As President of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District, I have pondered the arguments consuming the Board recently. I have thought of a metaphor for the problem. Since most people have automobiles, car maintenance would seem to help people understand how and why spending public money is appropriate.
Changing the oil on your car, though it costs money out of pocket, can be cheaper than not. A blown engine or a new car costs much more than regular oil changes. Similarly, maintaining ditches, valves and pipes is cheaper than ignoring them.
The real expense for a utility is when a pipeline is shut off for weeks, and a contractor works overtime to repair it. It is always cheaper to do the maintenance before the pipes break. But, someone needs to plan to maintain the system to prevent expensive emergency repairs.
The current push plans to save lots of nickels, ignoring that it will cost dollars when the system fails (and, eventually it will fail). Maintenance isn’t fun, isn’t free, and isn’t exciting. It is always harder to justify saving money over the long term. Unfortunately, one can beat the drum loudly over saving nickels, but those emergency dollars always seem necessary when the system fails, because it is an emergency, and no one wants to stop to think about it. I hope petty politics will not prevent rational planning, even if maintenance nickels are necessary.