Guest Letter of James Couvillion (JCouvillion1234@gmail.com):
The Southern Hills Homeowners and League of Women Voters last night held the election forum for some of the interested people. Glad we had a good crowd, but the forums are all about a lack of real substance. Who decided which questions were to be asked of the candidates is a mystery. There were a few pointed questions asked, but those are questions the people wrote down and presented to the sign-in desk for consideration.
The State Representatives got the majority of the questions and the local race between Parker Ward and Jim Smith our present Commissioner were, as usual, “lite” and had no real bearing on the issues facing Caddo Parish. Those issues are:
- Lack of code enforcement
- The new effort by the Commission to create a parish water district behind closed doors
Issues that need to be fully discussed in this campaign will only be addressed if candidates hold their own town hall meetings in both Southern Hills and Keithville. Actually, two-thirds of the voters live in the Southern Hills part of the city and the remaining one-third live outside the city limits, in and around Keithville.
The issue that will decide the winner of this District Eleven race will hinge on which one becomes accessible to the people and who makes a clear stand as to why they should either remain representing the people or why a new commissioner is needed at this time.
Water is and should be the local focus for this campaign. It is not clear why Commissioner Smith, the chairman of the parish natural resource committee, has chosen the Shaw Group from Baton Rouge to do the study to determine the topics of the study that the parish needs answers. The State Representatives, both house and senate, got a free ride last night except for Richard Burford on their lack of taking a position on water conservation. The gas industry started pumping water from the Carrizo-Wilcox, our only groundwater source for potable water, in early 2008. Through public pressure and working behind the scenes, drillers and the State claim that somewhere between 75 and 80 per cent of the frac water needed to frac the Haynesville Formation now comes from surface water. No State Representative has taken any action to appeal the State water capture rule. That rule makes it legal for any landowner/leasee to drill water wells and sell the groundwater as surface water from ponds. This is a known practice in both Caddo and Desoto, but it is reported that getting a return telephone call from any elected State or Parish official is rare.
Speaking of what is legal and must be OK. The law says that government bodies can meet without a public process and without giving public notice to spend taxpayer money for a study. It also is legal for this same group to award a contract to a committee-selected group like the Shaw Group of Baton Rouge.
It is legal for water well owners who permitted their water wells under the industrial classification to sell groundwater for “frac” operations. So it is not what is legal that should be guiding our Parish Committee on the Water District formation, it is what is fair, ethical and open to the public that should have decided the course of action taken. Not permitting local firms and failing to establish a scope of work for the study and failing to create qualifications for applicants should become common knowledge to the voters in District 11 this October.
We could talk about failing to establish the geographical needs of the parish for additional water supply both for potable, industrial and agricultural use for this study. The decline of groundwater levels should be common knowledge of the voters and it should have gotten the attention of our State Reps long ago. It hasn’t been an issue because the print media and the TV media either are uninformed or make it a long time practice of protecting the local lack of a political position by officials who are just waking up at the State level, but are doing nothing to write and sponsor legislation to correct the wrongs of groundwater capture and failing to support local conservation controls at the parish level. Such controls would require enforcement, which is not being practiced on any ordinance passed in the last few years.
Hopefully, when the election is over, some of the voters in Caddo District Eleven will become better informed on WATER.
NOTE: The industry provides the public information regarding “Tight Water Management” at a conference: http://www.tight-oil-water-management-2011.com/
Thank You Jimmy,
Being a long time League of Women Voters Member when we used to address the true issues in our Voter Forums, I thank you for your tenacity of bringing out issues which the League has made stands on, but do not want to make a difference in accountable, representative, responsible prudent questions. I have helped to produce, televise, and do questionares with the Times, Jounal, etc. There are the sunshine laws, campaign financing. We just need to see where our leadership works, and who did make up the questions. Transportation of goods, and services, wise management of the quality and quanity of our water resources is most important.
I guess that it must have not been that important for me to attend, as I actually forgot it. I called Lois Shrieb and she told me to call Wanda Right, and I did but did not get an answer, so decided to put my energy elsewhere. I am supporting Njeri Camara for Parish Commissioner. Even though I do not live in her District, I know she is smart and conscientious and will get important things accomplished.
I hope to get Aquatic State of Arts Programs, support the J Bennett Johnson Visitor Center, which has our Red River Water Development and History.
Corps of Engineers has a stake in its property. Helped with the Hunting and Fishing Day at Bobcau last weekend.
Best to you,
Beth Foster, (email@example.com)