Ferriday water overhaul nearing

Published 12:03 am Monday, January 20, 2014

Ferriday — A construction date for a water system overhaul for the Town of Ferriday could be set in as early as 60 days.

The Louisiana Bond Commission approved Thursday the release of funds for the project.

“This is long overdue for the Town of Ferriday,” Mayor Gene Allen said. “We need good, clean water for our citizens, and this is going to help our town greatly.”

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Improvements will be paid through a $5 million grant and a $1.6 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The water improvement project includes three separate projects — switching the city’s water supply from Old River to ground water wells, replacing outdated and non-functioning water meters and improving the town’s water treatment facility.

The town plans to repay the loan over the course of 40 years and maintain the water system with a $6 increase in water rates, which was approved at a board of aldermen meeting last year and went into effect immediately.

USDA Community Program Specialist Cheryl Rodgers said approval from the bond commission was the last step necessary before a closing date and pre-construction meeting could be scheduled within 60 days.

“Once we schedule that date and close the loan and the grant, then we’ll have the pre-construction meeting where we actually set the date for construction to start,” Rodgers said. “We’re glad to see this in the final phases before construction can actually begin.”

After all the project bids were received and engineering, attorney fees and other costs were factored in, the project totaled $7,105,520, which was $305,864 over the initial projected total.

USDA officials reviewed the town’s finances and allocated an additional $432,000 in loan and grant funding for the project to continue, Rodgers said.

At Tuesday’s Ferriday Board of Aldermen meeting, board members voted to accept $180,000 from the USDA for a grant-fund overage.

“The project is close to 75 percent grants, so it’s a great deal for Ferriday,” Rodgers said.

Early estimates showing construction beginning this year put the project being finished by 2018.