From the Delta County Indpendent (Hank Lohmeyer):
The town has offered to pay half the materials costs if 19 of 39 Bull Mesa Pipeline members pay the other half, and also pay all installation to bring their local system up to current town specifications. The town then wants to tap those 19 members into the new West Side transmission line and take them over as town water customers. At the Bull Mesa Pipeline Company’s annual meeting on Feb. 18, members found little advantage to their system from the town’s offer. But, the offer is delivered with a velvet hammer touch: If the pipeline company doesn’t accept the town’s offer now, then if future state regulations allow or require the town to take the pipeline over, it could be on terms far less favorable than the ones being offered now…
Orchard City’s offer appears straightforward on its face. But it passes without mention of several thorny issues it raises.
• Only 19 water taps of 39 on the Bull Mesa pipeline would be affected. Accepting the town’s offer would mean splitting the company in half with those 19 members leaving to become water customers of the town directly. Members at the annual meeting saw possible legal issues involved with splitting the company. The town’s offer applies only to the 19 members on the lower portion of the pipeline, and not to the upper 20 members.
• The idea of “abandoning” the upper pipeline members, who in many cases are friends and neighbors, was objectionable to members. The move would leave th eother 20 to their own reduced-resource fate after many decades of working together to build and maintain the Bull Mesa system.
• The town’s offer would mean, by rough calculations, spending an estimated $3,000 by each of the 19 members to bring their current water service lines up to town specifications. And, it would mean draining half of the company’s $20,000 bank account to help pay for the upgrades.
• The town’s offer means that after the local system is upgraded, all the new investment along with more than a half century of work building the system would be given to the town, for free – a major sticking point.
• The 19 tap owners would still pay the same higher outside rates as others do, along with getting lower monthly “minimums.” And they would be completely at the mercy of whatever water policy is adopted by the town board, a board they have no vote on.
• Important also is the sense of freedom of self determination that members of the Bull Mesa company derive from being able to manage their own water supply.
• There were also some unanswered technical questions in the town’s offer.
More infrastructure coverage here.