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Flushing and testing of water continues

Staff writer

Peabody Public Works Director Darren Pickens gave Mayor Ed Slocombe and city council members an update Monday evening on the new testing and tracking system the city has implemented to keep up with water quality issues in the city.

Two weeks ago, the city set up a written complaint system for citizens to keep the city informed about taste, odor, or color problems.

“So far we haven’t solved the problem, but we have more data and Ronnie (Harms) has been able to do testing in specific areas because people have let us know when they have problems,” Pickens said.

An up-to-date log of complaints was presented to council members.

“We are still doing extensive flushing,” he added. “And we will keep the public updated with suggestions and information in the city newsletter and the newspaper.”

Pickens said Harms is getting better test results, but the downside is that the city is using a lot of water.

Later in the meeting, Benbrook presented council members with a spreadsheet of water usage and costs. Benbrook noted the spike in both since the flushing process began. It is costing the city about $1,000 per month to flush the lines regularly.

“It is going to cost us, but if we quit now, we will be right back where we were,” Pickens said.

He also reminded the council that despite any color, odor, or taste problems all of the samples they have sent in, have indicated the water is safe.

“Even if it is brown, it meets state standards,” Pickens said. “It may not look too appetizing, but no one is going to get sick.”

The quality of water reports and updates will be a standing item at city council meetings until a solution is isolated.

In other business, the council:

  • heard a presentation by planning and zoning chairman Milton Toy. The council agreed to allow the committee access to the comprehensive plan posters to display downtown and at community events, approved a rate scale of fees charged to applicants for zoning changes, and clarified responsibilities, duties, and authority of the committee.
  • approved a request from Brett and Pauline Perrymore for a reduction of $148.32 in sewer charges associated with a water leak at 804 N. Elm. The Perrymores also were given permission to divide the excessive water charges into two equal payments.
  • reviewed a list of nuisance properties with health and safety officer Tammy Whiteside. Also, the council reviewed properties to be mowed by Chris Young. Young’s charges will be billed to the property owners.
  • heard from Pickens that his department will move into the new city shop in November, that patching pot holes continues as weather permits, park rest rooms have been winterized and closed, employees have been filling holes and low spots in streets and alleys left by sewer and water leak repairs, and upgrades have been made to electrical hookups at Santa Fe Park.
  • also heard the sewer line in the 300 to 500 blocks between Plum and Locust streets are being replaced. Only two blocks of that sewer line have not been replaced.
  • discussed the closed bridge on Fifth Street and other bridges and culverts in the city. At the invitation of county commissioners, Slocombe and Benbrook will attend a commission meeting to discuss services that may be available to assist with repairs.
  • heard a report from police chief Bruce Burke and approved a stalking policy as presented, chose not to write off $14,000 in old fines and court costs even though some date back to the 1990s, and requested Burke research regulations about salvage yards in the city limits and the definition of a salvage yard.
  • heard from Benbrook that an health insurance agency is interested in gathering data to see where costs can be cut for city employees, that Benbrook will attend a December training session for withholding and tax issues, and the employee evaluation process has begun.
  • discussed, but took no action on suggestions by Steve Meirowsky for technological solutions to vandalism at the park.
  • approved the re-appointment of Vickie Cook to the Peabody Housing Authority board by Mayor Edmund Slocombe.
  • heard there will be informative meetings in the months ahead regarding zebra mussels at the reservoir and the impact they will have on the city’s water.
  • announced that a special meeting will be Nov. 6. The meeting will be an executive session, but no reason, time, or place were given with the announcement.

Last modified Oct. 29, 2008

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