DERIDDER, LA (KPLC) - The Beauregard Parish Police Jury has been working on changes to their "Oil and Pipeline Ordinance," for five months. One of the main changes residents would like to see is the use of "fracking" - a method where water is injected into the earth at high pressure to help extract oil and gas.
"We don't really stand to gain anything by having fracking wells come in," said Bonnie McElroy.
Concerned residents sounded off. James Evans is a fruit farmer from Ruston. He has been farming on the same piece of land since 1988 and selected the land because of the creek that runs through the property.
According to Evans the water in the creek is supplied from four springs north of Ruston. He says fracking by oil companies in that are depleted the water supply in his creek.
"This last June for the first time in history of that area the creek dried up. My concern in being here today is because water is becoming more and more valuable commodity for the community and it will be here too," said Evans.
Wilma Subra with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) explains chemicals are also added in the process making it nearly non-reusable.
"Now when you use this water for hydraulic fracturing it's wasted. It's removed from the water cycle and disposed of. They're talking a little bit about recycling some but for the most part it's never rejuvenated back into the cycle," explained Subra.
The Police Jurors said they share those same concerns and are working to strengthen the ordinance.
"It's about a 20 year old ordinance. A little out of date," said Llewellyn "Biscuit" Smith.
Smith said they want to be business friendly but first and foremost have the parish's best interest at heart.
"If there is an increase of traffic, we don't want permits running rampant. We want to make sure that when an oil company comes in here that we are user-friendly. We want to make sure they are able to work, but we don't want to lose track of them. We also want them to know they have to follow our ordinances. They have certain roads they can use and must pay to use and repair those roads. We have a lot of changes that are going to be put into the updated ordinance," said Smith.
The Beauregard Parish Police Jury plans to have a public meeting with all the stakeholders later this month regarding changes to the ordinance and expects to vote on the changes in early February. In order for it to pass it will need six out of 10 votes.