09/18/07 — Failed flood control unit costing Goldsboro millions of gallons

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Failed flood control unit costing Goldsboro millions of gallons

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on September 18, 2007 2:11 PM

Goldsboro's water worries could soon be reduced.

Although there is little rain in the immediate forecast, city officials learned Monday night that there might be a way to retrieve 38 million gallons of water daily that is currently bypassing the city's intake system.

Public Utilities Director Karen Brashear told members of the City Council that a failed flood control structure is allowing the water to bypass the city's water intake system. The structure is only supposed to be utilized during flood stages, but because of its age and dwindled status, water is filling the structure instead of moving downstream.

Mrs. Brashear said the structure is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was built in 1946. Improvements were made in 1964 and 1982, but nothing has been done since then.

The city offered to fix the structure itself so the water could be retrieved quickly, but the corps has refused.

"They told me that because it was a federal structure, they had to fix it themselves," Mrs. Brashear said.

And the corps is trying to do just that, she added.

"What I did find out from the corps is that they will repair it," she said. "They are looking for emergency funding right now to repair it."

The plans are to sandbag the area to keep water out for at least a little while until the corps can adequately repair the flood control structure.

"We want to get the permit very soon to start working on this," Mrs. Brashear said.

The process could take time, city officials said.

"We are having to jump through some hoops," City Manager Joe Huffman said.

Mrs. Brashear said she had no idea on the time table of the project and said she was meeting with corps officials today to find out more.

The failed flood control structure was not all she had to say about the water problem.

Brashear also said she plans to seek more help from county water systems, enough to provide more than three million gallons per day if necessary,

Brashear also said the city could get an emergency river pump permit from the corps if a diesel pump was needed. She explained that if the water level decreases past a certain point, gravity is no longer pulling the water into the city, and a pump is necessary.

But the corps has requirements the city must meet, she said. Among the conditions is the usage of the pump for a maximum of two weeks.

"If we need the pump, we may need it for longer than that," she said.

She added that the Little River is not a viable emergency water sources since the river literally has little to offer.

The council decided to move onward with Mrs. Brashear's recommendations to ensure the city would have water even in a crisis.

"I'm not so sure it's going to be so much better before it gets worse," Councilman Jimmy Bryan said. "I'm of the opinion we need to prepare as much as we can as early as we can."

With that being the consensus, council members also made the mandatory conservation ordinance official.

"This is not going away," Mayor Al King said. "It's going to follow us. Water is going to be a problem for this part of the country for a while."

Mandatory conservation measures and penalties for water abuse can be found at the city's Web site at www.ci.goldsboro.nc.us.

City officials said they would like to see consumption fall from its current seven million gallons a day to five or six million gallons a day.

They added that fines will be increased if consumption does not decrease.

In other business, the council approved the condemnation and demolition of four dilapidated dwellings located at 114 S. Slocumb St., 210 N. Carolina St., 807 W. Paul St. and 1013 Slaughter St.

The owner of 807 W. Paul St. still lives in the building, Chief Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra told the council. Cianfarra said that he would make sure the owner has a place to live before he demolishes the house.

The council held four public hearings, two on zoning requests, one on a conditional use permit and one on the city's consolidated annual performance and evaluation report.

The first was a hearing to change property located on the northwest corner of Royall Avenue and Jefferson Avenue from neighborhood business to general business. Two people spoke for the change, and two people spoke against it.

The second hearing was held to change a property located on the south side of Central Heights Road between McLain Drive and North Oak Forest Road from residential to office and institutional. No one spoke for or against the proposal.

The third hearing was held for an owner requesting a conditional use permit to allow the construction and operation of a concrete plant on the north side of U.S. Highway 70 West between Springwood Drive and J&L Drive. No one spoke.

The last hearing was held for the city's performance report, and no one spoke for or against the measure.