(C. Proxmire, June 11, 2013)
“Uh-oh.” That’s the initial response given by Department of Public Works Director Loyd Cureton when he learned that a Ferndale 115 News reader had posted a picture of sprinklers turned on during yesterday’s rainstorm.
Whitney Lemelin shared the photo, stating “High water bills? Sprinklers were on when we went into the library…still on an hour later when I came out. Was raining the entire time.” Responses flooded in about the obvious waste of water.
Cureton and his crew realized they’d made a mistake later in the day. In a follow-up phone call Cureton said that workers had turned on the sprinkler system for the first time this season, and were in the process of testing the timers. “Spring and early summer have been mild and cool so we didn’t need them. This is pretty late in the season but we were holding off as long as we could. It just happened to be bad timing.”
This is Cureton’s first summer working here in Ferndale. The sprinkler system was installed before his time, and the test run was his first experience with the system. “I don’t think we need to have this on a timer,” he said. “There are gauges you can use that only water when the grass needs it. I’ve already been talking with the Water Department Head about how much it would be to install them.”
Having the embarrassment of a Facebook photo making the rounds has strengthened his inclination. “Someone should have noticed the sprinklers and had the ability to over-ride them. It was a mistake that I didn’t catch, but we certainly don’t want to water the grass in the rain.”
The DPW offices are located on Cambourne Street, and the sprinklers were going at City Hall on E. 9 Mile. Cureton took over as DPW Director in December, and is still discovering and evaluating previous DPW policies, procedures and equipment. He hopes that adding gauges will save the city money and prevent further waste.
The incident has re-ignited talk about the cost of water for residents. Earlier this year City Council began collaborating with neighboring cities to gather data on water rates. They also reduced delinquency fees, governed over the installation of new digital meter reading equipment, and commissioned a study on the water fund to determine the health of the fund. For more information on water rates, see our previous stories at http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/04/29/water-bill-worries-explained/ and http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/04/03/city-considers-water-rates-removes-fees/.
To read about DPW Director Loyd Cureton, see our previous interview at http://oaklandcounty115.com/2012/12/05/new-dpw-director-makes-himself-at-home/.
If you see anything odd around town, feel free to send pictures to email@example.com. Staff members at City Hall are also happy to hear about questionable situations. The main number for City Hall is (248) 546-2525.