City’s boil water notice lifted

Published 9:11 pm Friday, September 2, 2016

At 11 a.m. Friday officials lifted the citywide boil water notice issued late Monday for all of Vicksburg, Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman said.

The city had to provide two consecutive days of clear water samples to the Mississippi Department of Health in Jackson before state officials would allow the notice to be lifted.
“We had to pull samples throughout the system for two consecutive days,” he said. “The samples came back good so we were able to lift the boil water notice.”

Vicksburg’s water treatment plant on Haining Road was back to full operation Wednesday after being shut down by a power outage that knocked out the city’s water wells and affected the pumps moving water from the plant to the city’s water tanks scattered across town.

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The problems began Monday night when a tree fell on power lines sending power to the city’s well fields on Hanining Road and Long Lake Road, knocking out power to 10 city wells. The outage also blew fuses at the water treatment plant, causing a brief power outage.

“The generator came on (when the power went out) and performed like it should,” Van Norman said. “We were able to get things back on line with Entergy Tuesday morning.”
Soon after, he said, at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the pumps went down because of an electrical problem at the 48-year-old plant.

The shutdown prevented the pumps from moving water to the tanks, causing them to run dry.

“We could not pump water from the water plant back to town,” he said. “We had to go up there and go through all this different stuff to try to figure out what it was.”

Van Norman said the exact cause of the electrical problem that affected the pumps is unknown, but added the plant’s electrical system is old and outdated, and it is hard to get electrical problems at the plant repaired because parts are no longer made for the system.

The board has discussed replacing the electrical system with a more updated system, a project estimated at about $5 million.

“It’s not something you do overnight, but it’s something that is going to have to happen in the future,” he said. “But it still works. You are going to have problems with anything.”

The water treatment plant has five pumps, Van Norman said, and one of those was already down for maintenance. The problems at the plant spawned two emergency meetings of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday afternoon to address the shutdown.

Van Norman said the pumps resumed operation Tuesday night.
Once the pumps were operating, he said, the water had to be pumped back in the tanks slowly in order to keep the pipes in tact.

“Finally we got it running. It just takes time. You don’t just flip the switch. You have to take stuff apart and pull it out. It’s big, dangerous stuff,” he said.

The boil water notice and loss of water pressure forced Vicksburg schools, municipal buildings and businesses to closing early Tuesday.

“We’ve never had anything like that happen,” Van Norman said. “Hopefully, we won’t have to go through something like this again.”