SHREVEPORT, La. — With the water system crisis now behind the city, Mayor Adrian Perkins is preparing action to prevent another one like it.
In a statement to KTBS 3 News, Perkins wrote, “I’ve asked the city council to schedule a meeting in order to get a consensus on infrastructure improvements. And that will likely include a bond proposal.
“We will also put together information gathered during this extreme winter weather event for an after action review to discuss what improvements are still needed for our aging infrastructure,” the mayor concluded.
City Councilman Grayson Boucher says Perkin’s approach is “reasonable.” He emphasizes that the city should proceed carefully to formulate a bond package.
“It would have to be something that we’ve studied. You give me the hard facts of what exactly needs to be fixed. Don’t just come to me for a blank check for the water department saying, ‘I need $20 million worth of repairs.’ Why do we need that $20 million worth of repairs?” Boucher said.
Boucher is wary about asking the citizens for more borrowing, since water bills will already rise because of court ordered sewer system upgrades.
Councilman Jerry Bowman says he would strongly support a new bond proposal for water system infrastructure.
“This past crisis is evident that we need to do something about our aging pipes,” Bowman wrote via text message. “We definitely need to ensure we are not caught in a water crisis like we were this past week. I’m willing to work with the council and the administration to put together a bond package that will benefit all of our citizens.”
This all follows the disaster caused by last week’s historic polar vortex that caused water lines to freeze and rupture system wide. It caused many homes and businesses all over town to go with low or no running water for days on end.
The Perkins’ administration’s last bond package included money for water system upgrades. That was part of a nearly $90 million proposal that was primarily for streets and drainage.
Even though Perkins said he had enough votes on the council to send the measure to the people, he pulled the plug on it in January. He said he wanted more consensus from the city council to support it before sending it to voters. That election would’ve happened in April.
Boucher says there should not be a plan to simply replace aging water lines.
“We had water mains rupture in new pipes. We had water mains rupture in old pipes. I think anytime you have a major incident you should critique what you’ve done, the rights and wrongs, and where our weaknesses are in equipment and personnel, and overall oversight.”
The five other council members did not respond with comment for this story.