Mizell: No reservoir opinion yet

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Although State Sen. Beth Mizell was quoted in The Era-Leader of Franklinton last week saying she would attempt to disband and close the Washington Parish Reservoir Commission, on Friday she would not say what her plans would be.

In fact, Mizell declined to answer any questions on the project to The Daily News. Rather, her assistant, Lynette Sharp, said the senator wouldn’t make any comments until Mizell makes up her mind on the matter.

“As soon as she knows how she’s going to go about it, she will let you know,” Sharp said.

State law established the Washington Parish Reservoir Commission in 2002 and the project is estimated to require 3,200 acres. The commission believes the reservoir will enhance water and soil conservation, improve the quality of life for parish residents, attract tourists, control floods and spur economic development.

However, residents of the Oak Grove community, the area proposed to house the reservoir, say the plan is nothing short of a land grab.

“I am not opposed to a reservoir on the parish. I am opposed to taking people’s land and homes when it’s not absolutely necessary,” said Phillipp Bedwell, a parish resident. “And the reservoir commission has tried to state they need it for potable water and all that.

“But all the federal and state agencies have declared there��s no need for potable water there, there’s not a water shortage in Washington Parish.”

The whole matter may be moot anyway, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit to build the reservoir in the Oak Grove Community last year. An appeal was filed after the ruling, but there is no word on when a final decision could come.

“We’re kind of in a hold pattern as far as waiting on the Corps,” said Bedwell. “The people I’ve talked to at the Corps, they’re real nice people but the process takes as long as long as it takes.”

Huey Pierce, the chairman of the Washington Parish Reservoir Commission, declined to comment on Mizell’s statements.