What began as an emergency situation in the parish in 1992 because of the poor quality of well water in the parish, has turned into a $24 million blessing for 11,445 rural homes. As of today that is how many homes are provided water from four different water districts in the parish.
The only area where water lines have not been run are homes a few miles west of Kaplan up to the town of Gueydan. But, thanks to the USDA Rural Development, 380 new homes west of Kaplan will be given a chance to hook up to the parish’s water system in the next two years.
This week the USDA is awarding Waterworks District #1 of Vermilion Parish $3 million to assist with the construction of 60.4 miles of new waterlines. Once completed, customers will have access to quality, reliable and safe water.
The project is expected to take 18 months. The water lines will be extended from the newest District #1 water plant built two miles west of Kaplan on La. 14. That plant has been open just under two years.
The entire water project began in 1992 with the first water system built in Pecan Island because of salt in water wells. Over the next 18 years, more lines were extended in Pecan Island. Today, there are 390 customers on 23 miles of water lines.
The big construction of water plants and lines began in 1994-95 with the building of the North Vermilion water treatment plant, Southeast Water Treament Plant (south of Abbeville), and Magnolia Water District located east of Abbeville and north of Erath.
Over the next 15 years, the lines were extended throughout the parish.
The water lines in the North Vermilion Parish had the largest growth their first 10 years of existence. Today the system provides water for 6,805 customers and covers 411 miles. Three plants provide homes water west of the Vermilion River and north of Kaplan. In 2004 a water treatment plant was built in Esther and emergency water lines near Forked Island/E. Broussard area due to arsenic found in the water. The final water treatment plant was built west of Kaplan for a cost of $2 million.
Once the water lines are completed, the next phase is maintenance and upgrading of the lines and systems, said Engineer Gene Sellers who helped design the rural system.
“Once the parish is covered, we oversee the growth of the system,” Sellers said.
The North Vermilion area has had the largest increase in customers over the last 15 years. New subdivisions with new homes mean new customers. Until the new plant west of Kaplan began operating, a strain was put on the North Vermilion plant. The building of the water plant went of Kaplan help provide water to the North Vermilion area.
Sellers pointed out that all of the water systems are tied in together, so if one goes out because of a hurricane, water can be diverted from another water system in the parish.