Backup water line funds ‘pretty much a done deal’

Published 1:30 am Saturday, September 11, 2010

The City of Vicksburg is one signature away from securing $2,453,654 in federal funds to install a second major water line from the treatment plant north of downtown to serve its roughly 10,000 customers.

“It’s pretty much a done deal,” Public Works Director Bubba Rainer said Friday after the mayor and aldermen OK’d the final agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to accept the funding. “Something would really have to go wrong for this not to happen now.”

Once the Corps, which is administering the funds via an infrastructure program known as Section 592, inks the agreement, the funding will be officially approved, Rainer said. He said the agreement would be sent to the Corps on Friday, and expects them to sign it in the coming week.

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“This is a very, very big deal,” Mayor Paul Winfield said after signing the agreement Friday. “We have very aged infrastructure that needs to be improved…and this is millions of dollars that we don’t have to pay to do it.”

The city must match the Section 592 funding with $841,821, and plans to use charges from its water service to do so. Once the funding is in place, Rainer said the project will need to be designed and put to bid. He estimated that to take five to six months, with the nine-month installation to begin shortly thereafter.

The project would see a 30-inch main installed from the plant on Haining Road east to North Washington Street, where it would head south toward downtown before running east up the steep banks near the historic Fort Nogales site. It would then be routed south beneath Fort Hill Drive and eventually tie into existing lines downtown. In total, 14,000 feet of 30-inch pipe would be installed.

Meanwhile, an easement from the National Park Service is also needed, as part of the planned water line crosses through the Vicksburg National Military Park. Rainer said city officials have met with VNMP officials and that the chances of getting the easement “look good,” but stressed the NPS will have the final say. If the easement is not granted, Rainer said another route will be identified, which could delay the project.

Though the city has roughly 10,000 water customers it serves directly, Rainer noted the existing main actually serves about 45,000 customers when outlying water districts that draw from the system are factored in.

A second feed from the water treatment plant would prevent future disruptions in water service to the city if the current, single main is compromised. That happened in 2006 and was nearly experienced earlier this year.

A land shift March 26 near the MV Mississippi at Jackson and Washington streets threw a 36-inch water main into jeopardy and nearly shut off water service to 90 percent the city’s customers. The Corps funded a $1.36 million rerouting of the line around the shift site via Main, Walnut and Jackson streets.