Water a contentious issue in Silver Creek
Though most voters may have already cast their mail-in ballots for Silver Creek’s Service Area 3 Board of Trustees election, the tension between two of the candidates is still very much alive, with water and trails proving to be issues of disagreement.
Len Bowes, who is one of four candidates running for two vacant positions on the Service Area 3 Lower District Board of Trustees, told The Park Record that he had decided to run for the position because of issues he had with the way water fees were imposed and calculated at his residence.
In an e-mail sent to The Park Record, Lower District candidate and current chair of the Service Area 3 Water Advisory Committee Betty Bauwens said that Bowes’ water fees were for their use of unmetered water over the course of five years, due to a sprinkler system that was plumbed incorrectly around a meter.
Bowes confirmed that the unmetered water use did occur due to a contractor’s mistake, but added that the WAC "under Betty’s guidance wanted to impose a much greater fee" for Bowes’ unmetered water than what was ultimately voted on. He added that Bauwens was the only one to vote for the WAC’s initial estimate for his water bill, which he said was "unreasonable and unfair."
Bauwens said the WAC’s estimate for Bowes’ water bill came from the Mountain Regional Water District, as the WAC wanted a third-party estimate of the unmetered water. As the non-voting chair of the WAC, she said she had nothing to do with the estimate.
"I had nothing to do with any monetary [calculations]," Bauwens said. "[Bowes’] irritation with me is the reason he’s saying all these things, which are absolutely not true."
Bowes went on to say that he thinks those who use less water should be rewarded. The current base monthly rate for residential water use is $81 per month, which includes 20,000 gallons. Overage fees occur if users go over 20,000 gallons in a month.
"For users that use less than half of that, they still have to pay that 20,000 [gallon a month] rate," Bowes said. "If I were on the Board, I’d incentivize people to use less water."
Bauwens said the WAC "does not have the freedom" to charge what it wants to, as base rates are controlled by the Utah Division of Drinking Water, through which the WAC is paying off bonds. She said she is in favor of not raising the base water rate and said she motioned not to raise it for 2014 at the October board meeting, which was passed.
Bowes suggested implementing a system in which users get to bank water that they don’t use under the 20,000 gallon per month cap, which would allow them to avoid fees should they go over that amount. Bauwens again said that the WAC cannot control this.
"No one wants to pay more for water than they have to," Bauwens said. "We’re trying to figure out a way to reward [those who use less water] that will not put us at risk."
In an e-mail sent to The Park Record, Bauwens wrote a question to residents of Silver Creek that said: "Is it realistic to think Silver Creek (established in the ’60s) can afford to create 50 years worth of trails in our community in the course of a couple of years?"
In response, Bowes said, "What has really been done in Silver Creek for trails? There’s been more done in two years than [Bauwens] has ever done. Her voting record does not support trails that’s pretty clear."
Bauwens said Bowes is "absolutely wrong" about her voting record on trails, and added she was one of two individuals to draw the East-West Wasatch Connector Trail on the map four years ago. She said trails are important but said, "I don’t think we need them as quickly as we’re trying to get them."
Both spoke in favor of the East-West trail, for which Silver Creek and Basin Recreation are applying for a joint Recreation, Arts and Parks tax grant through Summit County.
Lower District candidates who are running for two vacant positions include Eileen Galoostian, Len Bowes, Betty Bauwens and write-in candidate Marcello Occon. Upper District candidates include Brad Iverson and write-in candidate Michael Montgomery.
Any Silver Creek residents who have not received a ballot should contact Kathy Handsaker at (435) 649-4286 to receive one. Ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 4 or can be dropped off on Election Day at the Service Area 3 Well House, 956 Echo Lane.
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