Last Modified: Friday, June 06, 2014 4:46 PMBeauregard Parish Waterworks District 3 has agreed to settle a suit with an environmental group that alleged the agency has continually violated federal safe drinking water laws.
The environmental group, RESTORE, and the waterworks district settled the suit Friday, with the district admitting one-time violations.
The district, which serves 19,000 people, primarily in the eastern part of the parish, will conduct an independent audit as part of the settlement agreement.
The auditor, chosen with the agreement RESTORE, will seek to address any current issues with the water supply, and will be given an opportunity to suggest areas for improvement in district operations.
An audit report will be produced, as well as an action plan, if significant deficiencies are found. The settlement mandates the report be published online for six months or until corrective action has been completed.
Status updates on changes or updates to the water system will be made available by the district. The settlement also calls for quarterly informational meetings, separate from regular board meetings, to be open to the public.
Michael Tridico, president of RESTORE, said the lawsuit was filed in response to his discovery that the tap water had an abnormally high level of sodium carbonate, which could cause health problems. He said the Chicot Aquifer, which is used by DeRidder, could provide an ample water supply to Waterworks District 3 customers.
“I’d hate to see us drinking inferior water when we’ve got a great supply right here,” he said.
Although not part of the settlement, the court filing recommends the Beauregard Parish Police Jury pass a groundwater protection ordinance that would prevent certain activities occurring within a 1,000-foot radius of wells. The city of DeRidder has such an ordinance.
U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Minaldi dismissed the lawsuit but retained jurisdiction over the enforcement of the settlement agreement, in the event the need should arise.