Memories of the Decade: Drought caused more damage than loss of water

Published 3:08 pm Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A series of significant events during the past 10 years associated with trying to provide and/or plan for having adequate water for the citizens of Polk County in the future has severely damaged relations between the county and the municipalities on this subject.

In the prior decade, the county had Columbus extend a water line to the high school. During this decade when water was needed for the new middle school, the county management in power at that time refused to have Columbus extend the water line from the high school to the middle school. Instead they opted to put in their own water source. I believe this single act of non-cooperation was the precursor for the ensuing lack of support/agreement between the county and the municipalities in all follow-on efforts to alleviate potential water shortages to those individual citizens with inadequate wells and for all county residents when severe drought conditions may arise.

Having attended most of the joint meetings between the county and the municipalities on this subject, I witnessed promises being made and broken on trying to obtain long-term water rights for everyone to share. The last major meeting on this subject, held at Tryon Elementary over 2 years ago, resulted in a huge blow-up with wild accusations being made by most of the major participants. I believe this set the stage for the failure of future discussions on the subject.

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Since the county could not get the municipalities to support them in buying the rights to Lake Adger water, they were forced to take the entire risk in obtaining same. I dont know the long-term implications of their action, but it seems foolish for the municipalities not to have signed on as users to this great resource. Instead, each municipality is going its own way to provide water to their immediate constituents. Whats equally disturbing is that the municipalities are averse to working with each other on providing back-up plans for potential droughts.

Yes, we are currently over the recent drought situation. But not planning for the future may spell disaster for some of the municipalities. Although many people believe the county may have over-extended themselves in risk by obtaining the water rights, at least they were willing to step up to the problem and not wait until a solution was not available. When management changes occur in the future, lets hope saner heads prevail in the municipalities.

Editors Note: The TDB has asked for area residents memories of the most significant events and people of the decade just now passing, the 00s. If you would like to share your thoughts on the decades most memorable events, please send them to attn: Memories.