Pipe remains stable, but city declares emergency

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The situation with the main water line serving Vicksburg was stable this morning, but the mayor and aldermen continued an emergency declaration in case the 36-inch pipe near North Washington Street starts shifting again or breaks.

Mayor Paul Winfield said the declaration means the city can immediately hire anyone needed to work on the problem.

“In an event we have anything that would occur, we’ll be able to initiate the appropriate authorities,” said Winfield. “It also opens up the opportunity for the city to be reimbursed if we have any out-of-pocket expenses.”

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Movement in the line, which serves 10,000 home and business customers and a few rural water districts, was detected Friday in the same area where a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Interpretive Center is being built.

No movement has been recorded since then due to temporary stabilization work that continued through the day. Corps spokesman Kavanaugh Breazeale said a 24-hour site watch had been suspended.

Winfield said officials from the Corps met Monday afternoon with city engineers to talk about short- and long-term solutions.

Vicksburg Public Works director Bubba Rainer said traffic between Grove and Main streets has been blocked to reduce vibration at the site. Otherwise, city and federal engineers will not meet again until one of them has devised a plan for a permanent fix.

“It’s not an easy problem to solve,” said Rainer.

On Friday, dump trucks and bulldozers moved sand to the site below the slide that caused several cracks in the pavement on Washington Street. The cracks were sealed to keep any rainwater from seeping in.

Saturday, city workers inspected a storm drain just south of the shift for cracks and possible movement.

Winfield said Monday that city officials are working with Warren County supervisors. “We thought it would be wise and prudent to include them in this because, not only are city residents being affected, but also our county residents potentially could be affected by this,” Winfield said.

District 5 Supervisor Richard George said the county also has declared an emergency.

“If the line were to burst, it would cost the citizens a great inconvenience and the taxpayers a great inconvenience,” George said. “If the city needs assistance, we would be glad to help them.”

He said because most water districts outside the corporate limits produce their own supply, he did not think a break would have a major effect on county residents.

But, “It depends on the longevity of the outage,” George said.

In September 2006, when a water line broke near Anderson-Tully Company, also off North Washington Street, repairs cost the city $60,000 and residents were without water for about 24 hours. That break was closed to the city’s well field and water treatment plant at E.W. Haining Industrial Center.

Winfield said if the line were to break, the city would seek help from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for water and other necessities.

Contact Tish Butts at tbutts@vicksburgpost.com