Ferriday must work quickly

Published 10:32 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2009

While federal regulators sort through the billions of dollars of mortgage-backed derivatives at the heart of the national financial meltdown, Ferriday is struggling with a much more simple issue — how to get clean water.

It’s sadly ironic that the town faced the exact same issue 10 years ago. It seemed like the town was located in a third-world country back in 1999 when the last months-long boil-water notice was issued and National Guard troops rolled into town bringing with trucks of drinking water.

The conditions at the town’s water plant are horrendous. Damage to the plant’s water tank has left the tank open to the elements. Plant operators purposely overflow the water in a futile attempt to float out any impurities that might fall in — literally.

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The result is that water fills the area around the building and much of the floor inside the plant, too.

Ferriday is stuck in a catch-22 situation. It doesn’t have the funds on its own to fix the plant and the water system is so screwed up that the purity of the water is only half the battle.

Part of the problem with funding is that almost none of the city’s water meters work so for years, residents say the city charges erratic fees for water. The last year for which statistics were calculated showed the town lost more than $100,000 in revenue due to broken water meters.

The whole system is a mess and, honestly, no easy way out is in sight. Ferriday leaders must work quickly to get the system fixed, working with state bond money or grants if available. Something must be done before someone gets hurt due to less than sanitary water conditions there.