The Garden City Telegram
10/17/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Wary of change in water utility

Most information in this letter came from an article "Lakin residents drill own wells to save on water bills," in The Telegram on Aug. 17, 2013, and from the article "Jones tapped to head Garden City water department," in The Telegram Oct. 5, 2013.

This letter is to warn Garden City citizens to watch their city water bills closely. Why? The City of Garden City recently hired former Lakin City Administrator Fred Jones as Water Systems Resource manager.

Why is this so important for us to know? While Jones was Lakin City Administrator, Lakin water rates more than doubled in 2013 so a $5.7 million nano-filtration water treatment plant could be built north of Lakin, according to an August 2013 Telegram article.

In the same article, a Lakin resident said her July 2006 water bill was $77 for 48,000 gallons of water. Her July 2013 bill was $177 for 32,000 gallons. This is outrageous! If you figure that amount in with electric, sewage and trash, bills could get as high as $900 per month! Many Lakin residents have drilled their own water wells to save on their city water bill.

Mike Muirhead stated the average Garden City residential customer uses 30,000 gallons per month at the peak of the summer. That would result in a water bill of about $60.90 at the current rate. Not too bad.

Later in the August article, Jones said he knows some people have drilled wells, or curtailed outside watering. He said the city is monitoring the possible impact on the stability of the water utility. Jones said he "doesn't feel it's an issue right now." Really? Lakin townspeople have stopped watering their lawns and your city looks awful because lawns are brown, but it's not an issue!

Jones later said in the article that "providing safe drinking water and fire protection is the primary purpose for a municipality. All other uses, such as landscaping, are secondary." You have to be kidding me! Firefighters do not need purified water to put out a fire! Most people buy bottled water to drink, but you want your city to look brown and ugly so no one will want to move there!

The same article says Lakin received $2.2 million in grant funding toward the $5.7 million plant and the remainder of the cost is being borne by water customers, according to Jones.

Do we really want this guy working for Garden City?

Garden City Manager Matt Allen said, in the Oct. 5 article, that Jones will have a re-titled water superintendent position, and head the city's water department. According to Allen, "literally, the issues that hit them are coming downriver toward us."

We do not need Jones convincing our city commissioners that we need a $6 million nano-filtration water treatment plant that will only raise water rates. We need to keep on top of this and make sure that if Jones tries to build one over here, we Garden City residents should get to vote on it.

PAM KUTZ,

Garden City