With the May 16 general election looming, Williams voters need to narrow down which three of the six remaining city council candidates deserve their approval.
But probably more importantly for Williams’ future, is whether or not they will OK the $3 million water development bond issue on the ballot that day.
No one can deny Williams’ dwin-dling water supplies has put the town, which relies solely on runoff for its water supply, into a near-crisis situation. As of April 27, reservoirs were at 19 percent capacity.
Dennis Dalbeck, city manager, has already underscored how he is pursuing contingency plans to have water hauled into town if the supply becomes exhausted. State emergency services funds should kick in once an emergency is declared — similar to when more than three feet of snow hit the town in during 1997. At that point, the state funded the tab for 75 percent of the costs inflicted by the emergency situation.
Prospective sources for water are being lined up with estimates running around $20,000 a day, during peak periods of use, to purchase and haul it to town.
In the meantime, water development continues at the Dogtown Well which looked promising prior to shutdown April 9 when the sediment burned up the pump’s motor. Two days prior to that, the well’s capacity was increasing to a steady 200-plus gallons a minute and had reached as much as 280 per minute for short intervals.
A new pump, with a capacity higher than 300 gallons per minute, has been ordered to replace the one destroyed. Although Mayor Jim Hoffman predicted it would be on site April 21, the manufacturer requested additional time to determine what caused the previous failure before sending a new pump to Williams. As of presstime Tuesday, it was not certain if the new pump had arrived.
City officials are hoping to complete development on the Dogtown Well in time to alleviate the water shortage. They also hope, subsequent water development funded by the bond issue, will rule out future shortages in the wake of drought.
Joe Duffy, assistant city manager and finance director, has said this is a revenue bond and will not affect resident’s property taxes. But he can’t guarantee it won’t affect utility rates.
“We will look at revenues and expenses in our water and electric utility funds to determine if a rate increase is needed to cover a portion of the new debt service,” Duffy said. “During the current budget sessions, we will be reviewing all the future needs of both funds — capital improvements, personnel, services, supplies, etc.
“Until that is done we won’t know if a rate increase is justified.”
“Currently, we do have sufficient capacity in our electric system to pay back this debt.”