Guard’s water tanks to leave Ferriday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 23, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. – &uot;When the National Guard pulls its water tanks out of Ferriday, I’ll go back to using the town’s water,&uot;&160;Ferriday restaurant owner Gloria Martello said Wednesday. &uot;I’ll have to.&uot;

Now she and her fellow residents and business owners in Ferriday won’t have a choice.

Since state officials lifted Ferriday’s 124-day boil water notice Wednesday, the Louisiana National Guard was set to pull its water tanks out of the town Thursday night or today, Morris White, Concordia Parish’s civil defense director, said Thursday.

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Ever since the Louisiana Office of Public Health placed a boil-water notice, the National Guard’s 773 Maintenance Battallion had filled several tanks with water from Vidalia.

The tanks were placed at all of Ferriday’s public schools, its nursing homes and a health clinic in north Ferriday so people could fill water jugs for free instead of buying bottled water.

Now public health officials have said the water is clear, chlorinated and free of coliform bacteria – in other words, safe for all uses.

&uot;The National Guard’s mission was to provide Ferriday with safe, clean drinking water during this notice, and that mission is now completed,&uot;&160;White said.

But although the tanks and the personnel that manned them are being pulled back to Alexandria, they will be on standby in the unlikely event that power problems cause Ferriday’s water plant to fail.

&uot;We don’t expect that to happen, but we’d like to have a backup just in case,&uot;&160;said White, who lobbied the State Office of Emergency Preparedness to keep the tanks in Ferriday until after Jan. 1.

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.