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Another new council member takes a place at the table

Water nuisance and nuisance water discussed at length

Staff writer

Pam Lamborn was sworn in as new Peabody City Councilman Monday night by city administrator Jeff Benbrook. Lamborn is filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Peggy Phillips.

Morgan Marler and Ronnie Harms made a presentation to the council about quality of water issues in some areas of the Peabody distribution system. They have spent several weeks testing water samples and isolating areas that have chronic problems.

Marler said the area with the most problems is in the southeast part of the city.

“You used to have the sewer plant down there and it pulled a large quantity of water through the system,” she said. “Since that was closed, problems have developed because the water does not circulate properly and the usage has dropped.”

Marler said problems could be coming from a private well or from a large concentration of nitrifying bacteria. All tests for Coliform and E.coli came back negative. Tests showed that although there are taste, color, and odor issues, the problems are not dangerous to residents’ health.

“The water meets all state and federal regulations,” she said.

Marler and Harms will continue to refine the testing in hopes of narrowing down the specific part of the distribution system that is causing the problem.

Harms said that a system for written complaints from residents has been established with the city office and it will help them isolate areas of concern.

“People can help by letting us know if they are having a problem,” he said. “It won’t help to complain about it (to others) if you aren’t going to call and let us know that your water is colored or tastes funny.”

The reporting system has just been established and will be outlined in the next city newsletter to accompany the water bills.

Marler encouraged council members to consider building a fund into the budget process to begin replacing the 100-year-old lines and looping some of the dead-ends.

“You have 28 dead end lines,” she said, showing the council a map of the water system. “They can cause a lot of problems.”

The council will get monthly updates about testing results and what steps can be taken to clear up issues in a given area.

Several residents were present to address the council about letters they received about grass and weed issues on or adjacent to their properties.

The drainage ditch between Vine and Olive from Division to Fifth streets is one area of concern. The city abandoned part of that “alley” in 1921 and the remainder in 1982 and the land reverted to the property owners. Each resident is responsible for clearing weeds and debris to the center of the alley (or ditch) behind his property.

The ditch has become a problem since the city abandoned the water wells and switched its system to surface water piped from the reservoir.

Peabody’s water table began rising and the ditch now remains full of water all year. Weeds, debris, and mosquitoes have become a problem. Residents think the city should spray the ditch, while the city expects the homeowner to mow or spray to keep the area from being a blight.

Keeping weeds and grass trimmed in public rights-of-way was also discussed. The city has an ordinance requiring property owners to be responsible for grass and weeds growing over curbs and into streets, but it has not been aggressive about enforcing it.

After lengthy discussion, Tom Schmidt made a motion to put a “stay” on all letters sent out about these problems.

“I think the city should review this, maybe sit down with the property owners and reach a decision we all can work with,” he said. “We should find something that makes sense.”

Council agreed unanimously. Peabody economic development will facilitate future discussion between the city and the property owners.

In other business, the council:

  • approved a draft agreement for a pet foster care program in Peabody.
  • reviewed the list of nuisance properties and approved moving ahead on several.
  • approved a 50-cent merit pay increase for Harms for getting re-certified in waste water management.
  • approved a $50 donation to the 15th Annual Marion County Toy Run and the purchase of a one-half page, color ad in Peabody-Burns High School yearbook.
  • heard the online bill-paying system is up and running and adopted an anti-identity theft program for those using the system.
  • heard the bridge that is out on Fifth Street near the lift station is probably not part of the county links system, making payment for repairs the sole responsibility of the city.
  • heard that Peabody Main Street Association has received new fall banners for the downtown light poles and will be getting them installed as soon as weather permits.
  • approved an expenditure of $2,790 to Inland Potable Services to inspect the water tower, and inspect and clean the clear well in the spring.
  • reviewed proper wording and process for declaring an executive session.
  • heard that Peabody economic development committee has spent two meetings reviewing goals and getting them prioritized. Chairman Larry Larsen and interim Main Street director Shane Marler felt significant progress had been made.
  • approved a request by Tammy Whiteside to repair her front porch without the necessity of a building permit. Whiteside will maintain current dimensions and match the original design.

Last modified Oct. 15, 2008

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