Now, the city’s water controversy has replaced Measure N. I’m one of those getting their water from the partnership between Dixon and the Solano Irrigation District (SID), so I’ve been following the story.
As I understand it, SID has wanted to raise rates considerably because it says the well-based water system is operating at a deficit. Mayor Batchelor and council member Fuller were willing to continue the partnership and OK the fee increase, while a majority of the council members (Ceremello, Besneatte and Bogue – expressing a distrust of SID) voted to end the partnership. If that happened, the partnership would officially end in 2014.
One mystery in this mix is that the other water supplier in town, Cal Water, charges rates that are much higher than the Dixon/SID partnership.
Anyway, after the vote to dissolve, the logical next step was to figure out how Dixon would take over the partnership’s water delivery system and how much it would cost to run (in comparison to the old system). Dixon’s government and public works department could take over the maintenance and any future expansion (with new employees and new equipment), or that work could be contracted out to a private company. There were lots of angles to look at.
This week, the city council has voted to hire a consultant to research the various options and figure out how much they’d cost and how well they might perform. But hiring a consultant may be a waste of money.
I suspect that the new coalition of the council (to be sworn in Dec. 11) – consisting of Batchelor, Bird and Castanon – a new majority – are headed in the direction of overturning the earlier vote and restoring Dixon’s partnership with SID. If that’s the case, hiring a consultant would be a waste of money. Consultants don’t come cheap. If memory serves me correctly, consultants researching a project like this will charge in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $30,000.
However, if these three want to approach the various options with open minds, looking for the best deal for Dixon residents, then a consultant is a good idea. One of the problems with some consultants, though, is that they slant their reports toward what they think their employers want.
Myself, without first-hand knowledge of the Solano Irrigation District, but hearing reports about them, have developed a distrust of them myself, beginning with the large building they bought or built – which is much too large for their own needs. I feel that SID has been under the public radar for so long that they still feel they can do pretty much as they please.
One further thought that others have brought up – if Dixon does finally decide to take over the water delivery system from the partnership – why not go all the way and buy out Cal Water’s delivery system as well? It doesn’t make much sense from an efficiency and cost standpoint to have two different water delivery systems in a small city like ours. And Cal Water’s customers might see a reduction in fees eventually.
And, a new thought – if Dixon stays with the partnership, why not press SID to supply Dixon with water from Lake Berryessa such as Vacaville gets – water that’s much less “hard” than our well water.