Readers write: Standby charges contribute to water shortage

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Editor:

I recently received a copy of your article on the Pine Cove Water District budget and standby charges. The article also reported on emailed and public comments made by me regarding the 30th anniversary of standby charges.

The article cogently identifies commingling of standby and other revenue as the culprit for a failure to accumulate greater water capacity by PCWD. Also, the standby charges encourage consumption — on top of rates that favor heavy users of water — not conservation.

For the record, I am a Pine Cove property owner who is required to pay a minimum $55 bimonthly fee imposed by PCWD or face a lien on the property, even before the fees are due.

Second, I own two lots and a 5-acre parcel, and not several multiple-acre parcels. Third, the factors preventing development of the 5-acre parcel are the same today as in 1983 — terrain, access and riparian environment — not the failure to gain septic approval.

In addition, the county imposed a requirement for a certificate of compliance on all parcels not part of a subdivision that prevents development without paying $7,000, and with paying $7,000, denial of the merger of the parcel with one of the other lots.

Finally, PCWD, not me, proposes the standby charges be used to put in water lines to undeveloped properties. This year the district plans to install water lines across a board member’s property to Red Hill Truck Road and perhaps past a cherished building site, but certainly not our property.

The standby charges supposedly make water available for domestic use and fire protection. But during the Bee Fire of 1996 that burned to within a quarter-mile of our property, my late father and I learned that water pressure was insufficient for the firefighters to do anything more than “blow and go,” despite the presence of seven engines on and in front of our property.

Painting the fire hydrants were no doubt part of PCWD’s version of improving the infrastructure, but a water shortage and a lack of adequate water pressure from the hydrants were the apparent outcomes of 30 years of standby charges. It would be much worse if the undeveloped properties had been developed and not remained undeveloped as predicted more than 30 years ago.

Bill Aussieker
Saint George, Utah

 

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