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Water conservation could mean loss of revenue from SIRWA

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 3:41 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 3:42 p.m. CDT

In light of the current drought, there is a thought that if Southern Iowa Rural Water Association (SIRWA) would stop using the water from West Lake, the current water source, there would be plenty for the need in Clarke County.

During a Clarke County Reservoir Commission meeting Feb. 14, Dan McIntosh with SIRWA said the amount of water SIRWA sold Clarke County customers above the amount of water they purchased from the city of Osceola in 2012 was 24.3 million gallons.

Interstate divide

“We don’t just serve the city or Clarke County with our water lines. Right now, we’re bringing Creston water over,” McIntosh said. “Everything on the west side of Interstate 35 is served out of Creston. Everything on the east side of Interstate 35 is served out of Osceola water, and we take Osceola water and take it all the way down to Leon.”

He said the reasoning for this is, hydraulically, it’s the best way for SIRWA to do it. It’s cheaper and doesn’t require as much pumpage.

“We really don’t care where the water comes from. We’re just trying to serve. We treat everybody equal,” McIntosh said. “Everybody in the rural area pays exactly the same, doesn’t matter where your water comes from.”

He said SIRWA isn’t taking the water out of West Lake and serving it to other places.

McIntosh said he’s been asked why SIRWA doesn’t take people in rural areas of the county and put them on Creston water.

Revenue

He said SIRWA is in a partnership with the city of Osceola, and the city needs the revenue that comes in to make their payments.

“If we stopped today taking all of that, their fixed expenses keep going on,” McIntosh said. “All of their payments go on. Probably, their labor would go on because you can’t get rid of somebody. The electricity would go down a little bit and their chemical costs would go down a little bit. But, all of a sudden, … since we’re not using a-third of their water, that revenue goes away, but everything else stays the same.”

He added, “You know what has to happen? They’re going to have to raise rates on everybody else.”

McIntosh said, as soon as the city of Osceola thinks it’s necessary, SIRWA will try to take all the customers off that they can to help out the situation of not enough drinking water.

“For right now, it’s business, and you’ve got to operate it like a business,” he said. “You know, they need our revenue on that.”

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