City Water Issues – 2017
I want to personally thank our city crews for doing such a great job during this time. As most of you are aware, we had a major break in a 12′ pipe that feeds the prison. Pipes break: It happens. When a feeder line breaks, it only affects those down that line, but when a major line breaks, it affects everyone on city water. Our crews found the breakage (in the woods between the river and the prison) and worked till early morning hours in waste deep water to resolve this issue as soon as we could. We were blessed to have on hand the materials and pipe that we needed to replace everything. Our crews worked diligently until the problem was resolved. Then as is required, we opened up hydrants all around town to “flush” our system, just in case any contaminants got into the system from the break (rain water, mud, etc.). Flushing the system removes the present water and replaces with fresh water from our wells. During the time of low water pressure, sedimentary water from other lines also can backup into the main system. Again, flushing the water resolves that. At your house, you often need to let your water run for a few minutes anytime we have issues that cause low pressure.
This happened on a Sunday Night. We were notified Monday that this was an issue that legally would requi
re us to test the water before we could KNOW that all was safe. We immediately notified facebook, radio, and local TV stations. (we did NOT attempt to call everyone or post notices on everyone’s door as has been suggested on facebook – this is not practical). We notified all local reporting places AND facebook.
This issue caused a lot of heartburn to our local restaurants and for this the City apologizes, but again, it was really out of our control. Pipes break. The Health Department is who required the restaurants to shut down until our water could officially be tested. We took the water to a testing center in Cordele as quickly as we possibly could. The testing center took until today to give us the ALL CLEAR. Again, there was nothing we could do to speed up this process.
All in all, I think the city handled this well. We are looking into ways to better notify our citizens of things like water issues and inclement weather, etc. Our local EMA is looking at purchasing a ROBO CALL system to alert the citizens for inclement weather (the sirens no longer work and are uneconomical to repair.) If the county purchases such a system, it is our hope we can use it to alert city residents of issues like this water break.
Several facebook posts suggested that we should have somehow foreseen the issue before it happened. We do have OLD pipes and we DO routinely inspect, clean out, and look for issues before it becomes major – but still things do happen. Our entire North Water Treatment plant needs updating ($2,000,000 cost). We are looking for grants etc. The state has tentatively agreed to forgive $500,000 of a $2,000,000 loan that we will get from them to update this plant. That’s awesome! The remaining balance will be paid by the slight (10%) increase that we implemented this year on city water accounts. (and we still have much lower fees than our peers). We attempt to fund depreciation to the best extent possible each year when we do budget. AND WE STILL HAVE THE LOWEST MILLAGE RATE OF ANY TOWN AROUND. We could replace ALL of our pipes. The water would be cleaner, the issues less. HOWEVER: Replacing these pipes would cause down time (nobody wants that) and the cost would be HUGE!!! So, we inspect, replace as necessary, do the best that we can without increasing taxes and fees any more than we have to!
If you see a city worker – tell them JOB WELL DONE! They worked in the mud and woods late into the night so that our citizens could get back to life as normal. Things happen. We respond. We do the best that we can!