USDA working to find water solutions

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 5, 2004

FERRIDAY , La. &045;&045; The next step in getting Ferriday a new water supply is crunching the numbers.

Michael Taylor, state director for USDA Rural Development, said Wednesday he is working with the town of Ferriday to get the town better water.

The USDA is working with community resource group and Jerry Lary, development management specialist, to &uot;take apart and put together (financial) numbers on the Ferriday system as it works now and if they would buy wholesale water,&uot; Taylor said. That group, Taylor said, is a nonprofit corporation that provides assistance in drinking water. Members want to find a solution that would mean cheaper and better water.

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Taylor said they are looking to see what the financial effects would be on both Ferriday if they bought water and the Concordia Waterworks District No. 1 if Ferriday bought water from them.

&uot;My feeling is we can do this in such a fashion it will be a win-win,&uot; Taylor said.

Taylor said he hopes to complete the number crunching within the next week or two.

Taylor said then they will put the data on the table for both Ferriday and Concordia Waterworks to decide.

If Ferriday were to hook up to Concordia Waterworks, more wells would have to be drilled and filters added to the existing plant.

But getting water from Concordia Water Works is not the only solution the USDA will be looking into, Taylor said.

Another option would be to see the cost of retrofitting the existing plant to maintain consistent water quality. As it stands now, the organic compounds in the water change with the temperature, sometimes causing the water to be the color of tea, as Taylor put it. Those changes &uot;makes it extremely difficult to treat and extremely expensive to treat,&uot; he said. The water facility does not have the ability to handle the changes that occur in the water supply. &uot;I don’t know of any other water system around that’s having to deal with that,&uot; Taylor said.

A third option would be for the town to drill its own well for a water supply. Ultimately, the solution will be the option &uot;which makes the most economic sense for the town to do,&uot; Taylor said.

The decision would ultimately rest on the town and the water district, Taylor said.

&uot;If it’s clear to us it’s best for Ferriday … I don’t have a problem making a recommendation either way,&uot; Taylor said.

If the town and water works district decide they are interested in entering into an agreement, the next step would be to drill test wells to make sure the water works’ aquifer can handle Ferriday’s approximately 2,000 customers.

Engineer Bryant Hammett could not be reached for comment Wednesday but said in March the geologist things the aquifer can sustain both entities.

Taylor said Mayor Glen McGlothin has helped lay the groundwork to find a solution to the water problem in Ferriday. In February, the USDA sent McGlothin and the town a letter saying they would help negotiate an arrangement between the town and Concordia Water Works. The USDA granted the town permission to use its more than $1 million grant and loan money originally allocated for repairs on their existing plant to be used to find another water source.