Ferriday mayor shares good, bad news about water supply

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 10, 2010

FERRIDAY — Fixing Ferriday’s water woes hasn’t been easy from the get-go, so why would final steps be any different?

Mayor Glen McGlothin got good news and bad news this week as town employees worked to switch from the old, deteriorating tank to a brand new one.

First should come the good news, McGlothin says.

Pipes to the new tank have been installed and final hookup work should be completed today.

One water quality test has already been sent off for approval from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, and a second will be hand-delivered Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.

Results from both tests must come back clean before water from the new tank can be pumped into area houses and businesses and the nearly year-old boil-water notice can be lifted.

McGlothin is optimistic about the tests; final results should be available in 9 to 10 days.

Water was temporarily shut off last night in order to test for leaks in the water tank. Resdents are asked to use water conservatively today, avoiding car washes or other such unnecessary tasks so the tank can fill completely.

And then there is the bad news.

In the process of preparing the new tank this week, water department workers discovered another pre-existing problem that could leave the town water-less and facing another million-dollar bill.

The trestle bridge that extends into Old River and supports the suction line funneling water into the town’s tank is in bad shape and could fall soon.

A stress fracture in the bridge was cited in 2007, but needed repairs apparently weren’t made, McGlothin said.

McGlothin took office in 2008.

When the damaged bridge was discovered earlier this week, the town began seeking help from bridge experts around the state.

McGlothin estimated that the repairs needed right now would cost $200,000.

But damage to the bridge will continue daily as water is pumped through the line and into the town.

“The load is 44,000 pounds on that line,” McGlothin said. “One line is the only thing holding it up out of the water. If it falls, we are out of the water business altogether.

“A lack of maintenance has caused a heck of a problem.”

If the bridge falls, estimated repair costs are $1.2 million.

McGlothin said he is asking for emergency money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repair the damage before it gets worse.

A Louisiana Development Block Grant may eventually fund final repairs.

Right now the bridge is leaning at a 45-degree angle, McGlothin said. Crews have changed their routine maintenance to avoid putting any additional weight on the bridge.