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Liberty Water Customers Upset

By John Emerson
LIBERTY — May 26, 2000 -- The water flows past their houses in a rush to serve people in the Village of Liberty from the water plant at Lily Pond. The water travels within a pipeline they’ve tapped into for at least 50 years, but now about 25 town residences along the route are not getting enough pressure to draw the water.
The problem – in the Young’s Hill area of the town along Parksville Road not far from the village boundary – has town and village officials at odds over what to do. The village has advised residents to install pumps to draw water from the line, but it is not about to pay for the costly equipment.
The town could establish a water district and supply water to the residents, but that could cost up to $4,000 a home in the affected area, much more than homeowners are willing to pay, said Liberty Supervisor Richard Martinkovic. Without a district, grants and other government aid programs are out of reach.
“Legally, these are individuals contracting with the village for water,” he said. “There are 160 users along that line that generate $80,000 for the village. Most of them have no need for a district, so it doesn’t make sense for them.”
The problem for residents in the area began last month when MTBE pollution in village wells forced the wells to be shut down. A valve on the Lily Pond line had to be opened wide, resulting in a loss of back pressure for the people in the affected area. With no residual back pressure from a partially closed valve, the water raced down the hill past their homes, leaving them with no water pressure.
Martinkovic, a former member of the village board of trustees, said because the village had wells, the line from Lily Pond, near Parksville, has not been fully used in at least 30 years, so the potential problem went undetected.
Liberty Mayor Kevin Mullen said he and other village officials are sympathetic to the customers’ problems but says they are not obligated to solve the dilemma.
“We’re trying to do whatever we can do to remedy the situation,” he said. “We told them to install private pumps three months ago. Right now, that’s the only solution we have, so we have to go with that. Until they do that, they are going to have a problem.”
Martinkovic, however, thinks the problem needs to be resolved in some other way.
“The village has made it clear they are not interested in helping these people,” said Martinkovic. “There are already a few people who have decided to drill their own wells and give up village water. I live in the village. If the village loses these customers, my water rates are going up. That’s not something I want to see happen. One thing I’m sure of: the last chapter on this has yet to be written.”


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