Ridgecrest to tie in to Ferriday water system to resolve brown water issue

Published 7:38 pm Monday, November 8, 2021

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VIDALIA — The Town of Ridgecrest will soon be tied into the Ferriday water system in hopes of resolving its years old issue of unusable, brown tinted water.

During a regularly scheduled meeting of the Concordia Parish Police Jury on Monday, jury president Joseph Parker Sr. invited the public to attend a ground breaking ceremony Nov. 23 at 10 a.m. at Ridgecrest ballpark, where the town will celebrate its joining to Ferriday’s water system to bypass is own water plant that has been worn down with age.

The town’s residents have shared their experiences with poor quality water on social media and with town and parish officials on several occasions and complained of brown water that is unfit for drinking, cooking or for taking care of personal hygiene.

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Residents have had to turn to bottled water for cooking, drinking and brushing their teeth.

In 2019, the police jury declared a local State of Emergency so they could present town residents with tanks of water they could use in place of their own tap water.

Last year, the town received nearly $1 million from Louisiana Community Development Block Grant to lay new pipes in order to tie in to the Ferriday water system as well as a new ground storage tank, radio-controlled water meters and installing a handicap bathroom in city hall.

In other matters during Monday’s meeting, James King, a resident of Concordia Parish, spoke to the jury about districting concerns in the parish.

The parish, which is divided in to five districts, elects a total of nine members to the police jury with districts one, three, four and five represented by two jurors each. King argued that this process is outdated and that it gives the districts unequal representation on the jury.

The jurors took no action on the matter during Monday’s meeting.

The jury also heard a presentation regarding a $26 billion settlement offer made by Johnson & Johnson and other opioid distributers to resolve their liability in over 3,000 opioid crisis-related lawsuits in the nation.

The offer for $26 billion by the manufacturers would be dispersed across the nation, leaving parishes and municipalities in Louisiana with up to $325 million of the settlement.

Attorney John Young, who represents Concordia and Catahoula parishes in the suit, said the total amount that Louisiana governments would receive would be determined in part by population as well as by the number of opioid related cases in a jurisdiction, the number of opioid related deaths, and the number of pills that were shipped into a particular jurisdiction and the strength of those pills.

Young said while other states would only be allocating a portion of the funds to local municipalities, a deal was negotiated in Louisiana so that 100 percent of the settlement would be paid directly to local governments with 20 percent paid to sheriff’s offices and 80 percent to parishes.

“Based on those metrics, Concordia is looking at a maximum of 0.33 percent of what the State of Louisiana gets, but you’re not going to get a check every year. You’re going to get an allocation with a lot of restrictions on how it can be spent,” Young said.

Young said the funds could only be spent on opioid-crises related treatment, abatement and education. The jury passed a motion to accept the settlement unanimously.

More opioid suits are pending with Walmart and CVS Pharmacy, Young said.