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City of Sulphur lays out plan to fix water issues

Updated: Apr. 28, 2020 at 10:20 PM CDT
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SULPHUR, La. (KPLC) - The City of Sulphur has its share of water issues and we’ve reported a handful of times about the city’s orange-tinted water.

“Years of long-term neglect," Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay said. “We started to see an increase in the discoloration of water. So we knew we had to do something.”

Mark Cholley, the Sulphur water plant supervisor, said they’ve identified the problem as a deteriorated filtering system.

“We had a well that collapsed, so we started up another well. The other well has a higher iron content. So, as the water is going through the system as we backwash, there’s really nothing inside the filter to contain the iron in the filter. Once that happens, it’s just going out into the system," Cholley said.

The city has come up with an immediate, temporary fix and a long-term plan.

“Please call the City of Sulphur first. Let us know. We go out twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. We have somebody here that’s on staff. We can go out any time of the day or night to flush your lines, flush the system," Cholley said.

The long-term plan? Revitalizing the whole water system in phases which will cost over $13 million in total.

New well at the Verdine Plant, nearing completion
New well at the Verdine Plant, nearing completion(KPLC)

The project will start by adding a charcoal material to the water vessels to filter out iron.

The several projects include:

  • A new well at the Verdine Plant: $850,000
  • A new two million gallon ground storage tank: $2.2 million
  • Filter media replacement for all 8 vessels: ~$110,000
  • Filter vessel replacement for 8 vessels: $7 million

“A projected time of eighteen months (once it’s started) for it to be completed. The quick fix is to reinstall new media into the filters to carry us over until we get the new vessels in," Cholley said.

Then the city will replace all eight water filters. But — how will it all be paid for?

“Various funding sources. Public utility fund as well as sales taxes monies," Danahay said. "No. They are not new sales taxes, they are already in place.”

In the meantime, Cholley said the water is safe to drink according to state guidelines.

“It don’t look good so you’re not going to drink it, but, as far as the state - they have records to back up we do have safe water," Cholley said.

They expect to get the filter media replacement and vessel replacement projects started in the next few months, all depending on the coronavirus.

Again, they urge any residents with orange-tinted water to call the water plant operating hours (7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) residents can call: 337-527-4582. Or, after hours, at: 337-527-4500 where a dispatcher will connect you to a plant operator.

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