I support the purchase of the Pine Water Company and the Strawberry Water Company (water companies) provided that the purchase is accomplished in a manner that ensures equal treatment to all Pine/Strawberry residents. Unfortunately, it seems that the present Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) Board is not pursuing a course that ensures equal treatment for all.
At the Aug. 21 PSWID Board meeting, Chairman Bill Haney announced that current water rates would be continued for an undefined period after the purchase of the water companies. An examination of the various water rates reveals that Pine residents will not get an equal return for their PSWID tax monies.
Strawberry residents currently have three different rate structures. Water users in the former Williamson system pay $14 for 4,000 gallons of water; former United water users pay $8.80 for 4,000 gallons of water and former E&R water users pay $13.60 for 4,000 gallons of water. Pine water users pay $17.82 for the same amount of water during the winter months. During the summer, Pine water users pay $26.
This disparity of water rates backed by the PSWID Board leads to another question. Currently, Strawberry can be in a water conservation Stage 1 while Pine residents can be in a water conservation Stage 5. Will unequal access to water also be continued for an undefined period of time after the water companies are purchased?
Unequal rate structures and unequal access to water had to be tolerated when the water companies were privately owned. "However, these inequities are not acceptable once the water companies are owned by the public. PSWID Board members, please ensure equal treatment to all your constituents.