If you find yourself traveling down US Highway 371 in South Webster Parish in Northwest Louisiana, you may stumble upon a small community with a rich history of cypress trees, sawmills, and railroads. According to sibleyla.com, this area is known as the friendly town of Sibley. The town has a population of approximately 1,218, and most of the citizens can be found pulling a boat into the lake or sitting around reminiscing about their childhood fishing days.  

The friendly people of Sibley, Louisiana rely on the Union Grove Water System (UGWS), Inc. for their safe drinking water. UGWS started in Sibley in 1968, in cooperation with the US Department of Agriculture, to provide a source of drinking water for the Penal Farm Road community of Sibley. UGWS owns and operates the drinking water facility, and Winwood Sewer District #1 owns and operates the sewer system. 

Welcome sign in Sibley Louisiana a town that needed updates to their water system
The welcome sign in Sibley, LA. Union Grove Water System operates the water system in Sibley and worked with CU to clean a tank that, according to records, hadn't been cleaned since 1968.

Prior to 1968, the only way that individuals could obtain water was from the individual property-owned 75-foot-deep wells. However, most of these wells went dry every summer when the water table receded. The property owners were responsible for digging, maintaining, and treating the water, so the community started to decline in growth.  

The Union Grove Water System has a 70,000-gallon water storage tank but cannot find evidence that it has ever been inspected or cleaned. Regulations require the tank to go through an inspection every three to five years, in order to make sure that the water system is providing safe drinking water to its customers.

The tank was built in 1968 and rests on the ground level at the main plant. Any repairs will be in addition to the cleaning and inspection estimates. To remove the primary tank from service, UGWS must install bypass plumbing and have a temporary tank installed.  

In July of 2022, Communities Unlimited (CU),  and Louisiana State Coordinator Chris Brunson visited UGWS and discussed with the system treasurer funding options to correct the issues to the ground storage tank. Chris discussed local and CU loan funding options with the system treasurer to correct the ground storage issues. During the next few weeks, CU worked with Union Grove Water System to connect them with Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) to assist with finding sources of funds to comply with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations to make the needed repairs to the ground storage tank.  

On October 7, 2022, CU assisted with the administrative work needed on the approval notice of the loan. The next few weeks consisted of paperwork and Zoom meetings, and on December 1, 2022, CU received an email from UGWS’s clerk that the repairs were finished.  

Now that Union Grove Water System has a clean and improved tank, they can ensure that they provide the community in Sibley, Louisiana with safe and clean drinking water moving forward