Water rates are on the rise

News staff writer

December 14, 2005

Hood River city residents will pay an average of $5 more on their monthly water bills next year.

The City Council has finally decided on a new rate adjustment to help repay a $4.5 million federal loan. That money from the Rural Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be used to start the work of replacing a 76-year-old water main.

Earlier this fall, the elected body rejected a base rate tied to 3,000 gallons of use each month. That was a decrease of 2,000 gallons from the current 5,000 allowed during the winter and 7,000 less than the summer allotment of 10,000 gallons.

However, after debating the issue, city officials decided to set a slightly higher year-round base rate of 5,000 gallons. Beginning in January, the average monthly bill is expected to rise from $22.17 cents to $27.11 cents. If more than 5,000 gallons are used by a household, the overage charge will increase by 15 cents, from $1.27 per gallon to $1.42.

Ray Bartlett, city sewer and water systems consultant, said another increase of about 7.5 percent is expected next year. He said the 12-mile water line replacement will be divided into five phases for a total cost of about $20 million. And, each loan installment of about $4 million on a 40-year repayment plan, the city is expected to raise rates to cover costs.

“The federal government is no different than any other lender – they want to know that they are going to be paid back. And without the extra revenue, the city isn’t going to be able to repay these loans,” said Bartlett.

Dave Bick, city engineer, said time is running out to repair the aging line that carries water from the spring near Lost Lake to the reservoir on Riverdale Drive.

Since the early 1990s, the city has been forced to spend increasingly more money and staff time to repair breaks in the line. Bick said if the city does not take action now, residents could lose access to their only water source.

“The pipeline is on the verge of failure and we have to replace it and that’s what this is all about,” said Bick.

The initial project will involve changing out the segment of pipe between the fire station in Dee and Iowa Drive. A new chlorination station is also planned for construction next year.

Bick said the city is also hopeful that the new rates will encourage more water conservation, a mandate of the Oregon Water Resources Department.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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