Several times I have seen the statement that the Town of Pinedale uses eight times as much water on average than other towns with similar populations. On the surface, this suggests that Pinedale residents use more water than they should. While this may be true, there are some other questions that should be considered before deciding that individual water meters and higher rates will correct the discrepancy.
The first question is, how many, if any, of the towns used for comparison have to use “bleeders” to protect their systems during the freezing months? Next, what is the most accurate estimate for the amount of water being wasted by “bleeders”? What is the cost to pre-treat this water prior to entering the town infrastructure? Are all of the “bleeders” discharging into the sewer system? If so, what is the added cost at the sewage treatment plant for handling this volume? Would it cost less to lower the problem lines so “bleeders” would be unnecessary?
I would guess that the $3,000 per connection for a meter would cover a substantial portion of the cost to lower the individual service lines. The main lines are all being replaced anyway, so there shouldn’t be a large added cost to lower those that are part of the problem. As an “enterprise” account, the water system revenues and expenses must be equal. How will the “bleeders” expense be covered? Will “non-bleeders” have to pay the same as “bleeders”?
If the expense will be included in overall operations, why can’t one or two master meters be installed in lieu of all those individual meters at $3,000 each? Total expenses divided by the master meter total gives the cost per gallon and your current rate categories could be used. If the “bleeders” are necessary due to the way the streets were constructed, then perhaps the expense for them should be paid out of the street budget. Has anyone brought up this issue with the state and/or federal agencies that are requiring the changes?
One last question – of the $11 million-plus infrastructure improvement estimate that is included in the account, how much is anticipated to be covered by grants? n
John Kauchich, PinedaleFor the complete article see the 05-11-2012 issue.
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