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City taking right stance with water

April 5, 2012
Salem News

Commendations are due Salem mayor John Berlin and city leadership for a stance regarding the sale of city water.

The mayor is right. "It just seems the $5 figure is not fair," he said Tuesday. That is in regards to a proposal by Chesapeake Exploration to purchase much-needed city water at $5 per 1,000 gallons. The Committee of the Whole, which includes all seven members of council, authorized the mayor to try to negotiate a higher rate while determining a fair value to cover utility department costs and terms to split what's left of the sale proceeds between the city and the utilities department. Members first discussed the proposed bulk water sale to the oil and gas company two weeks ago after learning the utilities department was trying to finalize a deal at the $5 rate per 1,000 gallons for up to 1.5 million gallons per day for four years.

Water is a commodity worth owning right now given its need in the whole gas drilling process that has been well-documented. And Salem has plenty of it. Let those who need it pay a reasonable price. This is a rare opportunity for the city to obtain some much-needed money. Be commonsensical and fair about it. And we have no reason to believe the city leadership indeed would act otherwise Acquire an amount that is deserved. Like, say, at least $10 per 1,000 gallons for two years as suggested by the mayor who said he'll work with the utilities commission and the utilities department for a deal that's workable for both the city and them. Cooperation is so important now between the city and the commission.

If Chesapeake has a contract with Buckeye Water District for $15 per 1,000 gallons then let the city gets its fair share too. And forget about what some overbearing- and, from what we've been told, rude - representative trying to broker a low ball deal between the city and Chesapeake has to say about it. Let him try trucking in millions and millions of gallons of water from elsewhere. It would be a sheer logistics nightmare and not at all financially feasible.

"They're going to need volumes and volumes of water. Let's not roll over and accept the first offer," council member Jeff Cushman said.

Well put and we agree. The city should be proactive. Certainly let's not talk this to death which does seem to happen on occasion in council chambers. Act somewhere between haste and lollygagging - a middle ground timetable usually works in most instances.

Don't turn the spigots loose until we get ours. Potential money-making opportunities seem to be what this whole area gas drilling explosion is about. The city needs to capitalize on its precious resource. Same goes with the land leasing.



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