WARREN - After at least two water hauling companies asked the city about purchasing raw water to use for drilling, the administration is asking City Council to pass emergency legislation authorizing it to negotiate contracts with companies seeking to by bulk water from the city.
"We do not want to have to come to council each time a company approaches us to buy water," Safety-Service Director and Mayor-elect Doug Franklin said.
Water Department Executive Director Robert Davis said one company suggested it would be interested in purchasing about a half-million gallons a month.
"We have not negotiated a contract or set a price for the raw water, but we can estimate that amount could bring in between $15,000 to $20,000 a year in additional revenue from that one contract," Davis said.
The city's water department does not have the infrastructure to sell raw water, only treated water.
It would have to make modifications at the plant, including setting up a separate water line and to place the water in a raw water fill station that would hold the water, he said. The department would have to add approximately 100 yards of new lines to a hydrant on the plant's property.
Water haulers would be able to come onto the plant's property, swipe an electronic card and take the amount of water needed, Davis said.
The purchase of raw water would cost the companies less than they would pay to purchase water that is treated by the water department. The amount of water taken by individual companies would be measured electronically, allowing the company to be charged for whatever the negotiated price of the water.
Although selling water to companies for drilling purposes is one possible source of additional income for the city, Davis warns the amount of cash is limited by the amount of can be obtained each day.
Davis is asking to pass the ordinance during today's City Council meeting because he believes he could have a contract negotiated and signed within the next several weeks.
"We want to be ready when the companies are ready to purchase the water," Davis said. "We believe we can have the infrastructure needed to begin selling raw water up by April."
Because the design of the proposal is for the water haulers to be self-serving in obtaining their water, the department will not have to add employees.
Earlier this year, Franklin approved a water rate increase that will begin next month to address a $1.8 million shortfall in the water department's budget.
Water rates will increase each year over the next five years for a total of 46 percent increase. The first increase water customers will experience will be 12 percent.