Two years ago Augusta-Richmond County was first hit with a serious summertime water shortage. Utility officials and most elected leaders, including then-Mayor Larry Sconyers, assured residents -- many of whose lawns and gardens had been ruined by the drought -- there wouldn't be a rerun in 1999. The worst of the problems would be fixed by then.
Yet when springtime arrived the following year, the problems were still there. Odd-even restrictions were again imposed throughout the summer -- again with assurances from Utility Director Max Hicks and others that all would be fine by 2000.
Surprise, surprise. Spring is just around the corner and Mayor Bob Young is talking about "preemptive preservation steps." That's bureaucratic talk for imposing odd-even water restrictions even before Memorial Day, the earliest ever.
Apparently, matters aren't so fine after aIl. The water restoration project that serves the Tobacco Road area won't be partly completed until July, and not fully completed until October.
This is the project, you recall, that Hicks and other city officials promised would be up and running by summer 2000 -- negating any necessity for restrictions anywhere in the city except in the event of a severe drought.
One point is certain. The "powers that be" and their so-called utility experts must stop making promises they can't, or won't, keep. That only undermines their credibility and damages public confidence in local government.
What Augustans want are results, not promises. If they must deal with another long summer of water restrictions after two years of broken promises, legislation to create a water authority, as urged by state Rep. Henry Howard, D-Augusta, could become an irresistible force.
There's no excuse for the Tobacco Road project not being completed in time. Money has been in the pipeline long enough to get the job done.
Are city commissioners closely monitoring the solving of our water/infrastructure problems? That must be the city's No. 1 priority. No more promises. Just get the job done!
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