Miss-Lou water supply is long lasting

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 27, 2008

NATCHEZ — You likely have something major in common with the dinosaurs — your drinking water.

And that’s something to be thankful for, Natchez Water Works Superintendent David Gardner said.

It was the rains that fell when dinosaurs roamed the earth that created the aquifer that now protects Natchez and Adams County from the perils of drought.

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That rainwater gradually filtered through the soil and settled approximately 1,000 feet down into the Miocene Aquifer — the county’s water supply.

“It’s an astronomical amount,” he said. “It would take the county thousands of years to use all the water in there.”

And not only is the county’s water well-stocked, its also exceptionally clean.

The water is pumped from beneath the surface, the carbon dioxide is removed and a small amount of chlorine is added for cleanliness.

“That’s it,” Gardner said. “This water needs very little treatment. It’s pretty much good to go as soon as it comes out of the ground.”

The bond with the dinosaurs separates the area from the situation in parts of Georgia and Alabama that faced severe droughts this summer, and are closely watching the winter weather in hopes that the coming hot months will be better.

Georgia’s state climatologist and professor of engineering and atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia David Stooksbury said the situation in Georgia is dire.

This winter is critical for the future for the state.

“What we need now is enough steady rain to recharge our supply,” he said. “It’s critical for the coming summer.”

Stooksbury said that the north half of Georgia is in an exceptional drought.

He said that type of event typically occurs about once every 100 years.

So while the state waits for the skies to open, residents are heavily involved in conservation efforts.

Watering of outside gardens and lawns has been banned and local municipalities have been asked to cut water usage by up to 10 percent, Stooksbury said.

That won’t happen in Natchez, Adams County or Concordia Parish, area officials said.

General Manager for the Adams County Water Association Kenneth Herring and Gardner both agreed that the chance for a drought in the county would be very rare since the county’s water is enormous and does not depend on outside sources to be recharged.

The situation just across the river is equally as good.

In Vidalia, the water source is not the Mississippi River, though the river does indirectly play into it.

The city has three wells located on the banks of the river, the three brick enclosures just south of the bridge.

Instead of drawing water from the river, though, those wells reach 300 feet into the ground into a water bearing sand aquifer, Superintendent of Utilities Mark Morace said.

Though the aquifer has its own source, being next to the river it is being constantly replenished, Morace said.

For the Ferriday water system, the source is much more direct — it is surface water pumped from Old River through in intake structure at Marengo Bend.

There is little danger of that source of water ever running out, Ferriday Water Plant Supervisor Gregory Griggs said.

If it does run low, however, the main concern is not about running out of water, but rather how much it is treated, he said.

“We have to increase our (treatment) dosage if the water gets low,” he said. “There will be a lot of impurities in it and we would get more flotsam in the water.”

Where the river stands right now, the treatment plant doesn’t even have to use the optimum chemical dosage for water purification, Griggs said.

So while water quality is a concern that comes along with dry weather, quantity is not, he said.

“As long as we have water in the Mississippi, we will have water here,” he said.