Vidalia’s sewerage system will need major upgrades once the Mississippi River dips below flood stage, Mayor Buz Craft told the Vidalia Board of Aldermen Tuesday night.

Craft said the good news is that funding for the work is available through $10 million in capital outlay money.

Concordia Economic Development Executive Director Heather Malone explained that the Legislature last session approved capital outlay funding for town utilities, including $5 million in Priority 2 funding and $5 million in Priority 5.

She said funding could be used for any utility upgrades including gas, water, sewer, electricity and broadband.

Malone said Rep. Andy Anders and Sens. Neal Riser and Francis Thompson were instrumental in obtaining the funding for Vidalia and that Gov. John Bel Edwards recently signed the capital outlay bill.

Craft said the Mississippi has been above flood stage for more than 200 days, adding that these high levels are likely to become a new way of life.

He said the sewer system is set up to process 1.5 million gallons a day but is now processing 2.2 million due to seepage related to the high river level. The system will have to be enlarged and a new pumping station built, the mayor said.

Mark Morace said the main system was constructed in 1966.

At the end of the meeting, Alderman Tommy Probst questioned trash and debris pickup, noting that he had received a number of complaints. The discussion escalated into heated words between he and Craft with the mayor at one point telling Probst, “You are out of order. You don’t have the facts.”

In other business, aldermen elected Robert Gardner as mayor pro tem for the new fiscal year and voted to table an item on appointing the Seventh Judicial District Attorney’s office as city court prosecutor for Vidalia.

Craft announced the introduction of an ordinance adopting and enacting a policies and procedures manual for the town while aldermen approved hiring Marvin Warner as a fulltime patrol officer.

A resolution was also adopted approving an intergovernmental agreement and transfer of property with the Vidalia Port Commission.

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