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Change Water Hookup Policy

Editorial for Dec. 14, 2006

Change water hookup Last week, the White Salmon City Council discussed a variety of issues regarding water hookups, and it's clear that city ordinances relating to water services need to be revised.

One key problem was identified: Some developers have purchased water hookups and have been able to hold on to them indefinitely for possible future use, even if they are not actively engaged in construction. Those who have essentially reserved their water hookups in this way pay no monthly base rate because their water accounts are not considered to be "active."

Meanwhile, an individual builder who wants to build his or her home now gets put on hold by the city because, with a moratorium on water hookups due to the city's currently inadequate water rights, no new water hookups are available.

It's not a fair situation.

There are one or two reasonable solutions to this issue. First, the city's ordinances need to be altered to prevent someone from buying water hookups unless they are ready to begin building. As it is, before the water moratorium went into place, someone could purchase water hookups and "bank" them for the future. That cuts the number of water hookups available for individuals who might need them right now.

Second, it makes sense to require those who have water hookups to pay the same monthly base rate other customers have to pay.

According to White Salmon Public Works Director Wil Keyser, White Salmon currently has 89 water hookups that are "in the ground" but inactive -- connected to the city's water system, but not being used. Those 89 customers pay no monthly fee, despite holding a very valuable resource that others need. Keyser recommended that those with water meters pay the basic monthly fee others pay.

Council member Brad Roberts pointed out that since those buying water connections are hooked up to the city's water infrastructure, they ought to help with costs. Without any monthly charges, the city is essentially subsidizing their ability to indefinitely hold on to a water connection, whether any building is going on or not.

Keyser and Roberts are on the right track here in suggesting changes to the current policy. It's not fair for some to be able to hold water rights that others need -- without having to contribute anything to maintaining the city's water system infrastructure as they do so.

The White Salmon City Council needs to revise the appropriate ordinances and put a halt to this free ride.

JB

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