Water Fights: Bossier City’s New Municipal Water Supply, 1959

A bond had already passed in 1956 allowing for the city to build its water treatment plant. The bond had passed after the distribution of false information, claimed Ned Touchstone of the “Bossier Press,” citing a statement issued prior to the bond vote that the water would not be taken from the Red River. Instead, it was purported to be taken from deep wells near the river, stating that would avoid some of the salt content in the river.

Mr. Touchstone’s newspaper led the fight to halt construction of the new water system, with the main argument against it being the City of Dallas’ problems with using Red River water for its city water. Newspapers around the country reported on the problem of Dallas’ salty city water in 1955 and 1956, following a drought going back to the late 1940’s.

On Thursday, May 7, 1959, Touchstone reported that there was a “secret attempt” to switch Bossier to the Red River water. He remarked that it was no longer secret thanks to his investigating and to the tastebuds of “Bossier housewives:”

More than a score of them [housewives] had called the “Bossier Press” during the last three days to complain about the “different, flatter taste [of the city water]. At 8 a.m. Wednesday, a “Bossier Press” representative drove to the new water plant and found it in full operation. An employee at that plant protested that it wasn’t in use, ‘but we’re just running the machines to get used to running them.’” Touchstone reported that at 9:15, the Shreveport water commissioner also would not disclose if Bossier had discontinued its water purchase, but at 4 pm, Bossier City Mayor Jake Cameron confirmed that, “the practice of mixing relatively small amounts of Red River water with Cross Lake water had been discontinued in favor of the new source.”

A story in the May 10, 1959, “Bossier Tribune” confirmed that the “Water Link with Shreveport is Severed April 28.” Bossier City’s Commissioner of Finance and Utilities, Clyde W. Fowler announced that the city’s $1,150,000 water plant had gone into fulltime operation and that calls he was receiving were favorable on the taste and quality of the water. He added that unlike Shreveport, there isn’t an algae problem with the water source. A photo in the issue showed city officials making a “Toast to a New Era,” as they sipped glasses of water processed through the new plant.

The article also announced the official dedication ceremonies for the treatment facility to be held on May 23rd, followed by an open house with tours of the new plant. Another announcement of the dedication proclaimed that “hill-billy singer” Jimmy Davis (former Louisiana Governor) would be there for entertainment. Current Governor, Earl Long, was invited as guest of honor but sent his regrets. Mayor Jake Cameron was to slash the ribbon.

The plant was said to be deemed a “model of its kind in the South” by engineers and was featured in the November, 1959, issue of the “American City,” a national trade magazine for municipalities. Bossier City was the first municipality to source its water from the Red River.

Does your family have any photos, letters, or other items relating to early infrastructure of Bossier City? The History Center would also like to expand our collection of fire department and police department material. If you have photographs, papers, uniforms, or other items, please consider donating them to the History Center or simply making them available to us to scan. Contact us at 318-746-7717 or email history-center@bossierlibrary.org or visit us at 2206 Beckett St., Bossier City. We are open: M-Th 9-8, Fri 9-6, and Sat 9-5. For other intriguing facts, photos, and videos, be sure to follow us @BPLHistoryCenter on FB, @bplhistorycenter on TikTok, and check out our blog http://bpl-hc.blogspot.com/.



  • “Toast to a New Era,” from the Bossier Tribune, Sunday, May 10, 1959
  • Headline, “Water is On!” from the front page of the Bossier Press, Thursday, May 07, 1959

Article by: Pam Carlisle