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County to farmers: don’t water the road

Farmers whose irrigation systems leave standing water on county-maintained roads could soon face penalties, if the Decatur County Board of Commissioners approves a proposed ordinance.

County Administrator Tom Patton said at a Tuesday, Sept. 29, work session that several irrigation systems in the county were spraying water across paved and graded county roads. These wet roads were dangerous in two ways — first, the county could be held liable if any accidents were to occur as a result of the slippery surface; and second, the water was causing physical damage to the roads.

“In (Commissioner Oliver) Sellers’ district, the roads crew spent literally a week rebuilding a road, and the very next day it was a muddy mess again,” Patton said.

County Public Works Superintendent Dennis Medley provided the board with a proposed ordinance that he and Planning Director Paul Soudi had recently drafted. He also provided similar ordinances that are already in effect in Seminole County and Miller County.

Under the Decatur County proposed ordinance, all irrigation systems located adjacent to a county road must be equipped with an end-gun shutoff system, which will discontinue the system’s operation when it is in a location that might spray water onto public roads or adjacent ditches.

According to the proposed ordinance, first-time violators of the ordinance would have 30 days to install the correct system. Upon a second violation, a $600 fine would be imposed; and a third violation would bring a $1,000 fine. The proposed ordinance also states that “each day a violation continues to exist may be deemed to be a separate violation of this ordinance.”

“I just ask that we look at this ordinance,” Medley said. “I think this is something the county needs.”

Commissioner Dr. Earl Perry said he wanted the ordinance to be placed on an upcoming board meeting agenda as soon as possible. Board Chairman Dr. David C. “Butch” Mosely asked for Medley to send a copy of the proposed ordinance to the Georgia Farm Bureau and other farm-based organizations for their review.

“I’d like us to see if there’s anything we’ve overlooked,” he said.

Any proposed ordinance must be approved by the county Planning Department, and it would then be sent to the full board. The board will then hold two public readings in two separate meetings before voting — it may choose to vote immediately after the second public reading.