisiana Gannett News

CHOUDRANT -- The idea of state legislators presenting options for a man-made lake in Lincoln Parish is music to the ears of Choudrant Mayor Bill Sanderson, who has envisioned a recreational reservoir since 2000.

State Reps. Hollis Downs, R-Ruston and Rick Gallot, D-Grambling, and Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe, recently discussed with governmental consultant Michael Thompson of Delhi the possibility and process of developing a large lake.

However, doubts remain whether lake construction would garner enough support unless it also would provide a major source of potable water.

Sanderson met with Thompson earlier this year to discuss the potential for about a 1,500-acre lake south of Interstate 20 on the southern end of his village, which could increase development to the south in conjunction with Squire Creek Country Club developments just north of I-20 at Choudrant.

He described a lake and an adjoining park in that area as a haven for camping and bass fishing and a source for housing and business developments.

Sanderson said the project would need to seek funding through the state due to the dwindling Sparta Aquifer, which provides drinking water to residents of all or parts of Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Sabine, Webster and Winn and eight other parishes.

"The key to getting a lake is the alternative source of water," he said.

"That's a major asset. But the main reasons we want one are economic development and tourism."

It could provide some drinking water if treated, but Sanderson admitted it would not have nearly the potential for drinking water as a pipeline from Lake D'Arbonne in Union Parish.

Ruston Mayor Dan Hollingsworth supports the tourism aspects but questions whether it could provide enough potable water to become a worthwhile venture.

"There's benefits to recreation. And I'd be a killjoy if I opposed a nice recreational lake if it can be done," he said.

"But is there enough water in one of these little streams around here that, during flood time, you can get some water in there and sustain some sort of flow after absorption?" Hollingsworth said. "Well, there probably is some. But is there enough to help in the overall scheme of things?

"Lake D'Arbonne has the capability, if the water is treatable, of serving everyone in Lincoln and Union parishes."

Lake D'Arbonne must be the top focus if the priority is developing an alternative water source, said Ben McGee, supervisory hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey office in Ruston.

"We already have a captured resource in Lake D'Arbonne," he said. "I think before we consider building lakes, we should look at utilizing existing ones. With a lake, the major justification would fall on economic development."

However, Sanderson pointed out that building a pipeline from D'Arbonne and a water treatment plant likely would cost more than $20 million.

There are areas around Dubach that could be sites for lakes of more than 10,000 acres, he said. But since they would be along the Lake D'Arbonne watershed, any water pumped from there initially would diminish the water levels in Lake D'Arbonne as well, Sanderson said.

In Choudrant, a lake could rest along Little Choudrant and Choudrant creeks and not deplete the water supply of any other area lake, he said. However, at about 1,500 acres, the Choudrant lake is less than the 3,000-acre minimum Thompson proposes.

One other alternative mentioned is a site southeast of Choudrant that could accommodate up to a 12,000-acre lake, Thompson estimated. But it would rest partly in Jackson Parish and would displace some homes.

And as much as Sanderson would like to see a recreational lake in Choudrant, he said he would support the best location in the parish.

ŠThe Shreveport Times
August 29, 2004