Water usage continues to be a contentious issue as Sunnyside and East Carbon City work to make sense of their economic situation. During East Carbon's latest council session, overtime pay caused by unusual amounts of water use caused the council to question once again Sunnyside Co-Generation's stake in the city's water reserve.
According to East Carbon City Mayor Orlando LaFontaine, the city was forced to bring in its maintenance department over the weekend to run the city's treatment plant long enough to keep water in the area's tanks. One of the major issues which is brought out every time the city discusses the power plant revolves around the contention that East Carbon must treat the water that Sunnyside then takes and sells to the power plant.
"The issue here is that this is costing the city of East Carbon money to bring these guys in and pay them. They have to come in because these tanks must maintain a certain level for safety reasons," he explained. "If our guys don't keep on the ball, come Monday there is no water, the fire hydrants are empty, no water for city use. You can really see some damage."
According to the mayor, East Carbon Recorder Liz Holt is calculating a bill which will be sent to their neighboring city concerning the extra cost of treating additional water. She will also now be monitoring daily water usage as reported at the treatment plant.
"This is a big expense, it's overtime, it's the vehicles and other resources," continued the East Carbon Mayor. "This has been going on for three weeks running and we are going to go way over our budget concerning wages."
Following LaFontaine's comments, the council did collectively recall that Sunnyside officials had stipulated on numerous occasions that they were willing to pay their share. They simply haven't been billed.
"We are treating culinary water to drink, to take showers in, to bathe the babies, to water the lawn, and instead it is being taken to cool a power plant," said Maggio. "And to boot we are footing the whole bill to make sure the plant is cooled with very clean water."
According to Holt, city water usage currently ranges between 400,000 and 600,000 gallons per day. In high demand months such as September that number can climb as high as 900,000. What has East Carbon officials concerned is that a city with a fifth of their residents is using more water than they do.
While issues between the Sunnyside, Sunnyside Co-Gen and East Carbon have been documented in previous articles, there has been little real discussion between East Carbon and the power plant. Change does appear to be in the works, however, as a report from city attorney Jeremiah Humes indicates a conversation could get started
According to Humes, Brian Burnett, representing the power plant, contacted Humes to discuss two issues. To begin, in 1999 a lease of a water right from East Carbon City concerning a well that the plant has been using needs to prove up its beneficial use. To demonstrate that they are using the water share, part of that information which they do need to submit must be signed by the city."
"There is a God," said LaFontaine as Humes continued.
"They have submitted that information for us to look at. Secondly they have become aware of some of the issues that the city has through the newspaper and they would like to attend a meeting in order to resolve any problems that East Carbon may have," said Humes.
Humes reported that Rick Carter or Rusty Nets would be willing to come and provide the information needed to bring the entities together.
"One issue we have for sure is the condition of the reservoir we leased to them," commented city council member Cheryl McFarland. "It's filled up with rock and plants and big bushes."
Humes cautioned the council that now would not be the best time to discuss this matter.
"This effects the city at a high level," retorted LaFontaine. "I agree that now is not the time but I would like to schedule a special work meeting to give everyone the chance to talk over our position.