Outraged Pulaski County Farmers Beat Out Irrigation Ordinance

Pulaski County Commissioners Tracey Shorter, Kenneth Boswell, Michael Tiede

Farmers in Pulaski County once again voiced their outrage to a previously-drafted ordinance prohibiting the spray of water from irrigation system end-guns onto roads. The concerned residents filled the county commissioners’ meeting room in the courthouse on Monday to express their opposition to the ordinance, which they claim is detrimental to their livelihood and singles out farmers.

The ordinance was originally drafted by the commissioners because of complaints from irritated taxpayers who had driven beneath a stream of water from irrigation systems. More than one person complained that they had been driving a motorcycle or convertible and had gotten drenched from the water spraying onto the road, and the commissioners felt that the ordinance was necessary to prevent an accident in the future.

What the commissioners did not expect was such an outpouring of opposition from county residents, such as Glen Bode, who says the ordinance would negatively affect farmers – the livelihood of the agricultural county. He says the farmers need support from the community and county officials to prevent over-regulation, which he says could place significant burden on farmers.

“I understand this would be one of the most restrictive ordinances in the country on irrigation. If it was enforced completely, it would place a significant economic burden on many Pulaski County farmers,” said Bode. “Understanding agriculture’s importance to this county and that most farm operators are good community citizens who want to work with their neighbors, I’m convinced that this restrictive ordinance would be a detriment to the future prosperity of your county and its citizens. I ask that you fully consider the consequences of this proposed ordinance, and I ask that you please vote it down.”

Commissioner Ken Boswell was quick to remind the audience that there is currently no effective ordinance, and what they had done was merely draft an ordinance. Sometimes, Boswell said, you have to shake the tree to see what falls, and by doing so they have felt out the community’s feelings towards the ordinance. He went on to say that while there is no ordinance in effect currently, that does not mean the issue won’t be brought up again.

“Right now there is no ordinance in effect. It’s dead. There is nothing that anybody can enforce. Will it become conversation a month from now? Anything could become conversation again, but at this point in time, there is no ordinance [regarding irrigation systems] in effect in Pulaski County that can be upheld,” said Boswell.

After further pressuring from the audience, the commissioners made a motion stating the ordinance, as written, died for lack of a motion on the third reading – thus putting to rest any concerns farmers may have of their irrigation systems catching a fine. After a round of applause, it was again mentioned that in order for the ordinance to be brought up again it would need to go through the entire process from square one, including revision, republication in the paper, a public hearing, and other necessary steps.