Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Water Board to review Cost of Service Study, consider increase

J-E News Editor
For most of the last year the Webster County Water District (WCWD) has been discussing the prospect of doing a cost of service study. According to district Superintendent Paul Lashbrook, that study is currently underway and should be completed in time for the December water board meeting.
 The study will be used to clearly define exactly how the district’s operating costs compare to the price of water. It will take into consideration every expenditure, including utilities, chemical costs and payroll. In the end there is a good chance the study will result in an increase of water rates.

“The Public Service Commission looked at this a couple of years ago and suggested a 1.6 percent increase,” Lashbrook told board members. “We decided not to do anything about it at that time. But the cost of electricity and chemicals has gone up since then.”
Lashbrook presented board members with an outline of the district’s daily chemical costs for the month of October. During that 31 day period the water plant spent $13,535.90 on chemicals and washed 35,222,750 gallons of water. That works out to about $0.76 per two thousand gallons.
WCWD customers pay $17.50 for the first two thousand gallons they use, which more than covers the chemical cost. The district’s concern is that once utilities and employee costs are added in, the numbers may prove to be much tighter.
More will be known by the next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.
Lashbrook reported that the district had just began pulling samples of Stage 2 Disinfection by Products. By law all water districts must monitor levels of trihalomethanes (TTHM) and haloacetic acids (HAA5) in the water supply.
Samples are generally obtained while flushing lines. During the flushing process the district uses shutoff valves in certain areas to prevent customers from being effected, but it was recently discovered that many of the valves have been buried.
According to assistant superintendent Robert Schindley, many of those valves are located in the state right of way next to fields that local farmers regularly plant. Some farmers have been planting their fields well into the right of way.
In order to keep customers water fresh, the district needs to utilize those valves while flushing. That means uncovering them.
“Some people might not be happy because they’ve been planting all the way into the right of way,” he said. “But the valves are in the right of way.”
“They might not realize that they are in the right of way,” suggested board member Tommy Chandler.
Despite reductions in the amount of water used during line flushing, and a nationwide drop in water usage, the WCWD continues to show high numbers in 2014. October makes the ninth time in the first ten months of the year that WCWD has exceeded production numbers from the previous year.
“U.S. average water usage has dropped by 13 percent over the last ten years,” said Lashbrook.
In ten months the district has produced 20,515,135 gallons more than it had in the same period a year earlier.
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