It’s Costly to find out What You Don’t Know

Caddo Parish is promoting a Parish Wide Water District. The Oil and Gas Commission committee has held meetings for at least two years.  During this time the administrator Woody Wilson, it is reported, has held individual meetings with local civil engineering firms to discuss the feasibility of creating such a large district. Both Bossier City and Shreveport along with the parishes were considered for a study. As it turns out neither Bossier nor Caddo Parish have been able to write down on paper what the study needs to address. The two cities opted out of the study.  That leaves both parish governments wishing to promote through this study the construction of a water system for both parishes with the middle of both Parishes divided by two cities.  Each Parish may sign different contracts with the Shaw Group of Baton Rouge. Caddo is to contribute 600,000 dollars and Bossier some 241,000 dollars. Shaw has a formal proposal with specific components in the study for each Parish.  I have read the Shaw proposal to Caddo and have a copy, but I don’t know if Bossier Parish received the same proposal. Neither can I explain why the total cost is not the same for each parish. I guess Shaw will have unique contracts for each parish based on needs.

At the October 20 Caddo Parish Commission meeting, commissioners will vote on an ordinance transferring $600,000 from the Oil and Gas Revenue Funds to a capital outlay fund for the study and designate the Shaw Group as the contractor. Word is that local company Balar Engineering has a cooperative agreement with Shaw to participate in the study. All firms that previously met with Woody Wilson lacked written proposals.

Local governments famously use taxpayer money for studies. Studies frequently create relationships, pass money and get little accomplished as the studies only remain “studies.”

The City of Shreveport has an ongoing study of its decaying water and sewer infrastructure. In 2008 the Corp of Engineers completed a study of Cross Lake, our only water resource, and reported concerns over the structure of the dam and the annual four-tenths of an inch in annual sediments. The Corp estimated a cost of $240,000,000 to dredge the lake. On top of that, the water plant has been overworked  throughout the summer . Maximum capacity was reached and it is possible that without rain we will have a  shortage of lake water next year.

After we pay for the studies to determine what government doesn’t know, government creates more studies for others to determine what else government doesn’t know. If we pay Shaw to tell us what we don’t know, will we have any money left to start a project that we are not  sure  is even feasible?

It is a shame that the Public Works Departments of both Parishes don’t know, what they don’t know.  The study provider must write it down for them and tell them how much it will cost  to learn what they think government should know.

I wonder why more of us failed to go into business to cut and paste data from studies to tell local governments what they don’t know and charge them for stuff available online or in State funded studies completed, or to be completed this year. One example entitled “State of Louisiana Water Management Plan“.

Jimmy Couvillion