SUD Announces Water Restrictions
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
by Leslie LytlemMessenger Staff Writer
At the Nov. 21 meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District of Franklin and Marion Counties, SUD manager Ben Beavers announced SUD had joined the neighboring water utilities and implemented mandatory water use restrictions. As of Nov. 1, SUD had 160 days of water left. Lake O’Donnell was two feet below the full mark and Lake Jackson was down 22 feet.
The restrictions prohibit washing sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, tennis courts, patios, or other hard surfaces except for sanitary or safety purposes; filling or re-filling of swimming pools; non-commercial and commercial washing of motor vehicles, trailers and boats; use of water for dust control or construction compaction; and use of water for firefighting training. Watering of fairways and athletic fields is restricted to the hours of 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. Watering of lawns, flower gardens, trees, shrubs, etc., is restricted to assigned days of the week from 5 a.m. to 10a.m.; addresses ending in an even number may water on Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday, and addresses ending in an odd number may water on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.
Following the drought of 2007 area water utilities adopted a linked drought management plan. “We’re in a lot better shape than we were in 2007,” Beavers said. “Big Creek is the worst off.” The Big Creek utility is considering pumping water from a nearby state owned lake. At the 60 day supply level, SUD’s drought management plan calls for penalties for violating use restrictions. “No significant rain is forecasted until January,” Beavers cautioned, encouraging customers to adopt conservative water use practices so SUD’s water supply will last longer.
Discussing the 2017 budget, Beavers said water sales trended below budget throughout 2016, and he’ll base the 2017 budget on 2016 sales, at present 3.5 percent below 2015. Beavers attributes the difference to decreased irrigation water sales since the University has relied on its irrigation pond for most irrigation needs. To offset decreased sales, Beavers intends to decrease capital improvement plan (CIP) and operation budget expenses. The draft of the 2017 CIP budget is 13 percent below the 2016 budget, with the biggest ticket item being $150,000 for repairs to the Depot Branch sewer line. The board discussed a small one percent increase in customers’ water use rate. Beavers pointed out a one percent increase “won’t make up for the decrease in water sales.”
Beavers will present the final budget for approval at the next meeting on Dec. 13.
The SUD Board is seeking three nominees for the office of commissioner. Prospective candidates should call the SUD office at (931) 598-5611 before the Dec. 13 meeting. Voting begins on Jan. 5 and ends at the close of the business day Jan. 24. Commissioners earn a $50 stipend for each meeting they participate in.
Beavers said all permits for the Midway pressure boosting station had been approved, and the engineer assigned to the project was seeking bids. The project will provide a much needed increase in water pressure in the Midway community. “My goal is to have the pressure boosting station substantially completed by the end of the year,” Beavers stressed.
The board passed a resolution honoring William “Jerry” Johnson who retired on Nov. 1 after 35 years of service. Johnson started on the field crew, earned his water plant operator’s license, and rose to the position of assistant manager. Johnson declined the offer of a celebration in honor of his retirement, asking only for “a key to Lake O’Donnell and Lake Jackson so I can fish.”