Water system costs force Lock Haven into critical decision | News, Sports, Jobs

We’ve long believed that shared services are smarter and more cost effective, and we most certainly believe that when it comes to area water systems.

Faced with required and costly long-term improvements — the latest estimate is $1.4 million annually over 30 years — Lock Haven City Council is considering options for what is now the Lock Haven Water Department serving about 3,100 customers in total and a two-reservoir system producing two million gallons of water per day.

Here are the options:

— Continue with current city-only ownership and pay to apply to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to raise rates every year for at least 10 years.

— Form a joint municipal authority and turn over ownership to representatives from Castanea and Wayne Townships and the city, which will need to raise water rates every year for the next ten years, but won’t need to pay to apply to the PUC for those rate changes. That cost can be upward of $300,000 — just to apply.

— Sell the water system to a private or public company.

We do not advocate privatizing the water system.

We support shared services.

In fact, we think there should be an even more regional water system that owns all the public water infrastructure in the county. That way, costs can be shared throughout the entire system, theoretically keeping rates lower over the long-term.

Same for the sewer system.

Many counties already do that.

Talk surrounding the city’s aging water system’s infrastructure, which stretches into Wayne and Castanea Townships, has been ongoing as it faces a very large bill for maintenance and improvements.

In early 2022, during discussion surrounding its Capital Improvement Plans, council was presented with ballpark figures to repair the infrastructure, the two dams and spillways, miles of underground distribution pipes but also pumps. The McElhattan dam leaks a little; Rosencranz needs a bigger spillway.

All to keep water flowing and of good quality.

The plan is stretched out 30 years with a calculated cost at the time for roughly $30 million — about $1.4 million each year.

The city wants to know what its residents and customers think. There is an online survey available at lockhavenpa.civilspace.io/en/projects/lock-haven-water-rate-survey until Sept. 10.

We encourage everyone to take that survey.

Council intends to next discuss the matter on Aug. 7.

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