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Council hears water charge complaint

WALSENBURG — During the citizens’ forum portion of the city council meeting Tuesday night, Walsenburg resident Henry G. Quintana III, gave council members and administration an earful concerning an out-of-the-ordinary water bill. Quintana said for about two months his city water bill has shown usage of approximately 26,000 gallons, far above his family’s average use of about 7,000 gallons. He said he had received no satisfaction from city front desk utility clerks or city administrator David Johnston. He said he has no leaks in his home and that kind of excessive flow on his property would show

some damage. Frustrated, Quintana said administration told him, you used the water, you have to pay for it or get shut off. “No way my household has used nearly 60,000 gallons in two months,” he said. He said he knows of many people in the same situation who are afraid to come forward. Johnston told the council city water department personnel have been to the residence, at least twice, and have checked the meter and it appears to be working. He said field tests where the resident was asked to ensure no water was flowing also showed no flow through the meter. Mayor James Eccher, after hearing the lengthy discussion told Johnston to have water department crews to change the meter at the residence. “We’ll do it if we haven’t done it already,” Johnston said. Asked if he was satisfied, Quintana said, “That’ll be a start, it’s more action than I’ve gotten before.” In his defense against Quintana’s allegations of poor treatment by staff, Johnston told the council he did not make statements like those alleged by Quintana. “I think you know me well enough to know that,” he said. Johnston said in this kind of incident he asks the citizen a lot of questions, trying to ascertain if the consumer has done all the checking of their property, looking for leaks, that can be done before accusing the city of inaction. City attorney Dan Hyatt cautioned the mayor and council to follow the regulations set out by ordinance, and counseled against them acting in an arbitrary or capricious manner, by not treating all residents the same. Eccher said these kinds of incidents are perfect for discussion during Utility Committee meetings, held at 1 pm at city hall each Monday before regular council sessions. He urged residents to attend those sessions. In other business, council accepted Nancy Lave’s letter of resignation from the Housing Authority Board and voted to advertise the open position. They voted to approve Ordinance 1042 concerning weeds and rubbish; approved a nearly $16,000 purchase from water haul funds to outfit a new credit card optional and regulated metering system for the water haul unit at city hall from Eaton Sales and Service; and approved a $7,000 initial one year contract with Corporate Technologies Inc., to work on secure computer updates at the city. They also approved an agreement with Parker Ag Services for the bio-solid project at the city sewer lagoons; and approved a contract with Element Water Consulting/Beorn Courtney from Lakewood. Courtney had been part of Headwaters Corp. who has represented the city in water engineering and water rights issues for the past two years.