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Parsons reviews recent storm crisis

July 7, 2012
By Joe Hoover Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

During this week's Parsons City Council Meeting, councilman Tim Auvil said the city's residents were never in danger of losing their access to potable water during the storm emergency.

"The emergency backup generators at the water plant and raw-water intake (devices) did their job. It was a blessing that the final components at the raw-water intake were installed just last month to make them fully functional," Auvil said during Tuesday's regular meeting.

Auvil also reported Parsons water customers are not under the statewide boil-water advisory, since their water service didn't go out.

For those still without power, Auvil said an emergency water source location has been established in Parsons.

"They can bring containers and retrieve water from the blue hydrant across from the former Parsons Advocate office on Second Street. Hamrick Public Service District has done the same at the St. George Park," Auvil said.

Auvil also said he wants the city to pursue purchasing generators to power the sewer plant.

After the severe storm June 29, the city could neither pump nor treat its residents' raw sewage, because the power outage rendered it nonoperational. Consequently, the city's raw sewage had to be drained into the Shavers Fork River in Parsons.

"If we had generators to power our sewer plant, we would not run into this kind of problem. We really need them," Auvil said.

City Administrator and Treasurer Jason Myers emphasized the discharge was not a violation of any regulations because the city maintains discharge permits that allow for the discharge of untreated sewage into the river.

"Practically every city has these kind of permits. It is just an unpleasant reality," Myers said.

Nonetheless, Auvil, Myers and Mayor Dorothy Judy agreed it would be best to limit the necessity of raw sewage discharge as much as possible.

If the city's sewer plant had backup generators, it would be able to continue processing residents' raw sewage through a power outage. Unfortunately, to equip the plant with generators would be considerably expensive. Auvil and Myers estimated the total cost of such a project would come to roughly $170,000.

"We would need to purchase a generator for the treatment plant and the pump station, and, really, we would need a third generator as a backup," Auvil said, adding that he would begin looking into the specifics of the project.

"This is something we really need to do," Auvil said.

Meanwhile, he advised no one to swim below the Shavers Fork town bridge, where Parsons' outfalls are located, for several days or until a heavy rain flushes the water.

Aside from the sewer plant being nonoperational, Parsons weathered last weekend's storm relatively well, compared to other areas in the region.

Judy said while the city did lose electricity for a while, no serious complications arose.

"We fared pretty well. We did not have any serious structure damage downtown, and our water plant had power because it has a generator

"Compared to the 1985 flood, this was just a bump in the road," she said.

Myers and Auvil said they were repeatedly impressed by the atmosphere of considerate cooperation that pervaded the area.

They, along with Judy and the rest of the council, extended a special thanks to John "Red" Lipscomb for serving Parsons above and beyond expectation during the storm crisis.

Lipscomb "was on vacation and also out of power, but (he) came out Saturday and Sunday to operate our plants. His positive attitude was apparent on ensuring this town's water supply. He also got our sewer plant and lift stations back on line immediately after power was restored," Auvil said.

"I am very proud of our community," Auvil said. "I saw neighbors helping each other. I saw people checking on our older citizens. In my area, all of the people with generators swapped them around with people who did not have generators to make sure they had the power they needed to keep their refrigerators and freezers cold."

Myers, who also works for the 911 Center, said he is exceedingly proud to live in Parsons.

"Everyone came together and worked really hard to keep our community together," Myers said. "Everyone was very supportive."



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