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Auxiliary water line a project worth pursuing

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s efforts to build an auxiliary water line for the city received a boost with the increase in federal grant money for the project.

Last Thursday, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and Vicksburg District commander Col. Robert Hilliard signed a cooperative agreement boosting the Corps’ Water Resources Development Act Section 592 infrastructure grant for the project from about $2.5 million to $4.5 million. The total project cost is estimated at $6 million; the city’s share of the cost is $1.5 million.

Discussions about building an auxiliary water line began in 2010, when the city’s main line was exposed and damaged during construction of the Corps’ Jesse L. Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum and Interpretive Center on Washington Street.

The project discussion lapsed, however, but was renewed in 2013 when Flaggs took office. By that time, the project’s $3.29 million price tag almost doubled. The new board fired IMS of Jackson, the engineers initially hired for the project, after bids on the project came in $3 to $4 million over budget, and hired EJES Engineers, which planned a new route for the line that is expected to be less expensive.

The purpose of the auxiliary line is very simple. It will provide a backup water line to serve the city if a break or other problem forces the city to shut down the main line.

If there is any question why the city needs the extra line, all anyone has to do is go back to May 2017, when a valve broke on the main water line, forcing officials to cut off service for two days. The city was placed under a boil water notice for an additional four days.

If Vicksburg is to attract business and become the tourist destination our officials want it to be, having the ability to provide a constant source of potable water is essential. That’s what makes building this water line so important.

After signing the amended agreement, Flaggs said, “This is a great day for the future of Vicksburg.”

He’s right. This project will be a boon to the city long into the future, and we thank the Corps of Engineers for their assistance with it.

The city is expected to advertise for bids on the project later this month. Hopefully, they’ll come within the budget and there will be no more delays.