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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Water Department Looks To Future With New Building


Command center will improve city’s response to crisis

The city of Shreveport has acquired a building on West 70th Street that will become the new headquarters for the Water and Sewerage Department by the end of the year.

“This facility is like winning the lottery,” Director William Daniel said. “We could not have built this for $30 million, and probably not for $50 million, today.”

The property is a 62-acre campus with 25,360 square feet of furnished office space. The property also includes warehouse and storage space, a 31,668-square-foot maintenance facility and state-ofthe-art repair and wash bays for upkeep on city vehicles. Daniel said it also consists of a fully functioning laboratory where the water department can do any lab work it needs on-site.

The water department currently operates out of a building on Greenwood Road. Daniel said that structure no longer serves the department’s needs and has not for a long time.

“It’s in decrepit condition,” he said. “It was in decrepit condition about 60 years ago, and we’ve just been keeping it going. This represents a chance to move out of that aging infrastructure into a modern infrastructure where we can be more efficient in doing our jobs.”

Plans for the building include a new command center for emergency operations and training. The city’s Public Works Department also will utilize space in the building.

Daniel said that consolidating those departments in a modern facility with a command center will improve the city’s response to crises. He used the ice storm of February 2021 as an example.

“Normally, when there is impending natural disaster, like a freeze, what you do is gather ahead of time at a command facility, where all the decision-makers are in the room,” he said. “You have all the people with knowledge. So when problems start developing, you can resolve them.

“In that ice storm, we were scattered all over the city, communicating by cell phone. We were trying to patch people in and have group conversations. It’s difficult for me to do that when I don’t have maps, when I don’t have the info I need.

“If we’re in this command center, we are able to use the Geographic Information System (GIS) to effectively resolve whatever problems we are having, and you have confidence that you have the info to make a good decision. When you are all spread out, it’s difficult to get that understanding. That’s the whole purpose of a command center.”

Daniel said that Property Standards and Traffic are two other departments that plan to move into the new space in the future.

The state-of-the-art facility previously belonged to an oil and gas service company. The city bought the building out of bankruptcy court for $9.5 million, using funds from 2014 revenue bonds specifically allocated for this purpose.

“When I came to the city, my top priority was to get public works out of its current facilities,” Daniel said. “We were looking at land to build a building. We had a $12 million budget, and we were struggling to find something that would accommodate us all for that price. And that was before prices

went through the roof. We looked at two or three tracts, and all of a sudden we got a call to see this building. I said, ‘This is the building for us.’” Daniel said he is grateful to Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins and his administration for moving quickly to make that vision a reality.

“I congratulate the mayor for his vision in recognizing that we needed to get out of this facility, and speed at which he moved forward to purchase the new one.”

The move will be a win-win for everyone involved, he said.

“This is a great win for the city of Shreveport,” he said. “It’s a great win for our employees. They go to work in a facility that is very sub-par, yet they are out there every day, making things happen.

“I can’t overemphasize how this is going to improve morale. They can take care of business in a manner that allows them to feel like they are professional and appreciated. Not only is this building an upgrade to existing facilities, it’s also a morale booster. Together, that will translate into better services for the citizen of Shreveport.”


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