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Flooding on Mississippi River good for Vidalia surplus revenue

 

VIDALIA — The lengthy flood stage of the Mississippi River may be bad news for underground infrastructure in Vidalia but good news for the town’s hydroelectric fund, officials said after they approved a budget amendment Tuesday to reflect a projected $623,530 increase in the city’s surplus revenue.

The Mississippi River has been above flood stage, which at Natchez and Vidalia is 48 feet, for nearly 200 consecutive days, said Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft.

The Sidney A. Murray Hydroelectric Station, located 40 miles south of Vidalia, generates an amount of power dependent upon the height difference of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers and the amount of diversion flow from the Mississippi and Red rivers.

The City of Vidalia purchases 6% of the power generated at the station, Craft said, which is then sold to the Louisiana Energy and Power Authority. Then Vidalia, along with 17 member cities and towns in Louisiana, purchases the power back from LEPA in a way that reduces power costs as well as helps each of LEPA’s members maintain their municipal system, Craft said.

Vidalia also receives royalties from the hydro station that varies depending on the total power produced by the plant each year.

During a special-called meeting of the Vidalia Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, the board approved a budget amendment that reflects a $1,331,830 change in the town’s projected revenue and a $708,200 change in expenses, which Craft said is the anticipated change in cost for the 6% of power the town purchases from the plant as well as the royalties received from it.

There is still an unknown amount of damage to Vidalia’s sewage system that cannot be repaired until the river recedes, Craft said, adding the latest 14-day rain forecast shows the flood could be over in 28 days.

“We’ve budgeted approximately $1.2 million for street repair and $500,000 for sewer,” Craft said. “We’ve already started cleaning up our riverfront for the Fourth of July firework show.”

Alderman Triand McCoy said the city plans to make the needed repairs as quickly as possible.

“We can’t dig until this flood is over and done with,” McCoy said, “but the public needs to know that as soon as we can we’re getting into it.”

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