Reports of discolored water in Starkville’s pipes are at their lowest level since February. Now, with a complete flushing staff, the city is ready to lessen the incidents even more.
Doug Devlin, director of public services, will present the city’s plan for unidirectional flushing at the Board of Aldermen meeting at 5:30 p.m. today. Devlin said the public is encouraged to attend, as they’ll need to remain aware of planned flushes that may cause sudden instances of discolored water.
“The first step is basically logging complaints on a map and knowing where to start,” Devlin said. “Then, we shut off valves coming from other sources in the city and isolate the area to flush it. The biggest challenge we face is finding a lot of these valves on maps. A lot of them have been paved over.”
Over a 39-day stretch since a water leak repair at Jackson Street and Highway 182, brown water reports dropped from 100 to 22. Devlin said the majority of the city’s reports have occurred in the northeast part of the city, north of Highway 12 and east of Starkville Road.
Having the problem in one sector of the city will make the job easier, Devlin said.
“It’ll especially make it easier to make a bigger impact quicker,” he said.
Starkville’s water woes started in the spring with sporadic reports of rust-colored water. Increased chlorine levels mandated by the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency caused increased oxidation of iron deposits in some of the city’s lines. The dingy water, which city officials contend is safe to use, became more prevalent during the summer.
Starkville’s water source is an aquifer, and traces of iron occur naturally. The water is processed through sand filters at the city’s treatment facility before it is pumped through city pipes. The iron deposits that are turning the water brown are exclusively caused by older pipes, Devlin said.
The water flushed will not be billed, and the only loss the city might take is with the chemicals used to treat it. Still, Devlin said it will cost less to flush the water the proactively rather than reactively.
Also on the agenda, the board will hold the first public hearing to amend its peddlers ordinance to allow greater flexibility for mobile food vendors. The amendment is proposed by Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas, who said the city should make it easier for street vendors to sell in a parking lot.
The proposed ordinance change would allow peddlers to sell from 9 a.m. to a half hour before sunset. Peddlers would be permitted to use a single public parking space as long as they do not impede the use of adjacent parking spaces. Peddlers would not be able to remain in one location for more than 12 hours.
“Anyone who travels and watches enough TV, your more urban and progressive cities are allowing food carts,” Dumas said. “It’s being pushed for and asked for within our local restaurant scene.”