Town's been subsidizing school water

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CHAPEL HILL - Water purchases have been subsidized by the town when the customer is Forrest High School and the football field needs irrigation.

It's just the way things have worked out because the city's water rate is lower than what's charged by the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities (MCBPU).

The demand for water is so great when the field is irrigated, that the city buys water from MCBPU, Town Administrator Mike Hatten has explained.

Chapel Hill has a deep well as its first source of water and in recent years, it's added another source - water flowing in a cave. Together, both aren't capable of supplying the town and the football field sprinklers, especially when there's a drought like there was two summers ago.

"When we buy water from the county and resell it to the school we lose money," Hatten said, citing water rates of nearly $2.50 per 1,000 gallons in the city and $3.50 for 1,000 gallons when water is purchased from MCBPU.

"When we do purchase it from the county, we buy it because of excessive use," the town administrator said. "We're trying the best we can to not raise rates on the average Joe who doesn't use more than 5,000 gallons."

As a result, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen has been asked if it would consider adopting a resolution to increase the price charged by the town to customers who buy large volumes of water.

"It's not a done deal yet," Hatten said. "This has been going on for years and we're just trying to tighten up. What we're looking at is charging $4.66 per thousand gallons."