Originally created 05/14/00

Residents dread water restrictions



While watching a water tank being drained Saturday near his Martinez home, David Naus began to have water restriction nightmares.

It was the third and final day of draining for a 5-million gallon reserve tank on Morningside Drive because the water had become dirty during an earlier test that went wrong.

"Now, they're dumping all this stuff," Mr. Naus said. "And they're going to have this tank empty in the middle of a water crisis already. The whole thing is not good."

Carter and Angie Morris, neighbors of Mr. Naus, also were having to deal with the drainage as the water was being directed into their pond.

"My neighbor is very upset," Mr. Naus said. "(The neighbors told the county workers), `No, you can't do that.' And they did it anyways. They've got pumps out there and everything else trying to keep the water from running out over his dam."

But according to Columbia County Water Works Director Billy Clayton, the draining of the Martinez reserve tank, which took place Thursday night through Saturday afternoon, had no effect on the county's current restrictions and posed no trouble to the Morrises' pond. He said the problem also never contaminated the area's water supply but did make it slightly dirty.

"What we experienced there was just a bug in the new system," Mr. Clayton said. "That's all. And that main was absolutely sterilized with high concentrations of chlorine when it was originally installed. So all of the water tests off of it were good. We just felt it was a little too dirty for our customers."

The problem, Mr. Clayton said, occurred earlier in the week when a test was run on the waterline traveling to the tank to see how it could handle an increased flow/

"That line was a 5-mile line, and you've got to imagine that in that five miles, there's a little dirt along the way," he said. "And what we had done for the very first time was create a velocity of water in there fast enough that what little bit of dirt was in there, it was picked up into the solution."

In addition, Mr. Clayton said, a closed valve opened during the test, quickly relieving a burst of pressure and causing an overflow into the tank. Although the tank was completely drained Saturday, Mr. Clayton said, his workers will flush out the tank's waterline and the tank itself again today and Monday. And because of the county's current outdoor-watering restrictions Monday, he said, the tank is expected to have time to fill back up to full capacity by Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Even without the tank, Dianne Ford, chairwoman of the county's Water and Sewerage Committee, said water levels are able to meet demands.

"We were back at the capacity we were last year without the 5-million gallon tank," she said. "So, it wasn't anything where people were going to be without water."

But Mr. Naus said the problem never should have occurred in the first place.

"The whole reason for it is that they didn't properly start up and test the thing before they got it up on line," he said.

The county's watering restrictions ban outdoor watering on Mondays for all homeowners and uses a system of odd-even watering days for those with multiple-head sprinkler systems in their yards. In such cases, those with even addresses can water Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and those with odd addresses can do so Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222,Ext. 110, or preston.sparks@groupz.net.