Broken Levee Threatens SouthSide Water Supply

SOUTHSIDE (KAIT) - When the floodwaters receded this week workers at the water department realized how close to disaster they had come.

All through last weeks flooding the water treatment plant functioned as it was supposed to. But when the waters receded, workers realized how close they had come to disaster.

John Richardson, Manager Southside Public Water Authority, "We were feeling pretty good about things until the water went down yeah at that point we were rather shocked at how it close it actually got to taking out our raw water line and our power cables . "

What they found was that their 10 foot high levy along the river road was completely gone. Eroded away by the rivers power.

Richardson, "This river begin from this flood to wallow out the bank on both sides of our intake facility here and for about 13/14 hundred feet or so further down the river here and if we don't get it stabilized as quickly as possible I fear that we could be in major problems on any kind of future event like that. "

The flood waters literally tore chunks of land out of farmers fields next to the pumps.

This kind of assault by the river is what Richardson fears most. Since their 16 inch raw water line and power cables run parallel to the river.

Richardson, "A major cut it could expose enough of it 30, 50 60, 100 feet of it where it literally just falls into the river."

A disaster of that scale would mean the homes that get their fresh water from the plant could lose their supply of water for an extended period.

For now holes have been filled in on the levee and the Army Corp of Engineers has been contacted for help.

"They came and looked and determined that if eligible we could possibly do a with them a rehabilitation stabilization project."

Richardson says the project could cost the water authority nearly half a million with the corp providing around a million. Richardson told us that Senator Blanche Lincoln has promised to help as much as she can.

For now it is a waiting game to see how soon help will arrive.

The Southside water authority serves about then thousand customers.