Tab for the tap

Published: Friday, December 14, 2012 at 10:58 AM.

But it is the real, tangible costs that have been truly ruinous to the city.

The $21 million for the water plant and now millions more in replacing some 20 miles of aging pipe threading through the city. The amount of water consumed to establish a flushing program and map the city’s distribution system is in the hundreds of thousands of gallons.

Utility users have seen their rates move upward three times in the past several years and face still another rate hike this fiscal year.

Yes, there has been grant money that has paid for large portions of the infrastructure, but those are different from real costs to end users only in semantics. They are taxpayer dollars.

And the city would not be looking at nearly $20 million in debt – requiring $1.1 million in debt service and fees beginning next fiscal year – if not for the infrastructure work that has been a result of this new water plant.

This brings us to the Northwest Florida Water Management District and its recent press release concerning approval of underwriting costs to improvements at the Chipola Pump Station, the crucial link between the Chipola River and the freshwater canal the city taps for water.

That grant, in effect, provided some monetary level of comfort for commissioners in deciding to spend $60,000 on what is called a profile/study of the water distribution system that now feeds much of the south end of the county.

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