Water and Light reviews storm recovery process

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COLUMBIA- Columbia Water and Light discussed their storm recovery efforts today. 

Department officials said they followed regular protocol in restoring power to parts of town, but the process took longer than usual because of the extensive damage. 

"When you have extensive damage to an electrical system, it takes a long time. It actually takes longer to repair than it would be to build all new lines," Utility Services Specialist Connie Kacprowicz said. 

Kacprowicz said most of the department had never seen a storm that strong, but there were things the department could have done better. 

One area that could be improved for future storms is tree trimming. The department generally trims limbs and trees it thinks will fall in storms and ice.

The heavy winds in last week's storms caused uprooting, which requires more trimming than normal, something Kacprowicz said people normally don't approve of.

"Tree trimming can be controversial, people don't usually like us trimming their trees. It's more of a community decision on how much money we want to spend and how much the community wants to do as far as tree trimming."

Any changes to tree trimming policy would have to be made at the council level as a budget item. 

Since the department is a municipal agreement, all policy changes must go through city council. 

Kaprocwicz said the biggest issue was uprooted trees on power lines throughout the area. 

Many citizens have shown concern about above ground power lines. All new power lines are built above ground, but Water and Light cannot move existing above-ground power lines underground without taking the policy change to the city council and getting additional funding. 

The next step for Water and Light is to determine the cost of the operation, but that process will take another two to three weeks. operation cost.