Turning the Titanic

Back in 2010, when two newly-elected Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) directors, Roy Vega and Allan Bunch, teamed up with newly-appointed director, Jan Clinkenbeard, to put a stop to the controversial Dry Gulch Reservoir project, PAWSD finance manager Shellie Peterson reacted to the change of direction with this comment:

“This board has turned the Titanic 180 degrees. It’s just silliness to compare the Titanic when it was going that direction, to when it’s now going this direction.  You’ve changed everything…  So we just need to move forward with the changed premise.”

Four years later, the water district has made very little progress on fixing a 40 percent loss of its treated water. It’s operating a $5 million “Class A Biosolids” greenhouse that can’t produce Class A Biosolids.  PAWSD has raised rates for many of its customers, and has put in place a plan for consistent future rate increases — while carrying an enormous $40 million worth of debt. The board spent down District reserves to help finance a sewer pipeline for the Town of Pagosa Springs — but is not requiring town users to pay the same property taxes paid by other users. Now we are hearing about plans to build a multi-million dollar pipeline to replace the functional Snowball Treatment Plant.

The Titanic has slowly veered away, since 2010, from its formerly financially conservative course.

I helped create the campaign materials for two PAWSD board candidates who’ve promised to help put the brakes on unnecessary and unnecessarily-expensive future projects.  Local Pagosa residents Paul Hansen and Gordon McIver were elected to the PAWSD board in 2014. Can they keep the ship on track?

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