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Story Archives: Solutions sought to Ferriday water woes
|Solutions sought to Ferriday water woes|
The Ferriday Town Council voted to immediately terminate its contract with Triton Water Technologies, Inc. during a special meeting Tuesday.
"I've been mayor four times and the water plant has been the only thing that drives me nuts," said Mayor Glen McGlothin said. "You just can't do people this way. We're having to walk 10 blocks to get water in a jug. This is like World War II."
He said it appears that everyone in the U.S. has a right to drink safe water "except Ferriday," but he added that there are a lot of misconceptions about the water situation."
"Thursday the water plant completely shut down," McGlothin said. "We were down to 250,000 gallons. And that was at six o'clock when everybody is taking their showers. It would have been empty within an hour."
That water plant holds 500,000 gallons.
"Everything is working fine now," McGlothin said. "The Department of Health and Hospitals told us the water is safe. Of course, I told them I wanted to see them come up here and drink it."
The mayor said he feels the town has done due diligence when it comes to the Triton contract, and he presented a draft of a letter the town would send to Triton of their intention to terminate the contract.
Alderman Gloria Lloyd moved to terminate the contract, and Jerome Harris seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
McGlothin said the power went out briefly Thursday, causing the plant to shut down.
"There was a problem somewhere between the line and the power that goes to the air compressor," he said. "The young man who checks it handled it like he was supposed to, but he didn't see that a belt was thrown off when the power went off. I called on all our employees, some others and the good Lord. Finally electrician Billy Nelson was able to get it back going."
McGlothin said when the contract with Triton to overhaul the water was signed, part of the agreement was that Triton was to get front-end funding for the project.
"The problem is they have not provided funding," McGlothin said. "We need to do what it takes to take them off and go back to square one and get funding somewhere else. I want to get funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or somewhere else instead of waiting for (Triton)."
McGlothin said the plant has always been in need of repairs and that has been compounded by the fact that the Department of Health and Hospitals is requiring more repairs than were initially included in the Triton contract, driving the total cost of repairs to $2.3 million.
"They have added a ton of money to what they are doing," McGlothin said of the DHH.
And the money needed for repairs does not include the cost for the billing system and new meters that will need to be installed, which is an additional $960,000.00.
"I don't know how they expect us to pay the money back if we don't have meters," McGlothin said.
McGlothin said he spoke to Gov. Bobby Jindal seeking emergency money, and engineer Bryant Hammett will meet with the town's bond attorneys today (Wednesday) to see if it can get funding for the project.
"This is a need, not a want," McGlothin said. "If we can get some help, we'll hit the ground running to get this fixed."
Likewise, the mayor has been speaking directly with the members of the region's congressional delegation, trying to get some funding for the project, whether through stimulus or other federal aide.
"If we can get some help from the government and through the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation we feel like we will only need $800,000 and we can jump on that and have this thing fixed in six weeks," McGlothin said. "(Vidalia Mayor) Hyram Copeland and parish officials have been working their tails off trying to get us help right now. I told our legislators I wish I was in Iraq instead of here because they would be shipping the money to me."
McGlothin also addressed a problem of not being able to get in touch with all employees during the emergency.
"Cell phones don't reach everywhere and if someone is out in a hole they are not going to hear it," he said.
The town council approved purchasing $8,516 in radio equipment to help expedite work orders connected to the water system. The 11 mobile radios will be placed in the water works employee trucks, and speakers connected to the radios will be mounted to the outside of the trucks, McGlothin said.
"There won't be any excuse, I don't care if you have a cell phone or not," McGlothin said. The system will also help speed up work orders are completed when the situation returns to normal, he said.
Town hall employees will be able to radio town workers to the location of a problem so workers go directly to it.
"That way, if someone has a leak, they won't have a $1,000 water bill by the time we get to it or be just about drowning," he said. "We're going to move into the 21st century."
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