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Total outdoor water ban issued for city and surrounding water systems
By Eileen Bailey
FULTON -- As residents of Fulton and surrounding water systems face another total outdoor water ban, officials have begun seeking bids for a $5.5 million project that would provide more water to the area.
The water supply to the seven water systems managed by Fulton dropped to a low level Tuesday forcing the board of aldermen to issue an outdoor water ban, said Mayor Charlie McCarthy.
"The water level dropped to five feet in one tank and two feet in the reserve," he said. "It has dropped since last Friday."
The city had been operating under a partial ban with residents being allowed to water outdoors only one day a week. "We thought we were doing real good on our water by watering only one day a week," he said.
Water levels for drinking and household use still are fine, he said, but outdoor use depletes the water supply. In addition to private residences, the city also has asked manufacturers to cut back on water use, he said.
McCarthy said the city is doing everything it can to conserve water.
Work crews built a reservoir that is spring fed and uses water from this to keep things alive at the city park.
The ban affects all of the residents on the Fulton, Clay, North Clay, New Salem, Tilden, Bean's Ferry and Mount Vernon water systems.
"It has been one nightmare after another," he said.
All systems almost a go
As the city struggles with the daily water problems, officials are preparing to solve the problem once and for all.
McCarthy said Tuesday marked the start of a $5.5 million water project.
The city began advertising for the project Tuesday with bids expected to be approved on Sept. 21. McCarthy said there will be a pre-bid conference Sept. 5.
The project, which has been in the works for the past year and will tie the Fulton water system to the Northeast Mississippi Regional Water Supply District in Peppertown, will be divided into phases.
The first phase will be to place 18-inch pipe from the water supply district heading east along old Highway 78, which dead ends into the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The pipe will then turn south and run along the waterway to south of the Fulton Lock. From there, a 24-inch line will be placed 12 feet under the bottom of the waterway and run from west to east. Once it crosses the waterway, it will become an 18-inch line and go to the original Mueller Brass property.
The remaining phases will follow, he said.
Other work with the project includes having a line that will tie into a new one-million-gallon ground water concrete storage tank. McCarthy said a new pumping station that will take the water from the tank to the American Legion ground tank will be constructed at this site. From this site another line will run south on the east side of the Mississippi Railroad to a point near the Wal-Mart shopping center.
From the American Legion tank, water will be pumped north to the elevated tank north of Fulton's Main Street then onto the Clay pumping station.
In addition to a constant shortage of water, the city will need additional water flow for a new industrial site east of the city. A smaller line will run down Harden Chapel Road to provide water to that area.
But these changes, which should take six to eight months to complete after bids are awarded, do not come without a price.
McCarthy said the city has secured several grants to help fund the project and is awaiting approval for two more grants. In addition to the grants, the city has borrowed $2 million that will be paid back through an increase in water rates.
The city has sent the proposed rate changes to the Public Service Commission for their approval later this month. If approved, McCarthy said the residential rates within the city limits will increase from $9.20 a month to $12.95 a month for a minimum of 3,000 gallons.
For the water customers of the other systems, rates will all be $17 a month. McCarthy said customers in those areas are now paying rates ranging from $10.20 to $17 a month.
Customers have received letters notifying them of the possible changes pending Public Service Commission approval.
"We had hopes we would not go up on our rates, but because of the cost and in order to provide water it was something that had to be done," he said.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 17, 2000