City to use grant for waste plant improvements

Published 12:02 am Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Vicksburg water treatment plant

The Vicksburg water treatment plant

The City of Vicksburg adopted a resolution authorizing the commitment of local matching funds for Vicksburg’s 2014 Community Development Block Grant Public Facilities Grant program for waste water treatment plant improvements.
In December, improvements to Vicksburg’s water and sewer system topped a list of 12 proposed capital projects over five years worth about $57.7 million prepared by the city’s department heads for Mayor George Flaggs Jr. The water treatment plant needed $7.37 million to replace aging equipment, build five additional wells and related raw water and power lines to improve the city’s capacity for future increased demands for water, improve the city’s water distribution system, including building additional elevated water tanks. Water and sewer system upgrades alone total about $22 million in the five-year program aimed at improving the city’s infrastructure, streets, recreation facilities and upgrade city equipment.
The bulk of Vicksburg’s water and sewer system is over 100 years old, Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman said, adding the lone exceptions are the fire hydrants.
Two of the city’s major sewer systems, the Riverside and Stouts Bayou sewer line systems, were installed in 1908 using clay pipe. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen in July approved a $38,500 contract with Wells Construction of Vicksburg to repair a broken 105-year-old sewer line 20 feet below Bowmar Avenue and Letitia Street that is part of the Riverside and Stouts Bayou system.
The city’s problem with its aging system is compounded by an EPA report released in April that accused the city of violating the Clean Water Act by allowing raw sewage to be dumped into the Mississippi and local streams at least 17 times between 2007 and 2012. The age of the city’s system was not mentioned in the report, Van Norman said.
The Levee Street main, which carries sewage to the city’s sewer treatment plant on Rifle Range Road, was installed in 1973.
“Until 1973, the city was dumping sewage in the Mississippi River,” he said. “The Waste Water Treatment Plant was built in 1973 with a grant.”
The capital projects list was birthed after Flaggs, both aldermen and all department heads met Nov. 6 to hash out ways to improve streets, pipes and city-owned buildings. The meeting came on the heels of a water leak Oct. 25 at the intersections of North Washington Street and Levee and First East streets that raised fears among city officials that the 36-inch city main line about 20 feet below the intersection was broken. The cause was a 1½-inch water service line installed in the late 1800s and never cut off that served a business at the junction that no longer exists.