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|Landrieu says funding options in place for Ferriday water|
Sen. Mary Landrieu said today (Wednesday) she is continuing work this week to obtain the funding needed to provide short and long-term solutions to Ferriday's water problem and that federal stimulus money may be available.
The senator said she is also adding language to the Senate Appropriations Bill scheduled for a vote in two weeks that directs the USDA to "give special consideration" to this issue.
Estimates are that a new Ferriday water plant and system will cost up to $6 million.
"I am deeply concerned about the water crisis in Ferriday and have been working closely with Mayor McGlothin to provide reliable drinking water for the town," Landrieu said. "I am confident that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has the funds needed to address these problems and Mayor McGlothin is working as quickly as possible to submit the right plan to access these funds."
She said, "I will do everything in my power to see that this issue is resolved swiftly and that a long-term plan for providing safe drinking water is put in place."
McGlothin, who said Landrieu "has always come to our aid when we needed her," remained in Ferriday this week to help town workers perform maintenance work at the water plant, while a delegation of officials from the parish went to Washington to meet with Landrieu, Sen. David Vitter and Congressman Rodney Alexander on a number of local issues.
"It's been a job," said McGlothin. "Everybody's been working overtime at the plant. One guy worked 36 hours without sleep. But this is what happens when you have four years of no maintenance. That will ruin anything."
Ferriday was placed on a boil water notice on May 11 due to problems with the roof at the water plant, which was initially damaged in 2006.
"We can build the water tank at the plant in six weeks and get off the boil water notice but we need the $750,000," said McGlothin, that has been approved through a line of credit from the State Bond Commission. That money will come through USDA once plant specifications are provided by the project engineer, Bryant Hammett and Associates.
Hammett visited Landrieu in Washington on Tuesday along with Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland and parish economic director Heather Malone.
Landrieu spokesman Aaron Saunders said Hammett "has been looking at other water plants and facilities in working on the plans for the plant. It's a big job and the plan he turns in has to deal with both the short-term and long-term situation. They don't want options. They want one plan on the table that is going to work."
Saunders says Landrieu "has personally intervened with USDA and made them aware of her deep concerned on this and her interest in seeing the use of some of the stimulus dollars. They have significant funds available for this purpose."
Additionally, Saunders says Landrieu has assisted McGlothin in obtaining technical assistance from a number of agencies, including the Rural Water Association of Louisiana.
"He has been taking advantage of that," he said.
Saunders said the short-term need for Ferriday "is the tank while the long-term needs include a new plant and water system with new meters and a billing system. USDA wants to know if they loan or grant the town money that the town can identify revenue sources and can measure water usage."
McGlothin said the cost for the new tank and work to get the town off the boil water notice is $1.2 million. He said the new tank will be used in the new water plant.
In addition to the $750,000 that is being sought from USDA, McGlothin said $250,000 has been approved in emergency funding through a Louisiana Community Development Block Grant.
"An emergency has been declared but we don't have that money either," said McGlothin.
The town is using $200,000 in funding from Walmart this year for pumps, controls and other work.
The situation of the water plant was in dire conditions when McGlothin took off last year, he said. State inspections also revealed poor maintenance and several citations during the previous years.
"The filters had not been cleaned so we ordered barrels of neurotic acid to clean them," he said. "The maintenance on this plant was terrible."
Saunders said Landrieu is monitoring the situation on a daily basis.
"It's at the top of her list," said Saunders. "If we run into a snag she will intervene and see that these logjams are removed."
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