Lack of funding keeping project from taking off

Published 12:01 am Friday, January 25, 2008

VIDALIA — Concordia Parish citizens have recently voiced a desire to see a structure that would regulate the water flow to the Old River from the Mississippi River.

Among reasons citizens gave were a desire to see the area become a sporting mecca and to bring money in through sales of goods to sportsmen.

That desire is nothing new, Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said.

Email newsletter signup

“We first started working on this seven or eight years ago,” Ferrington said. “About five years ago we appointed a committee to meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find out what we would need to do.”

The goal was to be able to maintain a water level of 32 feet on Old River, Ferrington said.

“Not only would it be beneficial for recreation in Concordia Parish, it would benefit the Ferriday Waterworks,” Ferrington said. “They receive their drinking water from Old River.”

But that work never resulted in anything solid, and so the project has remained a dream for residents.

And getting the approval to do the project would take a good amount of work, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Supervisor at the Vidalia office Tom Matthews said.

“They would have to go through Congress and get the authority and the money,” he said. “If the Corps got involved, there would be a lot of planning.”

That planning would include feasibility studies, as well as environmental and economic impact studies, Matthews said.

“Then it would go back to the local sponsor such as the police jury and see if they would participate in some kind of cost sharing,” he said. “Once we got that squared away we could get started with the engineering situation.”

Local governments could take on the project, but they would have to go through a lengthy permit process similar to the one if the Corps was involved.

The real problem with the proposal is when it comes to funding, Ferrington said.

“It would have to be completely funded through some sort of grant program,” he said. “All of our funds are now dedicated to other sources.”

But Ferrington agreed that if the project ever takes off, it will benefit recreation in the parish.

“That’s basically one of the best fishing areas in Concordia Parish,” he said.