Originally created 08/06/99

Harlem bans outdoor watering



The town of Harlem instituted a total outdoor watering ban Thursday in response to the dry weather -- and possibly a ruptured water main.

That comes on the heels of Augusta officials re-attaching a historically troubled 42-inch line to the county water system Thursday to help alleviate its own set of problems.

"We don't expect significant rain in the next few days,"said Augusta's Assistant Utilities Director Tom Weidmeir. "We don't expect the demand on the system to drop, and we felt like it was time to open that line up."

The 42-inch line has been repaired, pressure tested and inspected for several weeks. The line -- which carries Augusta Canal water to the Highland Avenue treatment facility -- has been off-line since it ruptured near Riverlook Drive on June 19.

Utilities Director Max Hicks said previously that the 25-year-old 42-inch line -- which has burst five times since it was installed, causing thousands in property damage -- would only be used for backup, although the new repairs rendered it functional.

"The area (of the main) that we had problems with in June has been replaced," Mr. Weidmeir said. "And the line has been inspected again and we feel that it's safe to bring it back on, because up until this week we were able to maintain the levels in the reservoir without it."

He added that workers will increase the amount of water drawn through the line gradually until it is at full pressure sometime today.

In Harlem, the water ban is the solution to the city's problem-plagued water system as well. Carrying water to 1,800 clients, Harlem's system was overwhelmed this week by residents' water demands, which have increased during the area's recent heat wave, city officials said.

"Due to the drought conditions, people used more water," said Jean Dove, Harlem city clerk. "We couldn't pump enough water."

Also, a water main near Harlem High School on Clary Cut Road burst in Harlem on Thursday. City officials said crews were repairing the break as late as 6 p.m. Several residents called city hall to complain of low water pressure, and some residents said they had no water at all.

The city has been under odd-even water restrictions since June 12.

Cora Patton said she'd been doing less watering of her flowers since the odd-even restrictions were put in place in Harlem.

Though she gardens, Ms. Patton said she supports the total watering ban.

"My goodness, if it's necessary, I'm for it," she said, "because my house means more to me than my yards and flowers."

Clarissa J. Walker covers south Richmond County for The Augusta Chronicle. She can be reached at (706) 828-3851 or cjwalker@augustachronicle.com.