By Pauline Masson
Pacific residents are complaining that city water is too hard, according to Alderman Mike Bates.
Residents are saying hard water scales are causing household appliances to be replaced too soon, he said.
The Ward 1 alderman said he continues to hear complaints from the public that they are not happy with the hardness of city water and he wants to know why it’s that way.
Speaking at the Nov. 15 board meeting, Bates said when voters approved a capital improvement tax in 2004, the city promised the public they would have water softeners on all three wells.
Public Works Commissioner Robert Brueggemann said the three softeners are out of operation and have been off since the flood in December 2015.
“When will they be back online?” Bates asked.
Brueggemann said he’s unsure when work could be completed to get the softeners up and running again. The problem, he said, is funds.
“We have to get prices on parts,” he said, adding that the water softeners had not been a priority for his department.
“There is not enough money in the water department,” Brueggemann said. “The water softeners are not a priority.”
“The public thinks it’s a priority,” Bates said. “We used it to sell the capital improvement sales tax. The public is demanding it.”
Alderman Carol Johnson told The Missourian that she asked Brueggemann to bring a report of the problems at each of the three softeners and the cost to make the repairs to the next board meeting.
“I’m concerned about the direction we’re taking here,” Johnson said. “We just blew $9,000 on a carnival and we can’t fix the water softeners. We need to take a strong look at this.”
The city’s water department is budgeted with funds collected on city water bills, which is kept separate from all other city funds, including the sewer department funds.
The sewer department fund has a reserve for future repairs. The water department often spends more for routine operation than the city collects from users.
City Administrator Steve Roth told The Missourian that he had talked with Brueggemann after the Nov. 15 meeting.
“He (Brueggemann) is getting a plan together, with costs, to get the water softeners back up and running,” Roth said. “I think there is a fair amount of cost involved so repairs or upgrades will likely require budget approval.”
Roth said he and Brueggemann would package all the information together and then submit to the aldermen for their direction.