The Talkeetna Water and Sewer Advisory Board met on Wednesday, July 10th. The major topics of the meeting were the status of metering of the Talkeetna water system as well as the state funding that is slated to research the best solution for the system going forward.
According to Jennifer Ballinger, who attended the meeting representing the Public Works Division of the Mat-Su Borough, it has been determined that the gauges on all of the currently installed water meters are incorrect. The manufacturer, Badger Meter, Inc., has acknowledged that the gauges are for the wrong model of meter, and is sending replacement gauges to be installed. There is no decision yet on whether the manufacturer, contractor, or engineer will be responsible for covering the cost of the installation of the new gauges, but Ballinger says that there is no discussion at the Borough of the Water and Sewer Board paying for the labor to install them.
In addition, the status of a state revenue-sharing grant was discussed. This winter, a grant application was filed that says that the Talkeetna “water and sewer system is just short of disaster.” This refers to the over $300,000 dollars of debt to the Mat-Su Borough, as well as a lack of critical replacement parts. The water system also has a significant annual operating deficit. According to the Water and Sewer Board, Borough Assembly member Vern Halter led the effort that resulted in the Assembly allocating $75,000 to the water and sewer system, which would cover the estimated deficit for the next fiscal year.
The state legislature accepted the grant proposal, and approved $100,000. That money is to be used to hire an expert to assess the state of the water system and provide potential solutions to the mounting debt. Board member Jim Kellard stated at the meeting that he believes there is simply not enough money available for the system to be self-sufficient, even after a rate structure is finalized.
Karen Schapansky, President of the Water and Sewer Board, says that there was a significant delay in hearing back from the Borough regarding how they will proceed with the grant, but that a plan for utilizing the funding is now being made.