No end to water crisis in sight

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 23, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. – Almost 100 days after a boil-water notice was issued for Ferriday, staffers at Heritage Manor Nursing Home are still hauling water for drinking and preparing meals and buying 30 bags of ice a day.

&uot;It’s getting to be a backache as well as a headache,&uot;&160;said Tommy Massey, administrator of Heritage Manor, which has 83 residents.

But today, the town is one step closer to getting state officials to lift a boil-water notice in effect for the town’s 1,600-plus water customers since Aug. 20.

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The Office of Public Health has given Ferriday a list of improvements to be made to the water system before the state can consider lifting the notice.

Some, like repairing chemical pumps and filters, have been done. Most of what remains to be done is checking to make sure the water plant’s electrical system is performing correctly.

&uot;(Health officials) have said that once we’re done, they will be ready to come in,&uot; Town Attorney John Sturgeon said. &uot;But we don’t know when the work could be finished, because we don’t know what other problems we could run into.&uot;

Before officials can lift the notice, they must visit the plant once needed repairs are made. During the visit, they 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 saying unboiled water is safe to drink.

On Tuesday, Rotating Technologies of Monterey was doing maintenance work on the plant’s backwash pump – which pumps water to wash out the filters. Miss-Lou Electric of Vidalia was working on electrical connections to the chemical pumps.

For the third time this month, crews are also forcing high volumes of water through the town’s water pipes to flush sludge out of the system, a step that must also be done before the notice can be lifted.

Many improvements – repairing chemical pumps, adding new beads to filters to take debris from the water and servicing valves on the structure that draws water from Old River – have already been done.

Customers should still not use unboiled water for anything but bathing and flushing toilets. And those with open wounds or compromised immune systems should not bathe in the water.