Ferriday water not clean yet

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 8, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. – Hauling water to her home from Ferriday High School has been a part of daily life for Tracie Skipper for almost three weeks now, ever since a boil water notice was issued for the town.

&uot;I haven’t heard anything about when they plan to lift (the notice),&uot;&160;Skipper said. &uot;Until then, I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing.&uot;

Local officials themselves do not know when the boil water notice will be lifted but said that crews are working steadily to make sure that customers will be able to drink their water as soon as possible.

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&uot;They’re close to getting it together, … but there’s no way I&160;know exactly when that notice would be lifted,&uot;&160;said Morris White, civil defense director for Concordia Parish.

On Aug. 20, the Office of Public Health asked the town to issue a boil notice due to shutdowns at the plant. The plant shut down Aug. 23, so the next day the office issued its own notice. The notices restrict customers to using unboiled town water for toilet flushing and waste disposal only.

Town Attorney John Sturgeon, who has been working long hours to help get the plant working correctly, would not estimate when the notice could be lifted.

&uot;The water quality is good now, but they need to hold that quality for several days before the Health Department will let them release the notice,&uot; White said. &uot;We’d hate to lift it and then something get into the water and we have to bring the National Guard back again.&uot;

When the town has finished adjusting the water quality, the Office of Public Health will make sure the plant is running correctly and properly chlorinating its water.

The office will then test the water to make sure it is free of bacteria before telling the public that unboiled water is safe to drink, said Bob Johannessen of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

Some residents have said that the town’s water, which is drawn from Old River and is smelly and brown due to a high manganese content, looks the cleanest it has been in two to three years, White said.

Still, that does not mean that the notice should be lifted before its time.

&uot;When you lift the boil order, you’re saying the water is good for whatever you want to use it for,&uot; White said.

Those working to get the town’s water quality to consistently measure up to state standards include town employees, engineers, state public health workers and Louisiana Rural Water Association personnel.