Lawyer seeks order for water plant

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 4, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. – The attorney for a Ferriday water customer suing the town and its engineers said his request for a protective order will not stop crews from repairing and upgrading the town’s water plant.

&uot;This will not stop the work at the plant,&uot;&160;said Chuck Norris of Vidalia, attorney for plaintiff Gloria Martello. &uot;All we’re trying to do is preserve evidence.&uot;

The motion is set to be heard Nov. 17 in Seventh Judicial District Court. If granted, it would stop anyone from destroying or altering any parts, computer data or records at the water plant until the suit Martello filed on Oct. 25 is resolved.

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Under the order, if health, environmental or law enforcement officials determined that such things must be removed from the plant to protect public health, Martello’s lawyers and investigators would have to be allowed to inspect such parts first.

But in a letter drafted Thursday, town attorney John Sturgeon asked Martello’s attorneys to withdraw their motion for a protective order, calling requests made in the motion &uot;inconceivable.&uot;

&uot;(You) request that the town not be allowed to alter, change or remove any component of the water plant,&uot;&160;Sturgeon said. &uot;The potential for putting the court’s schedule delays into (plant repairs) could delay repairs and improvements to the water plant.&uot;

He said the town &uot;has made all repairs, improvements and restored water service as fast as possible.&uot;

In her complaint, Martello, a Ferriday resident and owner of Brocato’s Restaurant, said the town’s water problems have caused its water customers undue stress and inconvenience. The suit charges that negligence of the town and its engineering firm, Owen and White of Baton Rouge, caused Ferriday to be placed under a boil water notice Aug. 20. The notice has still not been lifted.

Meanwhile, crews started flushing out Ferriday’s water lines Wednesday night – a step that must be done before state health officials can consider lifting the boil water notice.

The process could cause the town’s water to darken, but most flushing will be done from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., when water usage is low. Flushing the lines would probably take several days.