Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2007

Editorial: Compromise best solution in water dispute

October 18, 2007

Last month, the Douglas County Rural Water District No. 4 filed suit in federal court seeking to protect its service boundaries from a growing city of Eudora. At issue, is territory south of Kansas Highway 10 and mostly east of Douglas County Road 1061 that was annexed into the city in the last year.

It is encouraging to hear the two entities will continue talking despite the lawsuit. It would seem best for both parties for the city to take over territory with just compensation to the water district for the loss of current and future tax base needed to pay off federal debt on capital improvements.

That would be best for city water customers. The more water the city sells the cheaper its unit cost to produce water. It's no accident the largest water utility in the area, Johnson Water One, also provides water at the cheapest rate to its costumers. So locking down the growth area could eventually mean less expensive, if not cheaper, water for city of Eudora water costumers.

Of course, it is also in the residents' interest that an area that could provide the commercial growth so lacking in the community not be hampered by inadequate water service. And city officials are justified in thinking that they can best provide comprehensive planning of all utilities in the area.

Nonetheless, the pessimism of city officials' about the water district's ability to met the needs of the area is probably unjustified. Legally, it would have to if it wants to hang on to the area.

But the question water district residents have to ask is: Why should the district want to? Providing rural water service to the 70-square-mile district is a far different chore than taking on an urban service area. With the population numbers we've heard suggested for the area south of Eudora, that portion of the water district soon could become the tail wagging the dog, demanding capital improvements and manpower far greater than the larger rural section. It's difficult to think that isn't a formula for resentment and conflict.

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