Powhatan’s water problem will get help from the state

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There are new efforts to improve drinking water for small towns in Louisiana.

Ten places in Louisiana were identified as the “most distressed” in the state. Including two in Natchitoches Parish-the villages of Powhatan and Clarence. A new state committee was recently formed with plans to help. 

People in Powhatan said they’ve lived with discolored water for years.

“It’s not as clear as this bottled water, but you can see the difference in this to this,” said Powhatan resident Margie Davenport as she poured a glass of water from her faucet. 

About 230 people are on the system that comes from Spanish Lake. The town clerk said it’s regularly checked by the Department of Health and safe to drink, but minerals and groundwater seeping in gives it a color. The clerk explained that certain state laws prevent the town from adding too much chlorine and other chemical so they’re left with a color in their water. She called it a catch-22 situation. 

People in Powhatan are used to the water, but they can’t really use it and have to buy their water instead. 

“It stains our clothes obviously and we sure can’t drink anything like this,” said Sammy Leone, Powhatan resident.

Help could be flowing in the future. 

Governor John Bel Edwards just established a Rural Water Infrastructure Committee. They’ll work with state and federal agencies to identify each town’s problems and find solutions. Whether that’s writing grants or securing loans or providing technical engineering assistance. 

Leslie Durham is the Governor’s appointee to the Delta Regional Authority and a part of the Rural Water Infrastructure Committee. The Delta Regional Authority is a federal agency that works with various states to improve drinking water.

“The Governor wanted to bring everybody to the table so we can try to cut through the red tape, cut through the time, and help the rural communities with this vital issue,” Durham said.

Powhatan folks said the town does what it can to keep the water as clean as possible. But a new system can’t come fast enough, because depending on the weather their water gets dark. 

“Well I think it’s tainted for sure and I think we need a new water system,” Leone said. 

“It’s definitely needed. Very much so. Especially for the children, for their health,” Davenport said. 

This Rural Water Infrastructure Committee is just in it’s first stages of researching and the catch is any process will take time to fix. Durham said the next step will be for state officials and engineers to go to these small towns to speak with town officials and tour their water systems.

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