Leak leaves Sicily Island without water

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 21, 2000

SICILY ISLAND, La. — Workers at Sicily Island’s Shop-Rite grocery had to use bottled water to prepare breakfast at the store’s restaurant Wednesday morning. Public school children, meanwhile, were forced to stay home, all thanks to a leak in one of the town’s main water lines.

But as of noon Wednesday, a leak that caused the village to be without water Tuesday evening and early the next morning was fixed and water was flowing to the town’s 250-plus water customers.

The town’s two water employees — Supervisor Randall Branson and Robert Scott — worked Tuesday night on a leak that had been discovered in one of the town’s main water lines at the corner of Peck Avenue and Fourth Street. It was repaired, but broke again before morning.

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&uot;The water was back on at about 9 o’clock Tuesday night, but in the morning it was back off again,&uot; said Sicily Island Alderman Tim Ford. Mayor Anne Wycoff would not comment except to say that the leak was not an emergency and had been fixed.

Sicily Island public schools, which serve 350 students, were closed Wednesday. Students and parents were notified by radio and television. School district Maintenance Supervisor David Freeman said schools are scheduled to be open today.

Branson estimated it would take until early Wednesday evening to get water back up to full pressure because it takes about eight hours to fill the town’s 100,000-gallon water tank.

&uot;That’s because the town has two wells, but one of them isn’t working,&uot; Ford said. &uot;To fill a tank that big up with just one well takes a while.&uot;

Sherry Mickens, assistant manager at the town’s Shop-Rite Grocery, said employees had to use bottled water to prepare breakfast at the store’s restaurant. &uot;But the water was back on for us to use to make lunch, so we haven’t had that many problems,&uot; she said.

The town’s water system was installed in the 1950s, but some of the town’s lines were installed as recently as 10 years ago, said Oliver Schultz, the town’s grant consultant.

Still, some line repairs have been done by placing plastic pipe inside existing iron pipes — which makes leaks more difficult to repair, Branson said.

Branson said the leak was caused by dry, shifting ground — something that only more rainfall will fix.

&uot;So I can’t say that it won’t happen again,&uot; he said. &uot;In fact, another line will probably break at some point.&uot;

The problem of shifting ground is not unique to Catahoula Parish, however. Breaking water lines have been an almost constant problem throughout Concordia Parish since mid-summer due to near-drought conditions.