The Clinton Water Department is looking into smaller, less costly clarifiers as the clock continues to run on state-mandated improvements to the system.

At the Jan. 10 City Council meeting, Water Department Manager Isaac Keeling said the system’s water loss for the previous month was 40 percent, due to several water line breaks.

He said water loss in 2011 was 61 percent, which included 208 million gallons of backwash. The 61 percent included losses at water meters, too, he said. The annual water loss should be no more than 20 percent, Keeling said.

Keeling said he is going to look at a clarifier that is 50 times smaller than the size he has been considering and would cost much less than the bigger ones, which carry a $3 million price tag. The city has received a grant for $1.4 million to help pay for the clarifiers.

In February 2012, the state Health Department gave the city two years to find a solution to the water problems that have plagued the system for several years. Customers were put on a boil order last week after heavy rain caused more turbidity than the treatment plant could handle. The boil order has since been lifted for those who receive their bills from the Clinton Water Department.

"We’re getting a real short time frame here," said Clinton Mayor Roger Rorie.

The council will hold a special meeting to discuss Water Department plans at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at the Municipal Airport meeting room, city Recorder/Treasurer Dena Thompson Malone said Tuesday. The meeting is open to the public.

Also at the Jan. 10 meeting, the council approved its 2013 budget with a unanimous vote; reappointed Pam Bone to the A&P Commission; and reappointed Jerry Evans to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The council also voted to charge a fee for using the city parks for weddings, reunions and such, though there will be no charge for non-profit groups. Zoning official Dwight Wilson suggested $25 to reserve the park. Anyone interested in using the park or new pavilion for an event should call City Hall at 745-8110.

Three new members are on the City Council this year. They are Nina Bonds Baker, Gayla Bradley and Jason Lynch. They join returning members Johnny Moore, Wendy Russ and Sam Ward.

The council meets the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the airport meeting room. The meetings are open to the public.