Thursday, April 17, 2014

Water District continues to hit high production marks

J-E News Editor
Webster County Water District has started 2014 off with a bang, already producing 10,225,950 gallons more than they had produced by the end of March one year ago. This despite vandalism that shut the water plant’s intakes down earlier this year.
“There is some flushing going on and there was a leak at one of the abandoned mines, but mostly the increase is usage,” said Assistant Superintendant Robert Schindley.

For the second consecutive month the water board discussed a cost of service study that they are considering for later in the year. The study would take into consideration all operating and maintenance expenses, and help the board to decide what to do about water rates.
“The Public Service Commission (PSC) wants us to raise our rates a lot more often than we do,” said chairman Jimmy Frederick. “They want more raises at a smaller percentage.”
According to superintendent Paul Lashbrook, the last time the district raised water rates was 15 years ago. Within the last year Kenergy has increased electric rates, and there is a second increase proposal awaiting approval by the PSC.
“We have been doing everything we can to save money,” said Lashbrook. He presented the board with report showing the cost per production of 1,000 gallons of water was $2.15 in January and then down to $2.117 in February. “We should know by late summer how much of Kenergy’s increase the PSC is going to allow.”
“It’s not just the electric cost we have to worry about,” said board member Tommy Chandler. “It’s the snowball effect. It drives the cost of everything else up.”
PSC’s decision is expected by June or July, at which time the district plans to conduct it’s cost of service study. Following that study there will most likely be an increase to water rates.
In other business, EMA Director Jeremy Moore recently approached the water district about moving several emergency radio antennas off of the Oak Heights water tower.
“They want to move the EMA and Sheriff’s Department antennas off of the water tank and build a 180 foot tower inside of our fence at that location,” Lashbrook reported. “I’d prefer having them off the tower.”
“I’m only concerned with interference,” said Chandler. “As long as moving the antennas and building a tower doesn’t cause us any problems, I’m fine with it.”
Schindley suggested that before the board approve anything, they find out more about the proposed tower. He pointed out that a tower that large would need guide wires, which could interfere with access to the water tank for maintenance purposes.
That access will be more important later this year as the district raises funds to refurbish and paint that tank. As part of the painting process the antennas would have to be removed from the tank for several days anyway.