Critical vote

Dear Editor:

Thank heavens the time has come to elect two new PAWSD board members. Two years ago the voters made a wise choice by electing Mike Church and Glenn Walsh, but they are only two votes out of five on the board. We now have an opportunity to give these two continuing board members much needed help by electing Paul Hansen and Gordon McIver who have pledged to help curb the rate and tax increases required to fund the runaway spending.

PAWSD has nearly $40 million in debt, with approximately $30 million of that debt never approved by the voters. Recently the board proposed action that would require approval from the voters for any future increases in bonded indebtedness. Incumbent Allan Bunch voted against allowing the people to have that choice. Fortunately, the measure passed anyway.

PAWSD consistently has a monthly treated water loss of 40 percent or greater. Mr. Bunch does not see this as a problem worth solving. How many businesses can withstand a monthly 40 percent loss and continue to operate? Only a government entity with the ability to raise rates and taxes can do this. Failure to recognize that now is the time to deal with this enormous treated water loss rather than waiting for an event such as we experienced in 2003 when water was rationed, is unconscionable. It’s no wonder we are paying the highest water rates in the Four Corners area with this kind of management thinking.

Snowball Treatment Plant provides all the water to the lower half of Put Hill, downtown Pagosa Springs, northeast on U.S. 160 and south on U.S. 84. It should be maintained as required and upgraded as needed in the future. The high quality water from the West Fork is gravity flow through an enclosed pipe to the plant with no pumping required. Incumbent Bunch favors eliminating this very efficient plant and instead pump the water uphill through miles of pipe to the Pagosa Lakes area where ample raw water is already stored. This new system could cost in the tens of millions of dollars to build and operate. PAWSD does not have the easements required to build this pipeline from Snowball all the way to the Pagosa Lakes area so the cost in attorneys fees alone could be substantial. If I lived anywhere near the potential path of this proposed pipeline, I would be concerned that PAWSD would resort to seizing my property through eminent domain as Allan Brunch voted to include an eminent domain clause in the PAWSD/Town sewer line contract. The Town has threatened to invoke eminent domain in dealing with citizens who do not want the sewer line coming across their property.

I urge you to vote for Paul Hansen and Gordon McIver. These two men along with Mike Church and Glenn Walsh have pledged to work together for the good of the electorate. The time has come to change the direction of the PAWSD Board.

Jan Clinkenbeard

This story was posted on April 10, 2014.