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Ferriday under water advisory

FERRIDAY — While high water levels in the Mississippi River were causing problems for Concordia Parish earlier in the summer, the Town of Ferriday found itself in hot water due to a declining river level Thursday.

The town was placed on a boil-water advisory Thursday morning, while Ferriday officials combated more problems at the town’s old water plant.

“It’s a simple fact. Every time the water table goes down, we have some trouble with the pumps,” Mayor Glen McGlothin said. “We have everything fixed, but we have to send samples to be tested for quality and safety purposes. So until then, we are under the boil advisory.”

The mayor said the results will be back today, and that the town should have the advisory lifted by the afternoon.

McGlothin said every year during the months of August and September, the low water level in the Mississippi River creates problems for the town’s aging water plant.

“It is getting hard to treat it,” he said. “Spending money on a 23-year-old plant that is in need of maintenance is not something you like to do.”

McGlothin said because of the low water levels, the plant’s filters and pumps start to treat less water and more organic material that sits on top of the river.

“That is hard for the pumps to treat,” he said. “When one of those pumps goes down, the filters get shut down too, and it just turns into an ordeal.”

McGlothin said this problem could be avoided if the town were to move away from the river as a water source and toward using wells.

“That is what we plan on doing with the new water plant we have been working on since I took office,” he said.

Ferriday has had problems with its water plant and water meters for years, leaving a large hole in the town’s bank account due to lack of payments for water services received.

The Louisiana Rural Water Association revealed in a study that approximately 70 percent of the town’s water meters do not work properly.

McGlothin and the town have been working to fix the town’s 20-year-old water problem through a new water plant funded by a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Before the town could receive the grant, the USDA required that a third party must be selected by Ferriday to come in and oversee the daily operation of the new water plant due to Ferriday’s failure to provide proper maintenance and operation of the plant they currently have.

The board of aldermen voted in April to approve JCP Management of Harrisonburg to oversee the plant as the third party operator.

McGlothin said the town finally has its third party contract agreement in place, and that work on the plant should begin soon.

“Hopefully that was the last nail in the coffin so we can start working on getting our new meters and starting the plant,” he said. “This is taking a lot longer than we would have liked, but we have to follow very strict rules and regulations, and I understand why. This is drinking water we are talking about.”

McGlothin said by October the town should receive approval on the contract, and then Ferriday can begin installing the new meters.

“The meters are the next step,” he said. “Then we have to test the wells we want, and begin on the plant.”

McGlothin said the meters should take approximately 90 days to complete when work is started.

“These are going to be all completely new meters on a completely new system,” he said.

McGlothin said if things continue as scheduled, the town should start work on the new plant at the start of 2012.