TALLULAH (KTVE/KARD) -- The pounding of the pumps on Tuesday marked the first day of "Project Clear Well" in Tallulah, a three-phase project that's supposed to give people cleaner drinking water by cleaning out tanks at the local water treatment facility.
"Empty the clear wells/settling tanks that are outside of the clarifiers that collect the sludge at the bottom of them," said Tallulah Water System Contract Manager Carlton Whitaker.
How it works is water from the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer is drawn into the facility where clarifiers treat it with lime and chemicals to clean it.
The clarifier then sends the water to the clear wells, but over time, lime can build up.
"The slurry here has granulations in it which are the minerals. It gets heavy and it settles out and, in the process of these settling tanks, it's part of the natural process of the treatment," said Whitaker.
The Tallulah Mayor said the project aims to keep impurities out of the drinking water.
"With all the browning of the water, the different boil advisories that we're faced with, this can take care of that situation for us right now," said Mayor Paxton Branch.
Contractors are cleaning the three tanks one at a time to make sure water isn't interrupted in the city.
Officials said each tank's clean-up will cost $8,000 but will lead to cleaner water.
"Better, pristine water. More pristine and safer water and I want it to be of that quality and certainly my mayor does and the people that's in Tallulah," Whitaker said.
Branch said the project is just the beginning on the journey to a new water plant altogether.
"The first stage of a long process," he said. "This is a $22 million project that has to be finished one day as soon as later."
Branch, just in his first few months as Tallulah mayor, said he will be proactive in bringing better water.
"Accountability is what people placed on me. It gives our constituents hope that, 'OK, we're working towards what I said we wanted to do,'" he said.
At this point, Mayor Branch said the city is still researching funding on the construction of a new water plant.
It will take a full day to clean out one of the tanks and then contractors will move on to the next phase should weather conditions stay dry and keep the ground firm.