• 55°

County adopts outdoor watering ordinance

Come 2011, the State of Georgia is imposing some new permanent restrictions on outdoor watering, although Decatur County officials said most citizens won’t be affected by them.

At their Tuesday meeting, county commissioners unanimously approved an outdoor landscape watering ordinance that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2011.

According to the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, the state government is requiring all counties and municipalities to adopt an ordinance detailing the watering restrictions.

The ordinance places restrictions on outdoor watering in the unincorporated portions of Decatur County; however, it would not apply to animal or crop farming, personal food gardens, hand watering with a hose, newly installed landscaping, horticultural crops and public recreational areas, among other exempted uses.

Non-exempted uses, such as use of lawn sprinklers, would be limited to the hours between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. daily. However, use of water withdrawn from private wells on individual properties is exempt.

According to County Administrator Tom Patton, there are only three subdivisions in Decatur County where residences share water from a common well.

The Code Enforcement Department of the Sheriff’s Office will be responsible for enforcing the ordinance.

County Attorney Brown Moseley described the penalties for violating the ordinance as light; a first-time offense would incur a fine of $100 or 24 hours in jail.

Moseley said a Magistrate Court judge would be able to set a sentence of community service for an offender.

In response to a question from County Commissioner Butch Mosely, Board Chairman Earl Perry said Decatur County ran the risk of losing eligibility for state-administered grant money if it did not adopt local ordinances mandated by state law.

According to the law, O.C.G.A 12-5-7, cities like Bainbridge, Attapulgus, Climax and Brinson will also have to adopt an ordinance detailing the new water restrictions. Since use of private wells is prohibited in Bainbridge, such an ordinance could restrict day-time watering within city limits, regardless of whether drought conditions were in effect or not.

Ford ambulance bid approved

After tabling consideration of bids on a remounted ambulance for EMS at its last meeting, county commissioners unanimously approved the low bid on Tuesday. The low bid on the least expensive of three engine options, a Ford 350 diesel engine, was submitted by Peach State Ambulance of Tyrone, Ga., for $87,240.

County officials had previously expressed concern about the long-term quality of Ford’s diesel engines in ambulances.

However, on Tuesday, Patton said he had since learned Ford’s 2011-model diesel engines were made by the company itself, whereas past engines had been made by a third party. Although the engine has only recently been released, Patton said he could not find a reason against approving the low bid.

Other business

In other business, county commissioners:

• Revised, by unanimous vote, the county’s human resources manual to allow county employees to accrue a maximum of three days of personal leave that could be rolled over year-to-year. Previously, any personal days not used by Dec. 31 went into a sick-day bank. Human Resources Director Marjorie Mayfield said the change should help employees spread out their personal days throughout the year, instead of during the holidays, when some departments need a minimum number of staff on-hand.

• Heard from Commissioner Russell Smith, who shared complaints he had received about the condition of Rich Road. Patton said it’s possible that a new type of crushed gravel mix could be put on the road or that it could be put on a list of future paving projects.