11/05/07 — Sanitary districts keep eye on water

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Sanitary districts keep eye on water

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 5, 2007 1:46 PM

With water becoming an increasingly important issue and a cause for concern, board members and officials with Wayne County's sanitary districts think that this might be the year people begin to pay attention to what they do.

On Tuesday, voters in Wayne County will have the opportunity to cast ballots in four sanitary district board elections -- Fork Township, Southern Wayne, Northwestern Wayne and Southwestern Wayne.

The people they elect will then have the responsibility to make sure the water continues to flow.

"Our main goal is to supply Wayne County with good, clean drinking water," said Ray Sullivan, member of the Belfast-Patetown Sanitary District board, whose seat is not up for election this year. "We make all the decisions regarding the water. It works just like any other board."

Belfast-Patetown is part of Wayne Water Districts, which also serves Eastern Wayne and Southeastern Wayne, as well as Southwestern and Northwestern Wayne sanitary districts. The other two districts in the county, Fork Township and Southern, are independent.

Of the districts with boards up for election, Fork Township serves about 4,400 customers, Southern Wayne about 2,700, Southwestern Wayne about 1,360, and Northwestern Wayne approximately 1,940.

And while the districts vary in size and makeup, the boards of each have similar duties and requirements.

Members are responsible for deciding water and sewer rates, employee salaries, rules and regulations for billing and cutoff procedures, what kind and where meters should be located, how new developments should be tied on, and when and where new water and sewer lines should be run.

They also are responsible for determining what conservation restrictions are needed and how their districts should work with others in times of need.

"They run the water system," Fork Township manager Tony McCabe said.

But, he continued, their roles have largely been ignored over the years.

"I don't think people are aware of exactly what goes on," he said. "People are not as involved in the sanitary districts as (they are in) other areas.

"A lot of folks, nowadays, as long as the water's running, they don't have a lot of issues. We're in the public eye, but they don't think about it."

But now, even though the water districts have only asked for voluntary conservation measures because their deep well supplies are still in good shape, the drought may be starting to generate a little more interest in what the boards do.

"We pay attention to that which is in front of us," said Southern Wayne board member Dale Gainey, who also is not up for re-election. "And as the need for water and the need for sewer increase as the population increases, all of a sudden people are realizing it's something that needs to be looked after. We have a lot of people depending on the water being there when they turn on the tap."

And, with the drought likely to continue and the county's population likely to increase, making sure that water is there is going to require future boards to seriously address issues of conservation, cooperation and expansion.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen, but it could affect us in the future. People are going to have to have a different mindset," McCabe said.

That means, Sullivan added, that more than anything, voters need to be looking for representatives who are forward-thinkers.

"I think they should want people who will look out for the future," he said.

Candidates for sanitary districts are:

Fork Township -- two seats

*Andy G. Hartley (incumbent)

*David B. Jackson (incumbent)

Northwestern Wayne -- five seats

*Walter F. Bridgers (incumbent)

*William "Bill" Lynch Jr. (incumbent)

*David W. Pittman (incumbent)

*Kenneth A. Tucker (incumbent)

*James S. Kirby (incumbent)

*Wayne Aycock Jr.

Southern Wayne -- three seats

*William "Bill" Harrell (incumbent)

*Scott T. Ingram

Southwestern Wayne -- five seats

*David A. Bennett (incumbent)

*Alan R. Lumpkin (incumbent)

*Jean L. Hood (incumbent)

*Ruby Gail Minchew