published Sunday, July 13th, 2014

McCaysville, Ga., still short on water; Copperhill, Tenn., boil and conserve notices lifted

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To find out more about water supply problems in the two towns:

• Copperhill City Hall: 423-496-5141

• McCaysville City Hall: 706-492-4921

Water is still short in McCaysville, Ga., where rain continues to have a detrimental effect on supplies.

Neighboring Copperhill, Tenn., which gets its water from McCaysville, is back to normal, officials there say, but McCaysville officials say they're still telling their customers to conserve.

Copperhill City Clerk Amber Bledsoe said notices for residents to boil and conserve water were lifted a week ago, but Copperhill resident Martha Murray said she wishes there was better communication between the city and its residents.

"It's been a total nightmare," said Murray, who has lived in downtown Copperhill since her mother, a 20-year resident, died five years ago.

Murray has been buying bottled water and limiting her use even since the notices were lifted, she said, noting she only learned by chance that the notices had been issued in the first place.

She said many downtown Copperhill residents are elderly, don't have Internet or email and aren't necessarily checking local media for water status updates.

"It's a health issue," she said. "I think the city needs to come up with a better way to tell us."

Bledsoe said officials try to notify water customers through media outlets, but there's no system to use for contacting customers.

"It is what it is, unfortunately," she said.

In McCaysville, where most of the water utility's 2,800 customers live, City Clerk Nancy Godfrey said a malfunctioning pump was repaired and several leaks were discovered and fixed.

Even so, residents there are still being asked to be stingy with the water, Godfrey said.

"We were able to give water to Copperhill again," she said. "But we're not quite out of the woods yet."

McCaysville officials say heavy rains a couple of weeks ago made the Toccoa River so muddy the treatment system couldn't keep up, especially with the loss of a pump. That triggered the shortage.

Now that repairs are complete, water storage levels are returning to normal, Godfrey said.

The rains this week didn't generate too much mud, but the weather makes supply predictions dicey, Godfrey said.

"It depends on the weather and usage," she said.

Meanwhile, McCaysville water customers should not fill swimming pools, water lawns or wash cars while the conservation notice stands, she said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or twitter.com/BenBenton or www.facebook.com/ben.benton1 or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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