Town takes steps to avoid second crisis

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 27, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. – Ferriday’s town attorney thinks he has found the reason why a switch regulating the washing of the town’s water plant filter system was overridden, which caused mud to clog filters and caused the plant to shut down Monday.

Ferriday’s plant retains water in a tank to wash debris from its filter system. When little water is available, a switch shuts off water to the town to retain enough water for washing filters.

But engineer Roy Waggenspack of the firm Owen and White told the Ferriday Town Council Thursday that someone had overridden the switch by tying in down with a rope.

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Apparently the switch had been malfunctioning, causing it to switch on even when the tank was full, Town Attorney John Sturgeon said.

&uot;I’m assuming that’s why it was tied down,&uot;&160;Sturgeon said, adding that he does not know how the switch was overridden.

Repair of the backwash system, at an estimated cost of $8,000, is included in the grant application the town submitted to the state. Meanwhile, two operators will be on hand in case the switch malfunctions again.

Waggenspack also said Thursday that someone had glued together the plastic beads used to filter large debris from the water the town pumps from Old River.

When water finally did break through the beads, it did so with enough force to bust screens located over the filter. In its grant application, the town is also asking for $8,000 to replace the beads and screens.

Waggenspack did not give possible reasons that someone would have glued the beads together, and neither he nor town officials would say who could have done it.

Town officials have applied for $387,400 from the state to update equipment throughout the plant. They hope to find out by Tuesday whether the town has gotten the first grant, $50,000 from the Governor’s Office of Rural Development.

Also Friday, Sturgeon outlined some steps town officials are taking to prevent a crisis like Monday’s water plant shutoff from happening again.

Before the shutdown, only one of the plant’s four operators was on duty at any one time.

On Friday, town officials were working out a schedule that would put two operators at the plant at all times for the next seven to 10 days.

&uot;I can’t tell anyone this won’t happen again, because I cannot predict the future,&uot;&160;said Mayor Odeal Montgomery said. &uot;But (town officials) plan to do everything we can.&uot;