River levels affecting sewage lines

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 27, 2010

VIDALIA — It has fallen below flood stage, but the seasonally high Mississippi River is causing some problems to local infrastructure.

The river is expected to stand at 42.9 feet this morning, more than 10 feet above the historic average level for the river at this time of year.

According to information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the historic stage for this date is approximately 32 feet.

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The high river water has pushed into the groundwater table, which has in turn worked its way through fissures in the aging sewer mains on the north side of Vidalia, Utility Director Mark Morace said.

To address the problems caused by the excess water in the sewer, the city has created a temporary, above-ground force main connected to a temporary sewer lift station to help relieve the pressure on the system.

The bright blue pipes run along Linden Street, down Louisiana Avenue and across Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to Miller Street, where the lift station is located, Morace said.

The pipes go temporarily underground at the Louisiana Martin Luther King Jr. Drive crossing.

Because the situation is tied to the future behavior of the river, the temporary sewer solution could be utilized through the spring, Morace said.

The city has applied for LCDBG funds to put a new liner in the sewer mains on the north side of town, which would stop the water from entering the lines.

“Once we get the lines with a new liner, that will get everything back working,” Morace said.

The utility department will also be upgrading the motor and shield sizes in the lift station that is currently being overloaded so that it will have a better pumping capacity, he said.

According to river forecasts provided by the National Weather Service, the river is expected to fall until Monday before beginning another slight rise, standing at 42.6 feet by Tuesday.

Flood stage at the Natchez-Vidalia pass is 48 feet.