New problems crop up at water plant

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 9, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. – For Ferriday’s three-week-old boil water notice to be lifted, the Office of Public Health has to take certain steps.

But first, the town must make repairs to the plant – and workers keep finding new maintenance problems that must be corrected.

For the notice to be rescinded, Public Health workers must make sure the town’s water plant is running correctly and properly chlorinating its water, and its water must meet state quality standards for three days.

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But for those steps to be taken, town crews, engineers, contractors and others working to improve the plant must make as many repairs and improvements to the plant as possible as soon as possible.

And when those water quality levels will be reached and plant improvements will be completed is still anyone’s guess, said Town Attorney John Sturgeon.

&uot;We try to solve every problem as we see it,&uot;&160;Sturgeon said. &uot;We’re trying to make sure we have the system as perfect as possible. Otherwise, we may have to do this (notice) again.&uot;

Those working on the plant keep finding maintenance problems that need to be fixed, Sturgeon said. For example, they have found cylinders rusted by condensation, and worn-out pumps for the storage units had to be replaced. Sturgeon said a lack of funds for maintenance and training was behind the plant’s complete shutdown Aug. 23, which left the town without water for more than two days.

In addition, Public Health looks closely at the system’s chlorine residue when determining whether to lift a notice, and the residue on the north end of town is still low. To fix that, the town is considering feeding chlorine into the water system at two more points.

A new computer to help operate the plant should arrive around Sept. 22, and engineers will then arrive to review the plant’s operations, Sturgeon said.

Engineering firm Owen & White has predicted that the plant’s maintenance needs will cost more than $350,000, money the town is trying to get from state grants. Two grants totaling $275,000 have been awarded; the third, a $112,400 award, has yet to be approved.

Personnel with ChemTreat Inc. are at the plant this week to find the proper dosage of chemicals to remove debris, make the water safe to drink and reduce magnesium in the water, said Tom Hennessy, a ChemTreat consultant.

Since the quality of the water that comes from Old River varies with the river level, the weather and other factors, ChemTreat workers usually have to visit the plant once a week to readjust chemical levels based on the water’s condition.

But since the plant shut down completely on Aug. 23, those workers have visited three times a week.

At the same time, workers are being trained intensively to make sure the system operates well in the future, Sturgeon said.