Pipe failure causes problems in Ferriday

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 23, 2010

FERRIDAY — After taking a two-month break from years of woes, Ferriday is back under a state of emergency because of the water plant.

The water is still safe to drink, but a pipe failure is undermining the foundation of the plant, Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin said.

The pipe in question is the plant backwash line, which runs under the floor and apparently collapsed there earlier this week, Water Supervisor Gregory Griggs said.

“Monday, the operator called me and said that water was backing into the plant,” Griggs said. “The drain is good but the under drain has caved in. After 20 years of backwashing, chlorine and potassium permanganate is corrosive.”

The backwash line isn’t for treated water, and so the quality of the town’s drinking water will not be affected.

Because the drain isn’t working, water is backing into the plant and under the foundation, a combination McGlothin said is hazardous because it could cause electrical equipment to short out or — if the foundation collapses — could break off the water lines that feed into the treatment facility, effectively killing Ferriday’s water service.

“It is never anything small with Ferriday,” he said. “It always has to be damned dramatic.”

Because the mayor already declared a state of emergency, he said the town accepted emergency repair bids Thursday and will award the job to the low bidder today and get repair work started as quickly as possible.

The new line, rather than running under the floor, will cross the plant floor and exit through a wall before taking the water into the backwash pond, Griggs said.

The repair work will likely run the town a bill upward of $20,000, McGlothin said.

Whether the town will receive any state aid — as it did when it had to do emergency repairs to its water intake structure earlier this year — is unknown.

“I am going to ask for help, but they may want to cry wolf on me,” McGlothin said. “You can’t know until they ask, but if they don’t it is going to come out of our general fund.”

The latest situation only emphasizes the need for the town to build a new water plant, the mayor said.

The papers for the U.S. Department of Agriculture loan that will finance the new plant are being finalized at a state level, and will then be sent for federal approval, McGlothin said.