Pine's water wars seem to be endless. This year's battle has been heated to boiling overhe controversial K-2 Well. Although the K-2ell has created much noise, he real issue is not the K-2 Well but the purchase of the Pine Water Company and the Strawberry Water Company. I urge Pine/Strawberry area residents to not be distracted by all the noise and remember to ask and get some answers to some very important questions before makingp your mind about the proposed purchase. Among the questions I would like answered are the following:
Can our budgets afford anncreaseo our taxes to pay for the purchase? If we can afford a tax increase, what is the top limit of what we can afford? The last time a water company purchase was put before the community, liens placed on property were also part of the financing of the purchase. Will a lien be placed on my property, if the water companies are purchased. How large will the lien be? How will I pay off the lien?
How will water user rates be structured? As I understand it, Strawberry and Pine residents do not have the same water user rates. Will a different rate structure be in place for the two communities? Strawberry currently has no water-use restrictions, Pine does. Will water use restrictions be the same for the two communities? Is it fair for a tax supported water district to impose different rate structures and water-use restrictions on the two communities?
When and how will the water shortage problems be solved? Currently, advocates of the water companies purchase say the area well owners will enter into water-sharing agreements for their excess water, once Brooke Utilities is out of the picture. How long will it take to get Brooke Utilities out of the picture? What happens if the area well owners run out of excess water? Will Pine residents be again without water?
Is the estimated price of the water companies based on an appraisal from a company with expertise in utility company evaluation? Does this price include the repair, replacement and updating of the present water system? Does this price include integrating the wells of area well owners into the community water supply system? How much will this integrations of systems cost?
What control will I have over the size of future rate increases? Will delivery of water to new subdivisions take precedence over the development of an independent, adequate water supply? What is the plan to take care of people who are on the waiting for water meter list?
These are just some samples of questions that need to be answered. Pine/Strawberry residents, start making up your list of questions. Don't let your anger with the present owner of the water companies make you overlook the importance of getting all the factual data you need to make an informed, rationalecision. Please do not settle for the answer, "We are looking into it."
Bernice E. Winandy