NATCHITOCHES, La. (KSLA) - Sunday evening (Feb. 21), the mayor of Natchitoches and the Natchitoches City Council voted unanimously to declare a water emergency regarding the Natchitoches Water Distribution System and implement water conservation measures targeting non-essential uses by Resolution 017 of 2021.
“I received a call from Matt, the head of our utilities department, yesterday,” Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. said. “After church, I went to take a look at the water plant and there was red all over the screen, so the council and I agreed we needed to have an emergency declaration. It’s to send a message to our residents to let them know in terms of water. To quote Ronnie, our operator at the water plant, he has never seen our water system like this in his 14 years of working there. As of yesterday, there were 30 percent who were without water.”
The emergency resolution allows for certain non-essential uses of water to be restricted to ensure sufficient water is available to meet basic needs such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, toilet flushing, and maintaining sufficient flows for fire protection.
The resolution passed recommends the following limitations and restrictions:
- All outdoor irrigation, except for areas using reclaimed water. A schedule designating specific watering days may be implemented in place of a ban.
- Washing of sidewalks, driveways, tennis courts, patios, and other paved areas
- Outdoor use of water-based play apparatus
- A minimum operating efficiency level of two cycles of concentration is required for water-cooled space and equipment cooling systems
- Restaurants and other food service establishments are strongly advised against serving water provided by the city to customers
- Operation of outdoors misting systems used to cool public areas
- Filling of swimming pools, fountain spas, or other outdoor water features
- Washing of automobiles, trucks, trailers, and other vehicles is strongly advised against, except at facilities equipped with wash water recirculation systems
- Industrial clients are urged to scale back production as much as is practical in order to conserve water usage
“Today, we have made great strides in terms of our water,” Williams Jr. said. “We were 25 PSI yesterday, when normally, we need to be at 63, 64 PSI. Today, at this moment, we are at about 51 PSI. So we are making some great progress. We are still not where we know we need to be, but we are making some significant progress. We are just thankful to our utility department.”
Williams Jr. says they have been able to restore power to everyone in the city, but restoring water is still a work in progress. He says he cannot give a definite time as to when water will be fully restored.
“That is the question everyone wants to know,” Williams Jr. said. “It’s really not that simple. We don’t want to get people’s expectations up. We just don’t know when we are able to get our supply built back up and our pressure to where it needs to be.”
Williams Jr. says car wash businesses in the area are refraining from reopening at this time and he has requested restaurants not serve fountain drinks in the meantime. He says he’s also asking residents to report leaks to 318-357-3880 and to be cognizant of washing dishes, doing laundry, and flushing the toilet.
He says for residents looking for water, some businesses may still be selling bottled water and there’s a shipment of pallets of bottled water that should arrive in the city Tuesday.
“We have opened a filling station,” Williams Jr. said. “Customers, if you live in Clarence, Shamard Heights, Oak Grove, or wherever we supply water to can come with their jugs and containers and fill their water at the corner of 3rd and Church Street near the Police Jury parking lot. You will have to boil it. We will be under a boil advisory for some time. There are no hours of operation for it. When the pallets of water come, they will be shipped to the MLK Rec Center, where we have been distributing water.”