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Cost to repair May’s water line break topped $500,000, mayor says

Contractor and subcontractor bills totaled more than $500,000 to repair the break in a section of the city’s main waterline that left Vicksburg without water service for three days in mid-May, according to information from Mayor George Flaggs Jr.’s office.

Four contractors and five subcontractors were used to build a cofferdam to remove floodwaters from around site of the break and repair the line.

Flaggs said the Board of Mayor and Aldermen are expected Monday to approve a budget amendment to move money in the city’s general fund budget to cover total $526,099 cost of the work. The total bill from the four contractors was $485,394.58

“We’re going to able to absorb the cost through some cuts in some other areas of the budget,” he said, adding the cuts will come from projects in the general fund that will not be completed during the present fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. He said the city’s budget committee recommended cuts.

“Thank God that we were able to do this job. We were able to fix the leak and pay for it within this year’s budget,” Flaggs said. “That’s a testament to just good fiscal management, and another reason why I was reluctant to go to the reserve fund because of an emergency. This is what you do in an emergency; you set priorities in your spending.”

City officials shut the water system down May 17 when the 36-inch main waterline in the city’s well field ruptured. The break occurred when a cover on a valve installed when the underground waterline was built in 1967 blew off.

The move left the city without water service for three days, and city officials and several civic groups set up water distribution areas across the town. The problem also forced several restaurants, hotels and other businesses to close.

Because the problem occurred during the spring Mississippi River flood, the well field was submerged under about 10 feet of water, and contractors had to build the cofferdam to isolate the site of the break and pump the water out so workers could gain access to the line and repair it.

Officials estimated three Vicksburg contractors — DirtWorks, River City Dirt Works and Riverside Construction — moved 16,000 to 20,000 cubic feet of dirt over almost 30 hours to build up the dam, which cleared about an acre of land. Workers for Hemphill Construction Co. of Florence repaired the line.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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