Long Beach water woes could jeopardize fire fighting ability

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -  Days of no rain leave lawns thirsting for water.  These days, many sprinklers are working overtime.

"You see them watering and it ends up in the street, up and down the street. That's not necessary," said Long Beach Mayor Billy Skellie.

Mayor Skellie said many people in his city are leaving the water running for too long. The high usage is causing water levels to drop.

"Our elevated tanks are not at capacity, and therefore, there's a strain on each tank and each well to keep them filled," said Skellie.

Firefighters say it's a matter of safety. Low water pressure could hurt their ability to put out a blaze.

"About three days ago, we got a pressure drop from around 70 pounds, which is the normal pressure on our lines, to around 45. We had to kick on all the wells," said Long Beach Fire Chief George Bass.  "We were very fortunate we didn't have a fire, and very concerned with the levels as they were."

The mayor said one reason why residents are using too much water is because homeowners are paying a fixed rate per month, instead of being on a metered system.  That's why he's asking citizens to take some responsibility and conserve.

"I don't expect them to lose their yards and gardens and all, but I do expect them to use some common sense and conservation and courtesy for everybody," Skellie said.

And if residents don't do it voluntarily, the city may be forced to issue a moratorium on watering.

"There could be a fine," said Skellie.  "We certainly don't want to go there because we don't think, we just don't want to have to do that. I think that people will cooperate. We'll get this under control until we get a good rain."

Mayor Skellie said the city will be installing a new water tank and well. That should help ease the situation, but the project will take about six months.

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