With Spring line broken, Fairview bumps up water rates to encourage conservation
By Suzanne Dean
FAIRVIEW—The Fairview City Council recently increased culinary water rates for heavy users to encourage conservation.
The new rate schedule was approved July 11, but was made retroactive to July 1. Bills for the month of July went out about a week ago.
Mayor Dave Taylor said only 10 to 15 percent of households will get an increase in their base rate. The biggest impact will be on households and businesses using more than 6,000 gallons of water per month.
“All I’m trying to do is help people to conserve,” Taylor said. “The only way people will really conserve.”
The main event precipitating the increase was the break in the “spring line,” the pipeline that brings water from springs in Fairview Canyon into the water tanks, on May 24. Up to the break, the line had supplied 50 percent or more of the town’s culinary water.
“Now we’re living on two wells,” Taylor said. “I was nervous, but because of the cooperation of citizens, we’re getting by.”
Notably, however, one of the wells went out about a year ago and required major repairs, including a new pump. At that time, engineers advised that because of geographic factors, the well might eventually need to be replaced.
The old rate schedule provided 8,000 gallons per month at the base charge of $28.50. Initially, the council planned to lower the allotment to 5,000 gallons while keeping the charge the same. After hearing comments at a public hearing, the number of gallons covered by the base rate was raised to 6,000.
Water users outside the town boundaries pay an additional $9.50, or $38, for their base allotment.
The council also raised the charges at various tiers of usage by 50 cents per tier. Under the old schedule, people who used 8,000 to 30,000 gallons paid the base rate of $28.50, plus an overage charge of $1.50 per 1,000 gallons for the next 8,000 to 30,000 gallons.
Under the new schedule, people using more than 6,000, the new ceiling for the base rate, pay $28.50 plus an overage charge of $2 per 1,000 gallons for the next 6,000 to 30,000 gallons.
Similarly, the overage charge for 30,000 to 50,000 gallons went from $2 to $2.50, while the charge for 50,000 to 100,000 gallons went from $2.50 to $3. The overage charge after someone exceeds 100,000 gallons went from $3 to $3.50.
“We don’t have more than two dozen people who use more than the base rate,” Mayor Taylor said. He explained that customers on the west side of town sometimes use culinary water for watering their lawns and gardens because the west side of town does not have a pressurized secondary irrigation system.
The city expects to begin repairs to its spring line, parts of which were first constructed in the early 1900s, in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, it has a project on the drawing boards to completely replace the spring line, which is several miles long, at a cost of $1 to $1.5 million. The project would include improving the springs themselves, which engineers believe would significantly increase the volume of water available to the town.
Horrocks Engineering, the consulting engineering firm on the project, is working up an application to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation under the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant (ECWAG) program, which was launched a couple of years ago to help water systems in the West deal with severe drought they suffered for seve