Let’s get real: Water system is in jeopardy

By Ron Gastineau October 07, 2013 04:51 pm

Every citizen of Crescent City should be concerned about the water rate increase that is now before the City Council, not because your rates will go up, but because our water system is in jeopardy.

For parcel owners who think they have a legitimate reason to block the water rate increase, there will be a protest vote public hearing on Nov. 4 so you can be heard. If there are 50 percent plus one parcels counted against the water rate increase, the measure will fail ... and unfortunately, so will our water system at some point.

As you may have heard, our water rates are the lowest in the region and have not been raised in over a decade, which is great for the ratepayers, but not so much for maintaining a critical infrastructure project like our water system, which delivers some of the cleanest water in the region to our homes for less than 50 cents per day.

Even with the 60 percent increase, the average water customer would only be paying an additional $80 per year and getting that clean water delivered to their home for only 53 cents per day — after the initial increase.

Over the last couple of years under the guidance of our city manager, Gene Palazzo, five-year strategic plans have been put into place to help the city anticipate and plan for maintenance, repair and expansion of our critical systems, which include police, fire, buildings, sewer and water.

Without these plans, the city was working in a mainly reactionary manner and having to come up with money for repairs and replacement of assets on the fly, most of the time at greater cost to the taxpayer. With the strategic plans, the city can be more fiscally responsible by planning and saving up through corrective rate increases for services that cover the costs of these maintenance projects, which can go into the millions of dollars.

By not borrowing the money, the city is saving money in the long run.

The rate increases are needed. We as a city cannot let one of our most valuable and life-giving assets, which was built in the ’50s and expanded over the years, go to waste because we can’t charge a reasonable rate for the service. Serving clean affordable water service to over 14,000 customers is not cheap, but the city does a great job of it and operates the system in the best interest of everyone.

Right now, there is a very vocal minority of people who are against any rate increase the city proposes. This minority uses misinformation and scare tactics to influence the outcome of very important issues that affect us all.

They were responsible for taking fluoride out of our water by calling it poison even though it is proven to be a health benefit to the majority of people around the world. They go door-to-door asking people if they like paying higher rates, and most people would logically say “no.” But they don’t tell them the whole truth of why we need to pay higher rates, which is to protect the integrity of our water system.

I always say, “You get what you pay for,” and if we as water customers want to continue to pay the current rates, then we will be paying for a less secure, possibly unreliable water system that could stop delivering clean water to our homes, businesses and fire hydrants when we need it most.

If you look at the facts and understand that these water rate increases are an investment to make sure our system continues to regularly provide us with life-giving water day in and day out, we can’t afford not to support them and tell everyone that this is what is best for our city to survive into the future.

Tell anyone concerned with having clean water provided to their homes on a consistent basis to go to the city website, www.crescentcity.org, and read the water study for themselves to make an informed decision.  We need more people speaking up for this needed investment in our water system to help drown out the vocal minority who seem not to care about what is best for all of us.

Ron Gastineau is a Crescent City Council member.