When we first moved to Pine in early 1998, our water was supplied by Pine Water Company, one of many water companies belonging to a private individual. The service was lousy and the prices were outrageous.
Instead of drilling a desperately needed new well up in Strawberry where water was more plentiful, Pine Water trucked in water from one of the owner’s companies and tacked the cost on top of an already too-high bill.
For that reason, and others, a movement was started to buy out the private water company and turn it into a public utility.
At that time, I was running an online forum for the Roundup and was all for the idea, but I had to bite my tongue to keep from pointing out a simple scientific truth I had learned in college.
What simple truth? Well, someone got the bright idea of digging a deep well in the center of the intermountain valley in which Pine sits; and photos of water flowing out of its pipe, along with the zippy slogan “WE HAVE WATER NOW!” showed up everywhere.
Unfortunately, I knew that well was worthless. As our historical geology professor once put it, “Never drill a deep water well in the center of a narrow valley; the water you pump out will be so filled with silt and sand accumulated over millions of years that it will burn out your pumps and you’ll never be able to use the water.”
I knew that, but I kept quiet about it because I didn’t want to confuse the issue, which was not whether or not that silly well was the answer to our water problems, but whether we should take control of our future by buying out the water company.
And so, the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District — PSWID — was born.
Yes, the “We Have Water Now” well turned out to be a bust as I knew it would, and we had some other troubles getting our new water district up and running, including the theft of funds by the PSWID treasurer and a leaky set of water pipes that badly needed replacement.
However, with the new board, manager and some great employees, PSWID has been working hard to climb out of what once appeared to be a bottomless pit. One goal has been the revitalization of an aged system, which was not kept in proper repair by its owner. Things were so bad that we had almost weekly water outages due to breaks in main lines. So PSWID hired a company to step in and correct matters.
However — life being what it is at times — that first company had to be replaced. A second one was hired. It went to work. We all crossed our fingers.
One day, two months ago, a young man rang our front door bell and told us our water would be shut off in 10 minutes. Naturally, I asked him how long it would be before it came back on.
He thought a moment and then answered, “Oh, it should take about 40 minutes.”
You know what? He was right! That moment marked a new day in the history of PSWID! We now have water.
Speaking for the residents of Pine and Strawberry, I would like to thank everyone at the PSWID.