By Paige Nash
The Town of Sibley Board of Aldermen approved a resolution at their July meeting, authorizing Mayor Jimmy Williams to begin negotiations to acquire Saltworks Water System. The town has been approached by the water system on numerous occasions recently.
“They are going to lose where they bring in their water from, in fact it’s on the other side of Heflin,” said Mayor Williams. “Where they have the well drilled, the landowner is taking it away from them.”
After meeting and reviewing figures, it seems acquiring the Saltworks Water System and consolidating with the Town of Sibley, may give them both a higher probability of getting approved to receive a grant provided by the Water Sector Program from the State of Louisiana.
This program was established to provide grant funding for repairs, improvements, and consolidation of community water and sewer systems. They award grants according to which systems have the highest number of points. Systems receive points based on certain factors, which include project severity, resiliency, sustainability, and consolidation. This encourages systems in the state to consolidate in order to guarantee at least 20 points towards their total score.
There are 32 water systems in Webster Parish alone, with most of them being smaller, rural systems.
“We were first told we would get a total of 5 million dollars, 2 million would go to the Town of Sibley and 3 million would go to Saltworks. We had a meeting with our representative, Steve (Ramsey, Webster Parish Police Juror for District 11), myself and the engineers. The further we got to looking at it, we found out it’s not 5 million, but 10 million. Saltworks would get 5 and we would get 5,” said Williams.
If they were to get approved for this grant, it would benefit both the Town of Sibley and Saltworks Water System. The 10 million dollars would allow them to drill new wells, install sand filters, electronic water meters and new pipe. This would also be beneficial for the local fire departments by supplying them with access to a greater number of fire hydrants.
Williams said, “Saltworks is in a bind; they are in trouble. They need help and this would also help the town of Sibley. What we would get out of it, is basically a completely new system. We had to go up on rates and will probably have to again, but this should help to hold down the rates in the future.”
The State of Louisiana allocated 300 million for Round 1 of this program and 450 million for Round 2. Systems may begin the application process for this second round as early as July 15, with the deadline being August 31.
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