Water slows construction at Ferriday water plant

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 19, 2009

FERRIDAY — It’s ironic, but work at the Ferriday water plant has slowed because of water.

Construction crews have been working to install the new water tank at the water plant, which will ultimately result in the lifting of the seven-month-old boil water notice the town’s water customers have been under.

Recent rains that have saturated the ground around the plant, however, have delayed that work.

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“Everything is on go,” Mayor Glen McGlothin said. “We are just waiting for the weather.”

The construction crews have gotten the area surveyed, built an access road, staked out the site and even dug the holes for the forms.

“The problem is they can’t pour any concrete or set any forms until the water gets off the ground,” Ferriday Water Superintendent Gregory Griggs said.

The tank is what is crucial to getting the boil order lifted. The order was originally placed because the extant tank has a large breach in it, and Department of Health and Hospitals protocol requires a boil-water order when the water system is exposed to the elements.

Other work at the plant — for example, repairing all the filters — has been done in the interim.

“The plant is working fine, we have it up and running and if we had the tank in we wouldn’t have any problems,” McGlothin said.

The new tank is being pre-fabricated offsite and will be brought in and assembled once the forms are completed at the plant.

When everything is completed at the plant, McGlothin said the town will have to buy all new water meters so it can accurately measure how much water is being used.

Approximately 500 of the 1,900 meters the town has now don’t work properly, and McGlothin said generating accurate billings will help the town pay for the next phase of water improvement — building a new plant that runs off of wells rather than drawing water from Old River, which has high levels of organic matter and manganese in it.

“The new meters are going to be really important, because you have to have a way to pay (loans) back, and that’s how we’re going to do it, with the new meters,” he said.

An audit of the water system taken in 2008 estimated the town would generate an additional $300,000 a year with accurate billing.

In the meantime, McGlothin said he will continue to work to keep the potable water tanks brought in by the National Guard — often referred to as “water buffalos” — in the town. The deadline ending their use in Ferriday is approaching.

“We’re hoping to keep those buffalos until January, because it looks like January until we will get (the tank) in,” McGlothin said.

Camo Construction of Vidalia was awarded the bid for the new tank at a cost of $476,000.