Kennewick Irrigation District officials are trying to decide if customers who receive irrigation water through private lines should get a break in water rates because they don't receive maintenance benefits.
KID's Water Rates Advisory Board members received a report Monday about the 191 private lines serving 6,045 parcels covering 4,800 mostly urban acres.
Scott Revell, planning manager, said private line areas, which represent about one-fourth of KID's irrigable acres, "can be problematic."
He said that unlike pressurized service areas, which constitute about 65 percent of KID's 21,000 parcels and receive irrigation maintenance service right up to their yards, many customers in private line areas don't know they alone are responsible for their own water line problems.
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"Our assessment system does not distinguish between pressurized service areas and private lines areas. There is no distinction on the tiered toll rate," Revell said.
The private line areas issue has become important as the committee nears the end of a yearlong review of KID's tiered rate structure and waits for a consultant's report on possible rate changes.
"Right now they pay the same assessments as everyone else. The question for (our consultant) is how to go about allocating costs, and should the private line areas be different," Revell said.
Committee member Gary Hall said he would like more detailed information about the private line areas, but Revell said there practically is no history about them, it isn't known how many have pressurized water, and they only recently have been identified and put on a district map.
Kirk Rathbun, committee chairman and a KID board member, was concerned about the confusion that can occur with private line areas, especially those that lack water masters. Those situations leave KID employees with no point of contact when there is a problem, he noted.
Rathbun said one solution might be to convert all private line areas to pressurized service areas, but costs could be high.
Revell also briefed the committee about KID's 162 pressurized service areas, noting they bring a large maintenance burden. He said the district may want to consider "the economic merits" to adding more pressurized service areas.
If KID quit accepting new pressurized service areas, those customers would have to find a way to work together to solve their own maintenance issues, he said.
The board and the water rate advisory committee plan to consider both topics in a joint meeting April 5, when the consultant is to release his report.
-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org