When discussing economic development, the issue of water almost always comes up. While not the most exciting aspect of community growth, it is perhaps the most vital. Without water, pretty much everything comes to a stop.

In Webster Parish, we have been blessed with the Sparta Aquifer, an underground great lake of sorts, as our main source of water. Over the past couple of decades, it has been well documented that the load on the Sparta is unsustainable over the long term. It simply cannot replenish itself fast enough to keep up with the growing demand.

Tuesday, the Economic Development Committee of the Webster Parish Police Jury entertained a possible solution our “water problem.” Rick Buckner, executive director of the Sparta Groundwater Commission Foundation, said the Army Corps of Engineers is looking into the costs and logistics of building a new lake and opening the long-dormant water treatment plant at Camp Minden.

District 8 Police Juror Nick Cox has been a vocal proponent for economic development in the parish. He went on the record about the water issues we face. “The longer I’m on the jury, the more I realize that water is a huge deal,” Cox said. “So, anything we can do to discuss different water resources, I think it’s something we need to entertain.”

Aside from Webster Parish, there is an ever-growing need for water capacity throughout our nation. And, economic development follows the water. If you haven’t read the whole story, I encourage you to go back to Wednesday’s Press-Herald and read.

As a community, we need to rally behind this proposed plan. Regardless of the type of growth we want to see, it is imperative that a water solution be found and funded.
Should we become proactive in this cause, we will be a “leg up” on others when it comes to the competitive nature of economic development. It would be nice to take the lead.

Why should you care? Why should you get involved?

The answer is quite simple. The future depends on it.

If we do nothing, the burden on the Sparta will continue to increase. Things will reach a tipping point. When that happens, water will become less of a commodity and more of a precious resource, with the price tag to go along with it.

Surrounding communities are working on their own plans to address this issue, and therefore Webster Parish could fall behind, losing more than water, but jobs, population, and overall economy.

We are faced with a real challenge, but also a real opportunity. This plan could become a reality if those with political clout get involved, in cooperation with our local activists who know how to get things done.

This all starts with the Police Jury. Once they draft a resolution in support of the water plan, we all should then get to work pushing the idea wherever we go. If the only way this can happen is if the state and federal governments get on board, then we need to unite to make sure they know our position.

Here is our chance for everyone to work together for the good of all. Let us not blow it.

David Specht is president of Specht Newspapers, Inc. He may be reached via email at dspecht@press-herald.com.