Leader Blues

Friday, June 15, 2007

TOP STORY >>Cabot beefs up water inspections

IN SHORT: Commissioners vote to hire new inspector, ban low-grade pipes and change procedures.

Leader staff writer

The commissioners who have run Cabot’s water and wastewater departments for the past year and a half say that to get maintenance costs down, they must take steps to ensure that the pipes that go in the ground are of good quality and are installed correctly.

How to achieve those goals consumed 95 percent of their two-hour meeting Thursday night and included such actions as hiring a second inspector, banning low-grade water pipe, and amending the developer policy to require inspection of pipe before it is covered.

“They have to call us before they start covering pipe or else they are subject to uncovering them,” Tim Joyner, general manager of Cabot WaterWorks, said about the amendment to the developer policy that was expected to be on the WaterWorks Website the next morning. “It’s becoming glowingly obvious that inspection is the most important thing we do,” Bill Cypert, commission secretary, said about hiring a second inspector. “One man can’t do it. I have my doubts that two men can do it.”

Also in the works is a five-mile jurisdiction outside the city so eventually Cabot WaterWorks would be able to require its standards be met even in subdivisions that might actually be in another water department’s territory.

To make sure that WaterWorks’ standards are followed in subdivisions that are inside the city now, Cypert and Gary Walker are trying to coordinate with Cabot Public Works, which issues building permits and certificates of occupancy, to ensure that no development can start if the developer has not complied with all the requirements set by Cabot WaterWorks.

Standing in a row on one side of Joyner’s office is broken plastic pipe of various sizes marked with the name of the subdivision where it was dug up and replaced.

It is all Class 200 pipe, Joyner said, and it is no longer allowed. From now on, only ductile iron and C-900 pipe is to be used in Cabot.

In other business, the commission approved a resolution to pay up to $10,000 in uninsured damage to homes caused by breaks in water and sewer lines if the breaks are due to negligence on the part of Cabot WaterWorks.
Along that same line, the commission also approved a property-restoration policy whereby WaterWorks would repair the damage from laying new lines in developed areas.

For example, disturbed sod would be replaced and damage to sidewalks and driveways would be repaired.
“We want to be good citizens and good neighbors and put things back right,” said Don Keesee.

The commission is not responsible for damage caused by sewer backflow because the city council has passed an ordinance declaring that the city is not responsible for backflow because homes are to be equipped with backflow preventers.
The commission is looking for a permanent home for WaterWorks which currently operates out of the city annex and the law office next door to the annex.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams wants the commission to buy property already owned by the city because he said it is not fair for taxpayers for water and wastewater money to go to the private sector when city property is available.

The commission considered purchasing the annex but decided not to after it appraised for about $650,000. The old city shop on Kerr also is available, but the appraisal has not been completed.

The land around the shop (16.5 acres, privately owned) is also for sale, but it is zoned residential and the city council has refused in the past to allow it rezoned for commercial or industrial use.

J.M. Park, commission chairman, said he didn’t think buying that property was a good idea until he looked at it and saw its potential.

“You’ve wanted to get everything under one roof. It would work,” he said to Joyner. “You could put the whole shooting match down there.”