West Feliciana Parish has received a $100,000 grant that will be used toward improving issues with discolored water in the parish. The grant comes from the Community Water Enrichment Fund.

“This is an important first step toward solving the problem of brown water,” said Parish President Kevin Couhig. “These funds will be used to clean the water tanks and to take other measures needed to improve the appearance of the water in the system.”

The CWEF program, which provides for various improvements to community water systems, is administered by the Louisiana Office of Community Development.

Parish Director of Public Works Jim Ferguson said a portion of the funds will go to cleaning the parish’s five elevated water tanks and some will be used to upgrade the disinfection system.

“We decide how we’re going to spend it,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson said the problems with brown water are nothing new and occur when sediment in the tanks is stirred up during times of heavy use. Although the discolored water is unsightly, it is safe to use and drink.

He said the tanks will be emptied, cleaned and pressure washed, treated with disinfectant, then will be returned to the system. He said the work will start this fall and finish in the late winter, during periods of low demand on the water system.

He also said the parish is actively working on a long-term solution, which includes installing flush valves that will purge the system automatically. The current system requires parish personnel to manually flush the system periodically

Another challenge for West Feliciana is the uneven terrain. In low areas, gravity causes the solid particles to settle, and the automatic flushing valves will help to alleviate the severity of the problem and the discolored water should no longer be problematic.

“We’ve already installed the mechanism in Tunica and had no complaints so far. It seems to be working fine,” Ferguson said.

“This allows us to be a little more proactive and keep it to a minimum as we routinely flush it.”

He said the parish also has been applying for millions of dollars in federal and state grants so the parish can continue to upgrade the water system. One plan, when funding becomes available, is to add a new well to the system, likely in the Weyanoke area that would improve flow and pressure in the northwest portion of the parish.

“We are actively trying to think of better ways to deal with any issues with the water system and mitigate it,” Ferguson said. “We don’t think injecting chemicals is the right solution. I ask people to be patient while we figure out the best way to solve the concerns that have always existed.”