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As wells run dry, the city comes to the rescue
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While all Northeast Georgians continue to suffer through a drought, the Gainesville Public Utilities Department is having to come to the rescue of some Hall County residents whose wells have run dry.

The department's plans to build approximately 30,039 linear feet of water lines in the next two years include extending water service to residents whose wells have run dry in the southwestern end of the county, said Tim Collins, assistant director of the city's Public Utilities Department.

Usually, residents who sign petitions asking the city to extend water service to them wait years before the city's pipelines reach their homes.

Some of the areas where the Gainesville Public Utilities Department plans to extend service in the next year are those that have been planned for a while.

Residents of Shirley Road and Indian Circle are slated to receive city water service by June 2010 after waiting more than 10 years on the department's list of planned upgrades and water service extensions, Collins said.

"Normally, it takes some time to get to the top of (the list)," Collins said.

But nearly 20 residents who petitioned for water service in the southwestern end of the county near Lights Ferry Road were moved to the top of the list after some of their wells went dry earlier this year, Collins said.

"There seems to be a good bit of need in that area - immediate need," Collins said. "Sometimes, if you wait ... people have to make other arrangements, build new wells and so they may not need you once you get there if you wait for a longer period of time."

The dry wells near Lights Ferry Road are not an isolated incident. From July 2007 to July 2008, 51 people became customers of the Gainesville Public Utilities Department, simply because of a dry well.

"That's a fair number in one year," Collins said.

The department added another 21 new water meters from July to September for other residents whose wells had gone dry, Collins said.

"We assume if it stays dry, (the customer base) will continue to rise. ... If, you know, we don't get rain," Collins said.
Despite being moved to the top of the list of priorities, residents with dry wells near Lights Ferry Road will have to wait until at least the spring for the utilities department to send pipelines their way.

The department's engineers are currently working on the designs, but Collins said the construction contract will not go out for bid until January. The soonest construction on those pipelines can begin is early spring, he said.

Until then, those residents will have to make arrangements for a temporary water supply, Collins said.

"I know that they were trying to work out something until we could get water in down there," Collins said.