Vidalia receiving $9 million for major updates to water plant

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2023

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VIDALIA, La. — Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft announced Tuesday that the town would be receiving $9 million in capital outlay funds to pay for major updates to the town’s water system.

In December 2021, the town began the design phase of a second water treatment facility and updates to the existing one, effectively doubling the town’s water treatment capacity to 2,000 gallons per minute and potentially attracting new industries.

Both projects were estimated to cost more than $8 million and are now fully funded, Craft said.

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“It has been approved by the Senate to get state capital to give us $9 million to do that,” Craft said, adding that the bill just needs the governor’s signature in July. “We’ve got some hoops to jump through, but it’s going to be funded and that is a great thing for our town.”

Craft thanked State Sen. Glen Womack; Rep. Travis Johnson; and Bryant Hammett Jr., engineer, land surveyor and former legislator, for their efforts to get the funds.

“Bryant actually went to Gov. John Bell Edwards and invited me to go along with him,” Craft said, adding that without his help along with the support of Womack and Johnson, the funds would have been stricken from the bill, but “they got it done.”

Engineer Doug Wimberly of Neel-Schaffer Inc. previously said the town saw a need for redundancy in its water treatment process during the ice storm in February 2021, during which the town lost water pressure.

“After the freeze of last year everyone saw the importance of having that increased capacity,” Wimberly said.

Having two functional plants would not only clean the city’s water at double the capacity but would provide redundancy so that, should something go wrong at one of the plants, the city could run water with the other while repairs are made without any interruption in the town’s water supply.

“A pro of the higher cost is you essentially have two independent plants. If one goes down, you can still run on the other plant,” he said. “It provides a whole lot of flexibility and backup.”

Also, part of the project is adding fencing and security to the water treatment facility so that no one can enter without clearance.

“I want this to be the Fort Knox of water plants,” Craft previously said.

Construction could take 18 months to two years, depending on how long it would take to get the materials.