River seeps through ground in Vidalia

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 19, 2008

VIDALIA — As the Mississippi River continues to rise, the water is seemingly not content to stay in the river, and has begun to work its way through the ground and saturate some residential lots in Vidalia.

Martin Luther King Jr. Drive resident Carolyn Brown said the water has worked its way into her yard, but that there is not a lot that can be done about it until the river goes down.

That is because the incredible amount of water coming down the river has raised the ground water table, Fifth Levee District Board Member Barry Maxwell said.

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“Any time the river gets up like it is not, that’s common,” Maxwell said. “It’s called seep water.”

The raised water table will not likely affect the City of Vidalia’s water quality, Utilities Superintendent Mark Morace said.

“The only difference is that we could pump a few more gallons per minute if we wanted to, but we keep it at a constant for treatment purposes,” Morace said.

The city has two wells on the Vidalia riverfront, and one of them has been sandbagged for safety purposes, Morace said.

“If it got flooded it could short out our electrical, but we’ve got it pretty well protected,” he said. “They’re high and dry.”

The levee board is not overly concerned about the seepage water coming through the ground as long as it is clear, Maxwell said.

“We get concerned about water on the protected side of the levee when that water shows up murky or dirty,” Maxwell said. “When we see that we get concerned about sand boils.”

Sand boils occur when the water pressure exerted by the river forcefully pushes water through the ground, displacing soil under the levees.

The levee board fights sand boils by building a well of sand bags around the boil until the water pressure built up in the well equalizes with that of the river, thus stopping soil displacement.

“The most problematic sand boil we have in Concordia Parish is on the back side of Lake St. John,” Maxwell said. “It has been bagged and so far there is no problem with it.”

The river is expected to stand at 56.7 feet this morning, and is projected to crest at 57 feet Monday. Fifty-seven would be the second highest crest on record.