Hurricane affects Ferriday water problems

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, August 31, 2011

FERRIDAY — Water was expected to be on in Ferriday this morning, and Mayor Glen McGlothin was hopeful Tuesday it would stay that way.

A more permanent solution won’t be in place until sometime Monday, though, so residents are still asked to conserve the water they have.

Ferriday area schools will remain closed today.

Email newsletter signup

One of two water clarifiers at the town’s ailing water plant stopped working Saturday. The other clarifier is not working at full strength.

McGlothin was originally hopeful the needed parts to repair the clarifiers would have arrived by Tuesday, but troubles continued instead.

“Apparently the town is under a bad sign,” McGlothin said. “The only company that has what we need is in Rhode Island. Do you know what happened in Rhode Island this weekend?”

The state was one of several eastern states hit hard by Hurricane Irene. McGlothin said due to the storm the company with the parts Ferriday needs was unable to ship them.

McGlothin said he and experts from JCP Management, the company that will soon take over the water plant and run the new one, have searched for the needed parts everywhere and been unable to find them.

They even found two water plants in Louisiana that were similar to the Ferriday one, hoping they’d have parts; however both plants have been shut down and replaced.

The Rhode Island shipment should be coming now, though, McGlothin said, for a Friday arrival.

Ferriday, through partnerships with the state and U.S. legislative delegations, is working to arrange for the truck carrying the parts to be escorted across southern states to avoid further delays.

Once the parts arrive, crews will work 24-hour shifts to get the parts installed.

In the meantime, McGlothin believes the tanks at the water plant have been filled enough to last through the weekend.

The town intentionally shut off water for five hours Tuesday and again overnight in order to fill the tanks.

Now is not the time to water the grass or fill up a swimming pool, though, the mayor said.

Water problems are nothing new in Ferriday, and the town has put in place a plan to replace the 20-year-old water plant.

The latest woes are the result of low water levels in the river that feeds the plant. McGlothin said because of the low water levels, the plant’s filters and pumps start to treat less water and more organic material that sits on top of the river.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded Ferriday a $6 million grant for the plant, which will be privately operated by JCP.

McGlothin said rumors flying around town that the town has the $6 million from the USDA and has squandered it are not true. The grant money is promised, but the town won’t receive the money directly.

The town discovered earlier this year that due to broken water meters, Ferriday has been losing approximately $300,000 a year in payments for the past 10 years.

McGlothin said if things continue as scheduled, the town should start work on the new plant at the start of 2012.