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Taylor considers offer from Southwest Water Authority; tables decision

With innovation, comes tough choices. At their March 8 meeting, Taylor’s City Council were presented with a tough decision: Join neighboring communities in hooking up to a suspended holding tank (water tower) or not.

Contributors Mar8.jpg
Pictured left to right are the following contributors: City Maintenance Emory Vaagen, Former Mayor Russ Myran and Engineer Jeremy Wood. (M.C. Amick/The Dickinson Press)

With innovation, comes tough choices. At their March 8 meeting, Taylor’s City Council were presented with a tough decision: Join neighboring communities in hooking up to a suspended holding tank (water tower) or not.

City contracted Engineer Jeremy Wood presented a letter he’d received from the North Dakota State Water Commission and concluded that it seemed possible for Taylor to hook up to the elevated storage tank or “water tower,” but an increase in costs.

In a previous article , Wood estimated that rates would go from $5.60 for a thousand gallons, to $6.85 for a thousand gallons. Average water use varies from 75 to 135 gallons per resident per day, according to national averages and at $1.25 more per 1000 gallons. With the higher rates from Southwest Water Authority, residents could see a slight hike in water bills, Mayor Emory Vaagen said in the interview.

Previous Mayor Russ Myran claimed during the meeting that water bills would more than double, when factoring for added maintenance costs.

As for how much maintenance the city will be responsible for, Wood said he didn’t have any hard data.

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Councilmember Travis Christensen highlighted at least one of the maintenance items Taylor would be responsible for, “There’s a valve that we’d be responsible for.”

Wood said the tank is still in the planning stages, and no definitive plans have been made either way. While being in the planning stage allows the commission to further delve into the complexity of additional costs and added benefits, Taylor has until April to reach a conclusive answer.

Wood said the (Southwest Water Authority) will likely start bidding in May, which leaves the commission approximately 30 days before a decision must be made.

The tank in question was designed by the Southwest Water Authority and holds approximately 300,000 gallons in its holding, according to Wood.

Among the many benefits the tank would provide Taylor was the added water supply for fire flows. Wood said fire flows could pose a problem, as the amount needed during firefighting actions can run upwards of 1,000 gallons a minute and last for more than an hour — which Wood said would require the tank to be expanded.

The Southwest Water Authority letter, Wood said, suggested the tank would be increased by 10 to 15% should Taylor decide to join the co-op. According to Wood, any increase however would fall on the financial shoulder of the taxpayers of the Taylor.

“Time is of the essence to come to some agreement...I think it’s an opportunity to save some money for Taylor,” Wood said.

Councilmember Melissa Gjermundson asked Wood if her reading of the letter was correct. The letter, Gjermundson claimed, suggested that residents will become individual Southwest Water Authority patrons and would make their water payments directly to the SWA, and not the city of Taylor.

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Gjurmundson also wondered if the Southwest Water Authority would then update Taylor’s infrastructure as part of the project.

“If we’re not part of the city water source..would Southwest Water...update the infrastructure then to the houses,” Gjermundson asked after reading a section of the letter.

Myran argued that if Gjermundson’s interpretation of the letter were correct that additional responsibilities would fall on Taylor in the future.

“It seems to me like I’d be a little complicated if each individual was gonna pay Southwest for the water, because the city is still gonna be responsible for any repairs to the mains or to the meters,” Myran said.

Myran said he hoped that if Taylor goes through with the water tower, the city will be able to pay for the water and then charge residents for the city water as they currently do — to maintain the revenue needed to make mainline repairs.

Vaagen agreed that much of the plan remains unknown and in need of clarification, however, he planned to work with Wood in order to develop the best plan for Taylor.

According to Vaagen, he and Wood will meet with Southwest Water Authority in the near future to get clarity on some of the outstanding issues.

More information concerning the water tower plans will be presented during the city council meeting at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, April 12. An informational meeting will follow soon after the council meeting at around 7:30.

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