Pine-Strawberry Votes Are Important On Water Issue



My recent letters to the editor yielded an invitation to a Rim Country Water meeting this weekend. There I learned that Rim Country Water actually began with a few neighbors meeting around a storage tank that was full, while some of them did not have water, and while water was reportedly being hauled between communities.

They were just trying to figure out what was going on and what could be done about it. That has led to many dialogues, many ACC and PSWID meetings, lots of e-mails, and people making the commitment to run for the PSWID board and try to do things differently.

As we look to the future, both alternatives are scary. If the current board remains and the K2 well proceeds, Brooke Utilities will then seek a rate increase to recoup its costs. A brief was already filed for a delay in Brooke's rate increase request from June 2008 to June 2009, so that (in part) they would not incur the cost of filing a rate case until their upcoming costs were more clear, and could be incorporated into the rate case. Our water rates will go up, no matter what. If the K2 well does produce water, it may cause other nearby wells to go dry, leading to more customers, more demand and more hauling charges (not this summer, but in the long run).

If a new board is elected and a community-based water district is pursued, there are many unknowns. Estimated costs to buy out Brooke Utilities and the perceived value of the water company vary widely, and could be affected by legal actions to come. It is hard to predict what will happen to rates, as the community pursues this process. We still don't have good data from Brooke Utilities about the status of the infrastructure, and clearly, we need to get a storage system back in place.

For me, the question boils down to: Do our communities want to remain with the status quo, with Brooke Utilities as the water distribution system? Do we dare take the risk to try to develop within the community a domestic water district system with the potential to serve our water needs better? No one can fully predict the outcome of either of these choices. I have refrained from judging anyone in this process, because well-informed, intelligent people I know vociferously disagree on this matter. But few votes in our lifetime will be as important to ourine-Strawberry community as this one.

Please, if you have not voted, get any questions you have about how to do so answered. Let your opinion be a part of the process.

Chris Tetzloff

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