Water shortage plan adopted

Published 12:06 am Saturday, January 29, 2011

WINDSOR – The Bertie County Commissioners heard what they needed to know about a Water Shortage Response Plan here Monday.

During their second meeting of January, the board took up the plan for the second time. In the first meeting, held January 10, Water Department Supervisor Ricky Spivey was not able to attend. Also, County Attorney Lloyd Smith had issues with some of the language in the plan.

Commission Chairman L.C. Hoggard III decided to put the matter on hold until Spivey could attend and the board could get a better understanding of the need for such a plan.

That understanding was given Monday.

Spivey said he and Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb had been asked to consider the plan by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“We are in good shape as far as the drought goes,” he told the board.

Still, the state agency wanted all counties to adopt a plan in case there were issues with water shortage, Spivey said.

“So, we are in no danger of a drought, but if we eventually are, what does this do for us,” Commissioner Norman M. Cherry Sr. asked.

Spivey said in the event there was a drought, the county would have to monitor the use of water and the plan provided guidelines for such monitoring.

Smith said he had reviewed the plan and, as he had at the previous meeting, said he believed there were problems with the plan as it was presented.

“I don’t think you have the authority to impose a criminal penalty,” he said. “This is a cookie-cutter plan that is used all over the state and I know it has been adopted many times, but I don’t think the legislation gives you that authority.”

Smith said he thought the fines – which were to be levied for the second violation during mandatory reductions and first violations for emergency restrictions and water rationing – were not permissible unless the county adopted an ordinance.

Commissioner Rick Harrell said he felt the county could accomplish what was needed without a fine.

“If you catch me using water when I shouldn’t be and tell me that if I do it again, you’re going to cut my water off, I’m going to say ‘yes sir’ and stop,” Smith said. “I think having your water cut off is a bigger drawback than a fine.”

Cherry said the fine could also be used to allow the person to continue to do something that was not allowed.

Lamb suggested that changing the fine to a warning which could lead to discontinuation of water service would be the best option.

The board agreed to make the changes and then Harrell made a motion to adopt the plan with those changes. It was seconded by Cherry and passed without objection.