BLANCHARD, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The town of Blanchard has a project underway to support future economic development in north Caddo Parish by means of expanding its water supply.
The operators of the water plant say the modern, indoor facility produces clean water that filters in from Caddo Lake. It’s operating at only a 40% capacity of what it is capable to supply, so they say there’s room to add customers.
In the next year, those customers will become their neighbors to the north in the towns of Belcher, Dixie, and Gilliam.
“There’s no development going on between Highway 1 and Belcher at this time and the reason is there’s no sustainable water,” said Blanchard Mayor Jim Galambos.
Mayor Galambos said last July his office was approved for a 100% forgivable loan program through the Louisiana Department of Health. The program allows smaller towns with struggling water infrastructure to be absorbed into a neighboring water supply and forgives fines the towns have received by not meeting state criteria. Galambos said Blanchard will take over the BelDiGill water system which relies on wells (aquifers.) The program will cover the infrastructure costs for the new lines to be installed.
“We have an opportunity, though, as the water lines are going up I-49 to increase the size of the lines to spur more economic activity and growth for north Caddo Parish,” Galambos said.
Galambos said the next step is seeking additional funding from the Caddo Parish Commission since the loan does not cover the larger lines. Galambos said it’s an economic opportunity because the smaller towns do not have a large enough water supply for future business and development to build and be sustained.
“It’s a win-win for those citizens up there and we’re very thankful for the state for giving us this opportunity. Now we just want Caddo Parish to approve the other $900,000 to get us a bigger sized lines. But we do have the funding right now to get to Belcher.”
He said Blanchard’s plant will oversee repairs and billing of the additional residents. Electronic meters will also be installed. He said as the smaller towns have a chance to grow, Blanchard gains revenue, which can be used to go back into paying off the costs of the water plant that was constructed in 2015 at a cost of $20 million. He also said this will help keep rates low.
“That’s the whole purpose to eventually keep a good, stable water rate with only minimal increases each year.”
The additional funding was approved by the Caddo Parish Economic Development Committee and will be on the commissioner’s agenda during their next meeting.