Quick timeline: January 2011, HGE presents its plan with two options: build a citywide system from scratch; or buy Shady Cove Water Works and build it out. February 2011, CPM Real Estate pitches the purchase of SCWW to the city as the “best” option. April 2011, the Water Task Force begins meeting so they can advise council which option is preferable. July 2011, the Task force recommends Option II (SCWW). September 2011, council votes to pursue Option I (scratch) finding far too many problems with the SCWW option. January 2012; new engineering firm Kennedy/Jenks gives a Town Hall presentation on Option I and the creation of a citywide water system in general. February 2012; the Water Task Force begins their community education and outreach phase preparing for an election on a water system.
March 22, 2012; council holds a Special Meeting to hear a presentation from new representatives of Premier West/SCWW on the benefits of Option II – buying and building out SCWW. Though the faces of the presenters were new; for those who have followed the Option I/Option II debate since January 2011 – the arguments remained the same. SCWW is in place and could bring water to some folks with some speed. The intake valve is in place and certified by all applicable government agencies. Still; the arguments against Option II remain as well and no new information was brought forward in the special
Mayor Ron Holthusen advised that with a new CEO at Premier West’s helm and some new, lower pricing on SCWW he would like to again look into the viability of an SCWW build out. The motion at hand was for council to allow the Mayor to consult with Premier West/SCWW regarding the possible acquisition of SCWW assets. The final vote was in favor 4/1 with Councilor Leith Hayes opposed feeling Option II was not viable for all reasons discussed in previous months. Further he felt an SCWW build out would hinder the chances of a full citywide system being voted into reality; feeling once one section of the city had water they would not vote for other sections to be included in a build out.
With bond issues and loans and all things aquatically financial still unclear it is thought any system would still be “all or nothing” (i.e. any vote for either option would necessarily include a full system as the end result); but there is the hanging issue of financing being hindered by a build out vs. creation of a new system. Councilor Jim Ulrich stood firmly for re-exploring Option II for the reason the Task Force recommended it in July 2011; getting some water up and flowing as soon as possible would be a momentum starter for a citywide system.
Follow up to the special meeting will include the results from the Mayor’s approved consultation and discussion as to whether or not a feasibility study should be next on the path to water.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent