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ALDERMAN WILLIE EVANS (pictured forefront), Aldermen Kevin Mitchell and Abdul Sabir look over paperwork during Clayton’s regular meeting Tuesday night. (Photo by Joe Curtis)

Clayton officials will use American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to resolve three Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) administrative orders.

Aldermen gave the authorization to Mayor Wilbert Washington in their regular January meeting Tuesday night.

LDH administrative orders deal with Clayton’s water. 

The first administrative order dated back to 2015 during former Mayor Rydell Turner’s term and dealt with water exceeding maximum contaminant levels for disinfection by-products and failure to submit operation evaluation level reports. 

Also the administrative order dealt with having inadequate chlorine residuals and failure to address significant deficiencies including not having an approved cross connection control program to prevent contamination. 

Clayton may face penalties of $153,592 if the requests are not cleared, according to the order. The potential penalties accrue daily.

“They haven’t imposed the penalties,” Washington said. “To prevent (penalties), we are going to have to submit a response by Jan. 7.”

To resolve the administrative order, Washington will use $30,000 of ARP funds to retrofit Clayton’s water plant to use chloramine instead of chlorine, elevating the contaminant levels.

An additional option Washington suggests is to tie into Ferriday’s water system.

“I’m working on negotiations with the Town of Ferriday and the State of Louisiana,” Washington said. “(State of Louisiana) could forgive us some of the loan that is tied into the plant. The state wants these rural communities like ours to consolidate (water systems.)”

Washington calls the option a longterm goal.

“This is a long game,” Washington said. “That’s two to five years down the road. This is something that will not happen this year.”

Additionally, Washington will use $35,000 in ARP funding to purchase a standby generator for Clayton’s water plant, resolving a 2021 LDH administrative order.

Also, Washington will combine a $12,000 Community Water Enrichment Fund (CWEF) grant and $13,000 of ARP funds to rehabilitate Clayton’s water well, resolving another 2021 LDH administrative order.

“We only have one operating well right now,” Washington said. “We have to get the other well back up.”

CWEF provides funding to aid local government in rehabilitating, improving and constructing projects for community water systems to provide safe, clean drinking water. 

Aldermen unanimously voted to authorize Washington to spend ARP funds. Alderman Willie Evans made the motion with a second from Alderman Abdul Sabir.

Meanwhile, Clayton will possibly host an outdoor event the first Saturday of May.

The possible event would feature a parade, vendors, small children’s carnival with cake walks and ponies, and car show.

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