CRESTVIEW Public Works staffers will receive assistance from an outside contractor to complete state-mandated annual checks of the city's estimated 9,000 backflow water valves.


CRESTVIEW Public Works staffers will receive assistance from an outside contractor to complete state-mandated annual checks of the city's estimated 9,000 backflow water valves.



Public Works Director Wayne Steele said during a city council meeting Monday that this is the first year his department has undertaken the inspections and therefore had no previous data to work from to judge how long they would take.



With only about 200 of the devices inspected since the start of the year, the department's limited staff has fallen behind on the inspections, and with developments being constructed, more backflow valves are going online almost continuously, Steele said.



The valves prevent contaminated water from flowing from a residence or business back into the water system.



The Florida Department of Environmental Protection requires annual inspection on each backflow valve. Each inspection takes about 30 minutes, Steele said.



"You see the dilemma I have," Steele told the city council at its Monday meeting. "We just don't have the staff. As of now, I'm providing help to Ms. (Betsy) Roy (Crestview city clerk) to read meters. We cannot just apply this workload to our existing workload."



In response to a query by Councilman Joe Blocker, Steele assured the council that a contractor's inspection services would not cost residents more than the $40 inspection fee established by city ordinance.



"My personal feeling is, if we need some additional assistance to make sure we're adhering to our own ordinance, we have to determine if it makes more sense to hire contracted help or hire the staff to see this through," Council President Robyn Helt said.



Councilman Shannon Hayes moved to allow Steele's department to engage a contractor through the remainder of the budget year. The city would then monitor the inspection progress and determine during the budgeting process for 2013-14 whether to hire additional city inspectors.



Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.