Ferriday residents can drink the water

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 22, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. — Health officials have made sure Ferriday’s water is safe, a Louisiana public health engineer said Wednesday — the same day the state lifted a boil-water notice in effect for the town for the last 124 days.

&uot;The town has completed the repairs we asked for at the (water)&160;plant, the chlorine in the water … looks good, and the water tested negative for coliform bacteria&uot; Wednesday, said Michael Dowty, sanitarian program coordinator for the Office of Public Health’s Alexandria office.

The agency will continue to monitor the town’s water system as stringently as it is now to help prevent such a crisis from happening in the future, he said.

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Mack McDonald, head sanitarian for Concordia Parish, will check daily the turbidity, or clarity, of the water the plant produces. Chlorine levels will be checked frequently and six water samples will be taken per month to check for coliform bacteria, Dowty said.

After water samples tested negative for such bacteria and Department of Health of Hospitals officials in New Orleans and Baton Rouge gave their approval, Dowty brought to Ferriday a document lifting the boil notice.

Since Mayor Odeal Montgomery — who would not comment — was at home sick Wednesday, Ferriday Town Hall employee Kathy Green, along with Dowty, signed the document at 1:43 p.m., officially lifting the boil order.

That afternoon, town hall employees faxed copies of the notice to local radio stations and Laribay Cablecomm, and police delivered copies to Ferriday businesses.

The boil notice was in effect for Ferriday’s more than 4,200 residents and dozens of businesses since Aug. 20, when the water plant kept shutting down, apparently due to lack of maintenance and operator error.

To get the notice lifted, crews had to complete dozens of repairs, from working on filters and chemical pumps and installing a new operations computer to making electrical improvements.

&uot;I&160;hope people will remember the efforts made by the parish as a whole … during this crisis, from Concordia Fire District No. 2 supplying water to the Sheriff’s Office sending prisoners to clean out water tanks,&uot;&160;said Morris White, the parish’s civil defense director.

Tanks filled with Vidalia water have been posted throughout town since the crisis began. White is attempting to get the Louisiana National Guard to keep the tanks in Ferriday until after Jan. 1.

&uot;I don’t think Y2K will affect the water system here, but it’s better to have the tanks here just in case,&uot;&160;White said.