Kennewick Irrigation District officials are talking about trying to find someone to take over providing domestic water to customers in the Elliott Lake area south of Kennewick and the Lorayne J area near Interstate 82 and Badger Canyon.
Chuck Freeman, KID secretary-manager, told the board Tuesday that it might be a good idea for the agency to divest itself of the two drinking water systems so KID can put all its efforts into managing its irrigation system.
The Elliott Lake and Lorayne J systems are the only drinking water systems KID owns. Freeman said both have wells that have had problems.
KID has had to rely on water obtained through an intertie with the city of Kennewick to serve Elliott Lake's approximately 80 homeowners with domestic water, and the wells serving Lorayne J residents have "a nitrate issue," he said.
No board vote is needed to investigate the possibility of selling off the systems, Freeman said. He recommends hiring a consultant at a cost not to exceed $20,000 to determine the systems' value.
Based on a simple formula using acre-feet of water, Freeman estimated each system was worth between $400,000 and $500,000, but that did not take into account any other considerations.
The two systems have enough resources on hand to pay for the consultant and any legal services needed, Freeman said.
KID purchased the domestic system for Lorayne J's 118-lot subdivision in 1993 for $125,000, and planned to invest that much more in improvements.
KID ratepayers will not have a vote on any decision to sell of the two domestic water systems, Freeman said, but there will be two public open houses scheduled so the public can ask questions and learn about the proposed change in ownership.
"We should let someone else have them," said director Kirk Rathbun.
But director Patrick McGuire advised to wait on making comments until the consultant makes a recommendation.