Originally created 06/05/99

City switches to odd-even rule



County officials launched a twofold emergency solution to the multifaceted water problem in south Richmond County on Friday.

But some residents say the county should have learned a lesson from last summer's water problems and upgraded the system in subsequent winter months when outdoor water use is low.

Early Friday, residents who use water tanks servicing Old Waynesboro, Tobacco and Brown roads were switched to an odd-even outdoor watering schedule and taken off a watering ban that started Wednesday.

Later in the day, Augusta officials opened bids for constructing a water line to connect the area's water system to a Kimberly-Clark well that was previously a part of the city's water system, said Mayor Bob Young.

"This is the well that will provide the area with the backup that we need," said Max Hicks, Augusta utilities director, adding that the well will send an additional one million gallons a day to the area's system.

Mr. Hicks said earlier in the week that the reason the area's water supply was easily crippled by a broken pump or a leak was because South Richmond County doesn't have a backup water supply.

As a result, Mr. Hicks said residents can expect the odd-even outdoor watering system to be in effect until the four tanks -- which ordinarily store a total of 1.5 million gallons of water -- are refilled.

As of early Friday, the elevated tanks

were half full, which utilities officials said was a sign that residents cooperated with Wednesday's water ban.

Today, residents who have odd address numbers can water their lawns and gardens, and those with even numbers can do so Sunday, Mr. Hicks said.

Officials will vote to select a contractor for the emergency Kimberly-Clark line project at 8:30 a.m. today, Mr. Young said.

South Richmond County resident Lonnie Watson said county officials should have added the line in the winter months before any emergency occurred.

"Why didn't they use the foresight?" asked Mr. Watson, who lives on Shadow Moss Court. "When things happen you make sacrifices, but why didn't they install the line in the winter? Look at us out here. These houses are expensive and we need to keep the yards up."

The well originally was slated to be added to the system in 1 1/2 years as a part of the KimberlyClark well field project the county has planned, Mr. Hicks said.

The field project will include a water treatment facility and adding five wells -- which would move close to 7 million gallons daily, he said.

After work on the connection begins, the well should supply water to Augusta within 30 to 60 days, Mr. Young said.

During a workshop Friday afternoon, some commissioners also said the city government should do more to educate residents about its efforts to improve the city's water system.

"I think we're putting out a lot of information now, but we're not putting out enough information," Mr. Young said after the workshop.

"I've said repeatedly that the more information we're putting out, the more support we're going to get from the public for the things we're trying to do."

Some commissioners suggested sending flyers with residents' water bills; Mr. Young even suggested taping an infomercial to run on local cable-television stations.

"You can tell me anything," said Mr. Watson, who has been president of the Ridge Forest Neighborhood Association for two years."But show me some results. I'm the guy down here whose yard's burning."

Staff writer Brandon Haddock contributed also to this article.

Clarissa J. Walker can be reached at (706) 828-3851 or cjwalker@augustachronicle.com.