Operation of new water plant is undecided

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 18, 2003

FERRIDAY, La. &045; No one’s sure when a new water plant could open to serve the 8,000-plus customers of Concordia Waterworks District No. 1.

&uot;We’re working on getting the chemical dosage just right &045; and we’re getting pretty close,&uot; said system Manager Charles Renfrow. &uot;But whether (the opening of the plant) will be tomorrow or next week, I can’t tell you.&uot;

Construction began in May 1999 on the district’s new plant located near Lake St. John, which was supposed to be online by spring 2000.

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That opening was delayed because chemicals used to remove a brown tint from the water clogged the plant’s filters.

That reduced the time the plant could run without its filters being washed to only 12 hours, wasting water and costing the district extra money.

So district engineer Bryant Hammett suggested installing clarifiers at the plant. The devices would agitate the chemicals and prevent them from clogging the filter as quickly.

The clarifier, which cost $500,000 in state capital outlay money and $700,000 in U.S. Department of Agriculture funds, has since been installed, and those close to the project said it is doing its job.

Now, Renfrow’s task is to find the right mix of chemicals to treat the water, said project engineer Keith Capdepon.

After that is done, representatives of Virginia-based ONDEO, which supplied the clarifier, will visit the plant to make sure it is ready for operation.

Construction on the plant, which began back in May 1999, is more or less complete, and the $1.1 million clarifier is reportedly doing a fine job of removing the lake water’s harmless yet unappealing yellow hue.

But construction crews and plant personnel are busy with the minutiae that always seem to appear unexpectedly when any large undertaking is close to an end.

Meanwhile, wells at the Waterworks District’s existing water plant, which is located on Louisiana 15 near Deer Park, are still holding up well.

&uot;This (wet) weather has helped them out a lot&uot; by reducing water usage, Capdepon said.