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Council discusses water shortage

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The city’s ongoing water shortage was the hot topic at Monday night’s LaFayette City Council meeting. New Mayor Barry Moody, along with council members Terry Mangram, Michael Ellis, Tammie Williams and David Ennis took action on several issues in an effort to ease the problems created by the ongoing drought.

Water and Wastewater Superintendent Katie Hill told the council that the city was currently in Phase II of the Emergency Water Conservation plan and because there had been no significant rain in the past month, she recommended entering Phase V of the plan.

Phase V calls for a mandatory reduction in water usage to all customers by 25 percent. Phase II called for a 10 percent reduction. More specifically, the action for Phase V states that no customer shall make, cause, use or permit the use of water from LaFayette for any purpose in any amount in excess of 75 percent of the amount used by that customer during the billing period of the previous year.

The council discussed ways to enforce the measure as well as the penalties involved. Hill told the council that she would have to manually look at the bills to determine if any violations occurred and that using data from 12 months ago would account for seasonal chances in water usage. It was also determined that enforcement of the measure would have to begin after the end of the current billing cycle in December.

The council did not vote to enter into Phase V, but they did approve a motion to allow Mayor Moody, City Clerk Louis Davidson, Hill and Utilities Committee Chairman Mangram to determine when and how the city should upgrade to Phase V. Action is expected to be taken on the matter in the coming days. Hill said after the meeting that she did know the exact number of days of water left but estimated it was less than 50 days.

In continuing to discuss the water issue, Water Distribution and Waste Collection Superintendent Jeff Williams said that he had located 12 beaver dams between the city lake and County Road 32, some as high as four feet tall. Williams has subsequently located several other beaver dams and had destroyed them by hand but destroying all by hand would be impossible. Williams said he had been in contact with two individuals about using dynamite to destroy the dams, and one gave him an estimate of $5,110 to destroy 12 dams. Williams also discussed the possibility of cleaning the ditch bed out between the deepest point of the creek back to the city lake. He said an estimate was given of 1,000 feet at $15.50 per foot; clearing the ditch out would make it eight feet wide and five feet deep. He said there was no guarantee about how much water the city lake would receive from the work, but said it would be a significant amount. Hill said blowing the ditch would help because over time silt builds up, creating a mountain in front of the entry to the lake, and until it’s gone the full effect of blowing the beaver dams couldn’t be felt.

After some discussion, a motion was made to have the city attorney draw up a contract and to proceed with the actions of destroying the dams and clearing the ditch, giving the mayor authority to enter into the agreement once the contract is completed. The motion was approved unanimously.

In other business, District D Councilman Mike Ellis noted that there are streets in his district in need of curbing and cleanup. He said that debris is in the roadway and leaves are piling up in the drainage systems. Ellis also noted a problem with graffiti off 7th street.

Mayor Moody addressed the council and those in attendance at the meeting saying that he had met with all department heads in the past week. “I challenged each department head over the next month to come up with goals and objectives that they would like to see in each department,” Moody said. “We want to make sure that we are utilizing the resources that we have and that we maximizing our labor and our resources and that we are getting the most that we can from each department. We’ve asked every department head in the city of LaFayette to be held accountable for their department and what’s done there. We want to run it effectively and we want to give the best service we can for every citizen of LaFayette.”

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