Letter: Concerning the Rifle water tank

Susan Nichols
Rifle Watchdawgs

1. In Ordinance 7, there is no sunset for the 12 percent surcharge, meaning that there will be the automatic water rate increase for the standard water rates in addition to the new water tank surcharge for perpetuity.

2. As with the new water plant, the revenue projections and potential reduction in consumer fees are all based on Rifle’s continued population growth. Where is the growth? Water revenues from 2014 were only 1 percent higher than in 2013, where the expenses were 57 percent higher. There is a $640,000 shortfall in revenue, according to the December 2014 financials with water user fees and water tax revenue being stagnant. So, is the 12 percent surcharge the new norm?

3. Ordinance 4, 5, 6 and 7 all deal with a state of emergency and the need to repair the 3 million gallon water tank, but these ordinances nor the fee surcharge seem to cover the actual repair of the old 3M gallon tank. The funds seem to be only slated for the building of a new 2M gallon tank. What is proposed for the existing 3M water tank and what funding will be available for this?

4. The industry standard for water tank inspection is recommended periodic inspections annually, per the Colorado Department of Health and Environment Water Quality Control Division, which utilizes the American Water Work Association and EPA guidelines. A comprehensive inspection and cleaning is recommended every three-five years which includes an in-depth inspection. If the tank was in this dire of need, the annual inspection should have raised some red flags. In addition, water tank degradation should have been noted in the previous inspection four years ago and funds should have been set aside to recoat or repair at that time in addition to triggering more frequent inspections and maintenance. This is the main Rifle tank and if we cannot function without it, why was more care not put into maintenance of this tank? Are we holding the appropriate city personnel accountable?

5. What else is out there that the public should know about? This latest water emergency was preventable and foreseeable and we cannot keep blaming the economy for lapse of judgment.

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