Marlinton Mayor’s Corner

I had intended to get into specifics this week with regard to “proposed” water rate increases. But, due to schedules and other distractions, I have not obtained some of the information that is needed. One thing for sure, I am (certainly) not a water specialist.

Water has a technical side that often doesn’t get communicated well to the public. But, water rate experts agree, one barrier to better water management is communication between utilities and customers. It was with that thought in mind, that I will continue the topic of water and water rates, in coming weeks. No one wants to make water bills higher than is absolutely necessary. Know that before any final rate is determined, various scenarios will be considered. Cost cutting must be a part of the overall plan.

Meanwhile, the Future of Water Prices, like other commodities, will be determined by the overall cost of producing and delivering the final product to the customer. While Marlinton deals with a refurbishing plan for the water plant, there remains the problem of an aging distribution system. We are not alone. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 240,000 water main breaks occur each year. Leaky pipes annually lose billions of dollars of treated water. Last year, the EPA estimated that $335 billion would be needed to fix the country’s aging water supply system in the next few decades.

Another problem may be habit.

When compared to other necessities, water remains reasonably priced. As a result, it’s not a major expense. Water has generally been so cheap for so long, that people have become anchored to the past price, not accepting that sustainability of public water systems costs money. Water use is not publicized much outside of droughts. People pay more for TV cable or cellphones per month. According to advisers in water industry associations, cities have to decide whether to make improvements, or not.

Prices will undoubtedly rise in the near future. Because, the price of doing nothing would be much worse.

The problem around the country is what we see locally.

Government spending and higher water bills do not gather much public support.

Where, then, will the money come to make these repairs?

It is upsetting to see the West Virginia Public Service Commission’s utility ranking for the Town of Marlinton.

Remember, variables depend on gallons and per minimum billing standards.

Often, if you watch a NASCAR race you will see the first 10 positions be within two seconds of each other. The point is, even at today’s water rate, that amounts to less than two cents per gallon.

Every day, customers go into grocery and convenience stores and pay the equivalent of $15.12 per gallon for water – 16 ounces at a time.
Despite the hand-wringing over prices, water in Marlinton remains a good deal.

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