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Sparta meeting lacks quorum, meets anyway


Attendees receive update on finances, Water Fest

The Sparta Groundwater Conservation District Commission meeting was scheduled for Wednesday however a quorum was not reached. The attending members and visitors continued on without conducting official business. There were updates from the executive director, Lindsay Gouedy on finances and the Sparta Water Fest activities.

“I did get to go to the Water Fest when it was here. It was very busy. We did a lot of running around but it was very good. We had a good number of kids there and they all seemed to be having a good time,” Webster representative Nick Cox said.

Jackson and Winn Parish did not participate in Water Fest this fall but executive director Lindsay Gouedy said she hoped to include students from the parishes in Spring activities.

“My hopes is they will come and be able to do something in the Spring. We had some dynamics with one of the schools in Jackson Parish last year with the fifth graders. So the folks I’ve been working with want us to try with the seventh grade with Jackson and Winn. We’ll have to try some new activities. I’m always open for new things and it works well with the seventh grade curriculum,” Gouedy said.

Senator Ryan Gatti attended and spoke to the attending members.

“I just appreciate the work that y’all do. You represent Bossier, Webster, Claiborne, Bienville and I’m so glad to be able to come by today and visit with y’all and lend my support to what your doing,” Gatti said, “I’m here to help you in any way that I can.”

Chairman Zack Spivey pointed out that there was money available from the state of Louisiana for rural districts to monitor their usage and leakage so they could reduce waste.

The most recent usage rates published were from 2014 and showed some increase in usage. Some preliminary 2015 information showed an increase in usage.

“Just be aware, our most recent data is three years old and these numbers could fluctuate and we just don’t know it. The good news is right now, we’re not seeing significant fluctuations in the wells so that means we’re not having any substantial drawdown in the wells.

Union County Arkansas Sparta Initiative representative Cheryl Shoup attended. She reported their monitoring wells in 1997 were lowering 7 feet per year. They have now increased 99.8 feet since 2004 since switching some industries to surface water use. The monitoring wells are dedicated and are measured manually every quarter to ensure the device measurements are accurate.

“The South Arkansas – North Louisiana Sparta Initiative in Union County Arkansas, we have been working together for 20 years now on Sparta groundwater recovery. We’ve been doing it as an economic development. Everybody says that’s an environmental issue. No, it’s an economic development issue with environmental and public health benefits,” Cheryl Shoup said, “In 1997 when we were learning what we were doing. We know we needed to do something. I said, what do we need to know? How much we’re using, how long we’ll use before we’re inflicting irreparable damage, and how much we could we use so that we could reach something that my state agency called equilibrium.”

One of the wells used to monitor the level of the water is in Homer and has had some trouble staying up compared to the other wells.

“The Sparta knows no geographic boundaries because we’ve had a lot of help and support from our state legislature in Arkansas and also from our congressional delegation. We couldn’t have done this without you all and without them,” Shoup said.

The budget for 2018 was shown versus spending. However, there was concern over the budgeted spending being higher than the expected income. Goudey said she was working hard to stay under that budgeted amount.

“If I’m not mistaken, we all said that we would get with our governing boards and other people and ask for donations.

Especially because many of them well, they’re giving better now, but at one point they weren’t giving like they said the were going to give but Lindsey has been able to procure more,” commission member Tammy Singleton said.

“I encourage each of you to do what we can to ensure the bottom number is not bigger than the top number,” chairman Spivey said.

Goudey also said that the commission should consider membership with the Louisiana Rural Water Association.