....."Teetering On the Edge of Failure"??....Oh, It's Just Our Water Supply ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Monday, June 21, 2010

....."Teetering On the Edge of Failure"??....Oh, It's Just Our Water Supply

Or water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink?????

I kind of like water. I brush my teeth with it on it before I have a dinner date which would also necessitate  a bath so yes, you could say I like to know that my city is providing me with that clear liquid when I demand it at my tap. Recently I received the annual drinking water report, and while I cannot understand why most of the samples were taken a long time ago, some as far back as 2004, I guess I place some blind trust that the same organization that recently let $150k in checks disappear from an open vault during office hours will indeed deliver clean water to my tap.

For years, the elephant in the bedroom of Annapolis that nobody seems to notice is the ancient system that is supposed to do just that. Alderman have told me about how the aging and neglected infrastructure could collapse. I just sort of hoped and prayed that we'd be looking after it. I know there have been some improvements to some portions of the wells, pumps, pipes and tanks that serve the needs of our nearly 40,000 residents plus the throngs of visitors and government employees in the state capital.

The Capital recently wrote that "The city's 76-year-old water plant is teetering on the edge of failure, putting Annapolitans at risk of losing potable tap water and threatening to hinder fire service..". It could take four years to overhaul and cost between $52 million and $55 million.

As I said, it's only our water. On the other hand, during the eight years of the Moyer Administration as the mayor loved to remind us, we racked up a host of awards for being "livable" and other such things. But instead of rebuilding our water system, Moyer decided to spend millions to build a recreation center--which was completed without even a plan for covering its operating costs. In essence we got a nice recreation center above ground, but hidden away and below ground, our water supply is crumbling. But we can still use the rock-climbing wall at the new Roger "Pip" Moyer Recreation Center. Of course, as is said, you cannot get water from a rock, and if you do exercise at our new recreation center, just don't find it too weird if you one day find the water fountains there don't work and the toilets don't flush. At the same time, almost next-door to our water facility just outside of town, Moyer pushed to create some sort of energy demonstration park. Livable indeed.

The Capital said that Alderman Ross Arnett "doubts the city can afford a massive construction project. Debt service is the city's fourth-largest expense. He also said he doesn't understand the push to build or rebuild the plant so soon - the city has patched problems in the facility for decades."

"Why all of a sudden a new rush?" asked Arnett who said he said he wants another opinion on the need for such work and a second evaluation of the costs.  Arnett got some grief from online commenters, and of course, it was just a snippet of a quote that is possibly not understood without proper context. Arnett told me of the dangerously decaying conditions at the water plant a long time ago. On the face of it, Arnett seemed a bit careless, but it's not everyday you go out and spend fifty million bucks, so certainly a second opinion as to whether or not we can rebuild without replacing is in order.

Former Alderman David Cordle, when he was running for mayor, carried around a piece of decayed pipe from the plant to show the seriousness of the situation.

This must be fixed and we must begin working on it quickly. If we need a second opinion (in addition to my own for heaven's sake!) let's go out and get another expert to second-guess the first one. But please, drill here and drill now! Whether we issue bonds, raise taxes or other fees or have the mayor sit on a corner and collect pennies by filling cups with water, we have to pay for this. But there could be a reasonable solution. Many of us spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year for ridiculously expensive water in thin plastic bottles. It could add up to millions in sales each year in the city. Why not just levy a special tax on bottled water? After all, if you are not willing to be taxed further to specifically rebuild the water system that delivers water to your home for pennies per gallon, but you are willing to spend many dollars per gallon to go to a store and buy it in bottles.....well, you can see where I am going. Even if you never drink from your tap because you are getting bottles, you still need city water for your lawn, washing, toilet etc.

And people wonder why I drink--water, I mean, why I drink water.

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