A concerned citizen is fed up with her water problems and wants the Vaiden Board of Aldermen and Mayor Mel Hawthorne to take some sort of action.
Cassandra Cook went before the Vaiden Board about her water trouble. She said there are times her water is dirty, cloudy, and has a foul odor.
“Sometimes, we go days without water. Not just a few hours, not just a day, but we go days without water. Now, I have to try to go to some else’s house or use some personal time because I don’t have water,” she said.
Cook said she lives near her parents and all of her neighbors have the same problem.
“You wouldn’t want this water on your skin, you wouldn’t cook with it, and you wouldn’t put it down your throat,” she said.
She said during the winter months there is no water, and she was told it’s because people drip their water.
“I understand that, I mean some homes are older. Mine isn’t, but I don’t want my pipes to burst either,” she said. “But, in the summer time, there’s no cold weather. Why are we having to wait days then?”
Hawthorne explain that Vaiden’s booster lift stations are set up on a gravity flow and a forced flow.
“Those who are in town have a gravity flow, that’s why you see water shooting up when there’s a leak,” he said. “But, you all are on a forced flow, and there’s pressure that pushes the water through the pipes. When the lines are dead we don’t know where the leak is. So, we have to flush the pipes to see where the leak is to fix it.”
He said workers have to ride the roads and go through fields, cross ditches and creeks to figure out where the leak is in order to fix it.
“That’s why it takes so long for your water to come back on because we don’t know where it is. We have no way of knowing where the leak is in order for us to fix it. Fixing it is the easy part, the hard part is finding where it is.”
Hawthorne said the town wants to take the well by the prison offline and put the well behind the grocery store back on line, but to do that, the work is going to cost money that Vaiden doesn’t have.
“We’ve applied for grants, but we haven’t been successful in obtaining them yet,” he said. “The only other option we have to is to raise water rates.”
“Raise rates on what?” Cook asked.
“The water,” Hawthorne replied. “That’s our only other option.”
He added that it’s not what the board wanted to do.
He said Willis Engineering has been working on trying to fix the problem with the water but the financial side of the equation has it at a standstill.
“So, we’re trying to fix the problem, we’re just having to figure out where we’re going to get the money to fix the problem.”
Alderwoman Lesia Hemphill and Alderman Theo Purnell both said they’re experience dirty water and water with an odor as well.
“When I was taking care of my mom, I ran my water for a bath and I ran a tub full of dirty water,” Hemphill said. “We have the same problems in town, I haven’t experienced any cloudy water but I have experienced the dirty water and the water with a smell.”
“Mine was dirty also, but I flushed the line,” Purnell said. “It wasn’t dirty for long.”
Cook said she feels like there is a lack of communication and a lack of concern, although Hawthorne and the board acknowledged the lack of communication, he said it wasn’t a lack of concern it’s things happening, they’re just not out to the public yet.
Hemphill suggested doing a robo call when the leak happens, but City Clerk Sonya Greenleaf said robo calls would occur after the problem has been found and fixed, so it would help much but a robo call can be put in place when there’s a power outage.
Greenleaf said when people call in after the leak has happened, she has no way of knowing if it’s one person or a group of people and she has to wait until all the calls are in, in order to move forward.
“So, it takes some time. But, if you can get more people to call in when you do, it can help. You’re my robo call because you tell me when it happens, I don’t have a way of knowing when the leak happens,” she said.
Hawthorne said he would send out someone to look at Cook’s water and see what the source of the problem is.