Stillwater News Press

Opinion

March 15, 2014

DAN GALLOWAY: City, water district work well together

STILLWATER, Okla. — I would like to respond to the Feb. 25 editorial regarding water agreements between city of Stillwater and Rural Water District #3.

The implications of the editorial may lead readers to reach some seriously incorrect conclusions.

When I came to the position of Stillwater city manager nine years ago, talks had already begun regarding the jointly built and owned water tower project on West 56th Avenue.

The Sunday editorial stated “Rural Water District 3 officials should want the city of Stillwater to connect the Perkins Road Booster Pump Station when it is completed to keep the tower full, and have enough water for its customers and Stillwater’s customers.”

I am confused as to why this says “should want.”

In my nearly nine years of discussions with RWD #3 representatives, I have never heard any inkling of suggestion that they would want anything else.

From the very beginning of discussions, both the city and RWD #3 have planned on installing a pump station on south Perkins Road and pumping water through RWD #3 water lines to fill the tower for both to use.

The article further states the officials from both entities “... haven’t been able to reach an agreement that would allow the city’s pump station to use the district’s pipelines.”

Again, I am not aware of anyone indicating the pipelines could not be used. Furthermore, neither RWD #3 nor any of its representatives have ever indicated that their pipelines are or ever have been “off limits” as the editorial suggests.

My experience with Rural Water District #3 is that they have always shown intent to be a good partner in building and utilizing the new water tower to the mutual benefit of RWD #3 water customers and Stillwater water customers.

So, why all the talk about the agreement and talking about it for over a year?

First, let’s take a look at what we are trying to do in terms of an agreement or contract between the city and RWD #3 if the cooperation has been as good as I have said here.

Although I have seen a good relationship between mayors and City Council members and RWD #3 board members for nine years, someone raised the question about “what if” that changes in the future. Not necessarily a bad question.

In fact, it is a good question for long-term assurance.

None of us know how the RWD #3 manager, city manager, RWD #3 board, mayor and city councilors of 2025 or beyond will get along.

Therefore, we set out to draft an agreement that would give both parties security that water will be available, pumped through the lines to the tower and available for both to use in the future even though we know we can do that right now by mutual agreement.

That sounds like a very simple agreement, but as we began developing the agreement it became very complex. Not because either side wanted to make it complex but it is the nature of the business.

We cannot predict where every new customer will locate and whether or not that will require relocating lines, replacing lines, changing pumps and many more factors.

Those types of changes will happen for both RWD #3 and for the city in years to come.

To write an agreement that covers possible impacts for all those combinations and how we both will respond is not a simple task.

We do not need to stop working on such an agreement and I expect both sides to continue to do so. But in the meantime we (RWD #3 and city of Stillwater) have worked together in a positive manner to jointly construct a much needed water tower which will serve us both.

That project was entered into and completed with both sides knowing full well that we would use assets of both entities (including pumps and pipelines) to our mutual advantage. Customers of both water suppliers should be secure in knowing these parties have and continue to work together to all their benefit.

Dan Galloway is city manager of the city of Stillwater.

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