Pacific Mayor Herbert Adams has blasted Brush Creek Sewer District officials in letters sent to citizens.
Adams states in one letter that the sewer district has demonstrated “incompetence and arrogance” by refusing to take action to fix sewer problems.
In the letters, which were dated June 4 and 5, Adams discussed the lawsuit his city has filed against the sewer district, which is overseen by the three county commissioners.
Fail to Meet
Meanwhile, Second District County Commissioner Mike Schatz said Pacific officials have been unreceptive to sitting down with sewer district trustees to address the problems. It appears Pacific officials do not want to pursue that avenue, Schatz said.
The sewer district can only extend the olive branch so many times, Schatz added. He said he would rather work problems out cooperatively rather than going to court.
Adams could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.
But in his letters, Adams states that the city has been trying for seven years to get the sewer district and county to address the problems to no avail.
The three county commissioners — Schatz, Tim Brinker and John Griesheimer — also serve as the sewer district trustees.
Griesheimer said the sewer district is still open to meeting with Pacific to solve the problems.
Pacific City Administrator Harold Selby said he thinks that meeting will happen once the sewer district completes some testing and gets some cost estimates to fix problems. Selby added that he has been in contact with Brinker about what is being done to address the issues.
For the city to send letters to people who live outside of Pacific presents an ethical problem, Griesheimer said.
Spending taxpayer money outside of the city for political purposes is a “gray area” that may get Adams in trouble, Griesheimer added.
Selby said the letters were not sent out for political purposes but to inform the people of what is going on. Selby added that the city got the list of ratepayers through an open records request to the sewer district.
This is just another attempt by Pacific to run the sewer district in a “de facto” manner, Griesheimer asserted.
Brush Creek customers have contacted the city to say they appreciate the letters being sent out and that they are glad Pacific is working to resolve problems with the district, Selby added.
Some of the Brush Creek customers have said that they have sewage backups in their yards and basements, Selby said.
In one letter, Adams wrote that “the city felt as though it had no choice but to file this suit to protect city taxpayers.”
One letter was sent to city residents while the other was to Brush Creek Sewer District ratepayers.
Brinker said he thinks writing the letters is an interesting tactic. Brinker noted that he and Schatz were only in office about four months before the sewer district was sued by the city.
Griesheimer also did not create the problem with the sewer district, Schatz said. The commissioners inherited the problem with the sewer district and are committed to working it out, Schatz added.
Griesheimer said he is not pointing fingers at anyone but just trying to move forward.
In the letters, Adams discusses why the lawsuit was filed. He says the sewer district has violated the contract with Pacific.
Under the contract, the city treats the sewage from the sewer district. But the city claims that the sewer district routinely exceeds the amount of sewage that is allowed to be sent to the city treatment plant per day.
Pacific also claims that the sewer district illegally connected the Travelodge hotel to the sewage system by not seeking authorization from the city first.
“The city hopes the lawsuit will be a wake-up call for the district to honestly and in good faith agree to a plan acceptable to the city to get into compliance, but if not, we asked a judge to require it,” Adams stated in the letter to the residents.
Adams noted that insurance rates in the city have already risen because of sewage backups into city residents’ basements.
Adams also points out in his letters that infiltration of rainwater into the sewer system is a big problem because this results in higher amounts of discharge to the city’s treatment plant. This can overwhelm the city’s system, he added.
Schatz said the district is doing everything it can to address the infiltration problems.
Adams also addressed the sewage overflow at the Shaw Nature Reserve that occurred in January, saying, it resulted in “tens of thousands of gallons of raw sewage” to flow into Brush Creek, upstream from the city.
But Brinker said it is inaccurate to say all of the discharge was raw sewage, adding that much of it was rainwater.
Finally, in his letters Adams said he believes there are “good and decent” public officials at the sewer district and the county.