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New well ordinance will protect city's water system

By By ANNA M. LEE Assistant Editor
At its Feb. 10 meeting, the Brewton City Council adopted an ordinance to prohibit the digging of water wells within city limits.
The intent of the ordinance is to prevent damage to the city water system that could be caused by well digging.
Brewton's well ordinance was based on a combination of ordinances existing in Tuscaloosa and Dothan, Madden said.
The problem with digging wells in the city is that it can cause contamination in the city's water supply, and there's a risk of cross connection between a well and the city's water system.
Although Brewton has some of the best water rates in the state of Alabama, Madden said, some people want to dig their own wells to avoid paying the city's water fees. But the damage that could be caused to the city's water supply would mean higher rates for residents who do use the city's system.
The new well ordinance will not affect existing wells within the city limits -- Madden estimates that there are 15 to 20 -- except in the case of repair or re-digging of the wells.
Though the city has not had an incident of contamination from a well, there was a case of cross connection about one and a half years ago, Madden said. Water from the city's system flowed through the well and registered on the city water meter, resulting in a large unexpected water bill for the resident.
Anyone who digs in the city limits has to acquire a boring permit, approved by the water board and superintendent and costing $1000, Madden said.
Plans for drilling must be must be engineered and meet Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) specifications. Also, the driller must have a bond of $1 million dollars, and if anything happens to the city water system, they are responsible.