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Photograph: Bill Rodier CEO of the St. Landry Parish Economic Development District explains the important of the new water treatment plant located off Interstate 49 south of Opelousas. (Photograph by Bobby Ardoin.)

Editor/Consulting Writer

The initial completion phase of a water treatment facility capable of significantly sustaining the development and economic growth south of Opelousas was recognized on Friday by state, parish and municipal officials during a brief ceremony.

Capable at this point of handling a 150,000-gallon daily capacity, the plant site located off Interstate 49 was described by one St. Landry Parish economic district official as a backbone project necessary for handling commercial and residential development that continues to expand.

“This is a new beginning and an integral part of our economic growth,” said Opelousas Mayor Julius Alsandor.

Although the plant is located on city property and will be operated and maintained by municipal work crews, Bill Rodier, CEO for the St. Landry Economic and Development District said the multi-million facility was completed due to a collaboration from state, parish and Opelousas officials.

“The treatment plant is the culmination of four years of work by the various economic boards and our state legislative delegation. It’s also a good example of everyone coming together and making something work.

“What’s also important is that the plant will be able to handle this economic growth that is coming like a tidal wave towards Opelousas down I-49,” Rodier said during an interview.

Ground-breaking for the treatment plant began last summer.

Match funding for the project, Rodier said, was obtained through the effort of state lawmakers Dustin Miller and Gerald Boudreaux and Central St. Landry Economic District.

The Central St. Landry Economic District includes an area of businesses located on Guilbeau Road and I-49. The District has been collecting an extra penny sales tax in order to provide services such as improved lighting at I-49 intersections, grass cutting, litter mitigation and economic development projects such as the water treatment plant.

Rodier added that the treatment plant has been on-line for the past week.

Additionally, according to Rodier, the treatment plant has also reduced the stress that has been placed on the city’s current water treatment operation.

The treatment plant located on a one acre tract cost about $3 million, Rodier said.

However there are subsequent plans to add as many as four stations at locations in the Guilbeau Road area that would increase the overall cost of the project to about $4.5 million, said Rodier.

“This treatment plant can be easily expanded and it’s designed to increase capacity,” Rodier pointed out.

The Opelousas Board of Aldermen has already approved the annexation of property along I-49 that includes the construction of a Luv’s Truck Stop and a large residential development located off Guilbeau Road and behind Giles Automotive.