Let's Fix Our Water

Dissolve the Battle Ground Water Conservancy

Sign the Petition

291 freeholders have signed
Let's get to 300 freeholders!

See what neighbors are saying...
Receive a postcard? That was from us.

The Battle Ground Water
Conservancy District is Failing

The proof is in the pudding. Fill up a glass to see (and smell) for yourself.

Infrastructure is beyond repair

One of the highest water rates in the State

Water Conservancy is financially broke

Put money in your pocket by selling our water system

Shady Elections Practices

The Solution

This petition is a legal step to action to force the dissolution of the Water Conservancy. Once the below number of required signatures are met, it will be delivered to the Tippecanoe Circuit Courts, who along with the DNR will determine the fate of the Water Conservancy District.

Our Goal

Over 240 Signatures

By law 30% of Freeholders (landowners) of the roughly 800 properties in the District are required to sign

Our Plan

1. Obtain 240 freeholder signatures

2. Deliver Petition to the Tippecanoe County Circuit Court

3. Sell to Indiana American Water or allow the Town to manage water

What Neighbors Are Saying

These statements are from the Comments section of the petition. Sign now and add yours!

• Lack of filtration created the need for several industrial strength filters and a new softener when I moved in 2014. The water softener had to rebuilt this year, which cost $500.00. White clothes and hair still discolor. Low pressure too.

• My water comes into my house basically at a trickle. It takes 30 to 45 minutes to fill up the washer and do a load. Showering is difficult under a trickle as well. I buy bottled water to drink.

• Our water is off-color, has an odor and always has particles floating in it. Because of this, we decided that we don’t believe it’s safe for us or our young child to drink. We purchased a water cooler instead.

• Poor quality of water, I'm paying an extra $100 a month just to filter my water. That $100 could be better used for my kids.

• Monthly bill is outrageous 70.00 plus for 2 people.

• Tired of buying bottled water.

• Just moved here and noticed how high the water bill is. It is out of line with what I would expect for water service.

• There is no reason that our water should be 2x as much as West Lafayette. Especially since the quality of our water is so poor. I pay an absorbent amount on filters.

• The water is not filtered well. The sediment filter is so browned within less than every two weeks after a new one is put in.

• Signing this petition because the prices of the water here are exorbitantly high. The highest I’ve ever paid in my life. Way too high for medium quality water.

• We moved from Jasper County sulfur & White County sulfur & iron water. But the local treatment "fixed it". This water is the Worst we've had in over 60 years Hoosiers! YIKES!

• Our water pressure is so low, the shower will sometimes "sing" because it can't get up to the shower head. We have had new appliances repaired because the sediment clogs the intake valves. We need to get better for the amount we pay.

• Our water quality is really bad and water bill is exorbitant.

• Poor water quality and many boil orders yearly.

• Please fix our water before folks get sick. Additionally, it is too high.

• Our water is so expensive and untreated. We also have boil alerts very often.

• I agree that the water bill is way too high!

The Petition

Petition to Dissolve the Battle Ground Water Conservancy District

We the people of Battle Ground and customers of the Battle Ground Water Conservancy District demand the Battle Ground Water Conservancy District be formally dissolved by means of a vote of its directors, due to the lack of benefit to our water system arising from:

• Lack of water pressure and water quality throughout Town
• Unsafe fire flows from 4” mains in 16% of Town
• Annual boil orders with no notification to restaurants
• Lack of functionality at 33% of wells
• Lead connections and out of date infrastructure
• Fiscally irresponsible financing of $1.3M water tower with 10% floating interest rate, costing an additional $400,000+ in interest
• 20+ year delay to replace the old water tower
• Disregard for a plan to tear down the old water tower
• Inappropriate election practices
• Unnecessary and wasteful Water Conservancy Board
• Lack of a master plan and associated rate study (built around the master plan)
• Excessive rate and tax increases with no true plan or value add
• Inconsistent billing across neighborhoods
• The risk of decrease in property values because of the above items

Detailed Facts and Supporting Documents

Your Water Conservancy District is failing you: annual boil orders, increased rates and taxes, poor water quality, poor water pressure, insufficient fire flow, broken hydrants, inefficient operations, fiscal irresponsibility, and short-sightedness. When will we (the taxpayers) revolt and stand up to this form of government? Haven’t we had enough?

What is it?
In general, a Conservancy District is a form of government established by the Indiana DNR as a solution for rural water and waste water issues. For example, a small development area along an interstate may create a Conservancy District to pool funds together from property owners to manage everyone’s wastewater. This form of government is not meant to provide water or waste water services to entire municipalities, as is the case in Battle Ground.

Conservancy Districts have the ability to charge rates for their services along with a tax on your property values. As your property value increases, so does the total amount you pay for the service, even if your usage stays the same.

In Battle Ground, we have a Conservancy District called the Battle Ground Water Conservancy District (“Water Conservancy”). It consists of a board of 7 “elected” officials and 1 full time employee. The Water Conservancy is not controlled by the Town Council/Municipal Town of Battle Ground. In Indiana there have been 135 Conservancy Districts created, 39 of which are inactive/dissolved. Of the remaining 96, only 24 supply water. Additionally, only 3 supply water to municipalities. Of those 3, the Battle Ground Water Conservancy District is the only one not significantly larger than the municipality is serves. Battle Ground is the only Town in Indiana with a Conservancy District that exists only for the Town’s purpose. So, what makes Battle Ground so unique that it requires a separate form of government to manage water when literally every other municipality manages its own water? Why are we been paying for this extra layer of government? How much money has been wasted over the years while our water system has deteriorated around us?

So, why do we have one?
In 1977 the Town of Battle Ground was offered a water tower for “free” by a neighboring business. Of course, there ended up being a sizable cost to transporting and installing this water tower, which is the water tower near Shawnee Ridge. In order to fund these costs, the Town took advantage of grants from the DNR to set up a Conservancy District (see highlights in attached support for proof). At the time of creation, the Water Conservancy was controlled entirely by the Town as it solely existed on paper.

Why do I care?
Because the Water Conservancy and the Town of Battle Ground serve almost identical customers, we are paying for an entirely separate and expensive board to solely manage water. On top of that, their taxes and rates keep increasing, yet pressure, quality, and boil orders are increasing. All the while, infrastructure is long overdue for replacement. We are paying a premium for a broken water system.

We are also paying for a local government full of inefficiencies arising from two decision making bodies overseeing almost identical service areas. Employees, resources, property, and equipment are haphazardly split and shared between the Town and the Water Conservancy, causing miscommunication and arguments, which create legal fees and wasted time. Clearly, a town this small doesn’t need two elected, paid boards.

This board is rife with conflicts of interest, fiscal mismanagement, election issues, and project mismanagement. All of this puts our safety and property values at risk, and we’re paying for it! It’s time we take back control of our water and dissolve the Battle Ground Water Conservancy District.

Supporting Documents

Creation Order to Create Creation Petition to Create Creation DNR Creation Creation DNR FAQs Creation Listing of Districts in Indiana
It’s a beautiful, hot summer day outside. Grab a glass and go to your faucet. Turn it on. Does your glass fill up, or is your pressure too weak? If it does fill, are you actually going to drink the water?

As taxpayers and ratepayers, we are paying for a water system that is almost beyond repair.

Quality and Quantity:
So, how was your pressure? In many neighborhoods, if you tried this after 5pm you wouldn’t have any pressure. How was the quality? Was the water white, yellow, or grey with floating debris? Is this starting to sound familiar to you and your neighbors? We shouldn’t be paying for this with our taxes and rates. West Lafayette actually is paying significantly less than we are for better quality water and service.

Our water pressure issues derive from the fact that our water towers are drained from usage during the day, which leaves us at risk for fire issues at night. This is not a normal practice but is done by the Water Conservancy to alleviate usage of their pumps. Since 1 out of our 3 water wells is often not functioning, the pumps on the 2 working wells would be working overtime to keep up with the demand needed to maintain the tower at appropriate levels all day (See highlights in Well Usage.xls for limited usage on Well 3). Some folks have had as low as 7psi into their homes. The State recommends 20psi for safety standards, while the average household pressure is around 40-45psi (Popular Mechanics).

When water pressure drops below 20psi, a boil advisory must be issued. This means water is assumed to be unsafe and must be boiled to become drinkable. This event has occurred twice in the last two years due to our deteriorating water system. How did you find out about the boil advisory? How long had you been drinking and using the water before you became aware? Little warning or notice is given to citizens as no legitimate alert system is in place. Most residents continue using the water without boiling for 1-2 days before hearing about the boil advisory. Additionally, restaurants in town are not notified of boil advisories. So, they could be serving contaminated water to customers for days at a time, exposing the customers to health risks and the restaurants to legal risks. A survey was taken of these restaurants to see if they were notified and how the boil advisory affected their business. (See Boil Surveys for comments directly from these businesses) When asked in a public meeting if restaurants were notified, the Water Conservancy operator lied to the board and public, with no repercussion.

Our water quality issues derive from our wells, which have no filtration system. Chemicals are added and the water is piped to the water towers and our homes. This leaves much of the sediment and debris in the water, as we all experience. Many folks in town don’t feel safe drinking the water. Even a Water Conservancy director has admitted to not drinking the water. (See images comparing the Water Conservancy wells to legitimate filtration systems, like those that exist 3 miles from town where West Lafayette gets their water.)

Quality is also limited in such an old and crumbling infrastructure. Lead connections still exist throughout town and possibly in the water tower that is still standing from 1927. This tower has been recommended for updates for many years by IDEM and has been in such disrepair that the water cannot be completely drained to test it, for fears that it will fail. In the Water Conservancy’s 1995 District Plan they addressed the need to replace the water tower, stating it would need replaced by 2004 for $180,000. Yet, in 2019 we are finally replacing the tower for $1,250,000. (See pages 28 and 30 of the BGCD District Plan). So, why did it take over 20 years to replace this tower? Where has our money been going if not into our infrastructure?

Why do I care?
Water is our most important resource, which we rely on for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. We can’t afford to keep throwing money into our broken system, applying band-aide solutions haphazardly, without a legitimate master plan and related rate study. Our current water system is leveraging our health and safety and property values.

Supporting Documents

Creation BGCD District Plan Creation Boil Advisory Survey Creation Real Filtration System Creation BGCD Wells Creation Homeowner Image Creation Homeowner Image Creation Well Usage
Show me the money.

How We Pay for Water:

1. Property Taxes
The Water Conservancy is a special taxing district that is able to charge you a tax based on the real property you own, while utilities under a municipality must operate solely by rates. Your taxes do not fund municipal utilities. This means that non-profits do not pay their fair share into our water system since they do not pay property taxes. Larger lots or more expensive properties may be paying more than their fair share as well.

You can find the tax you pay on Table 4 of your property tax statement by following the below link, searching your name, and clicking on the first tax statement. (See attached example.)

2. Usage via Rates
Obviously, we all pay rates for the water we use. These rates are increasing 56%. This is below the proposed rate of 78% in the Water Conservancy’s rate study, which analyzes future projects and the current cash position to determine how much rates need to increase (See Rate Study page 14). Unfortunately, this rate study did not include all the future projects needed to bring our water infrastructure and water quality up to 21st century standards because the Water Conservancy does not have a legitimate master plan or 5 year plan. Their sole planning consists of a bullet point to-do list of projects, with no cost estimates, engineering designs, or real planning of any kind (See 5-Year Plan pdf). Because the rate study did not have a solid foundation of future projects, we can expect more rate increases soon to cover all the projects that were lacking in the analysis (like a filtration system or replacement of 4" water mains). The same thing occurred in 2007 when the Water Conservancy increased rates by 70%. (See page 2 of: 2007 70%.pdf)

Most utilities create master plans, which are then used to create a rate increase schedule, making slight increases each year, well in advance of projects. This method has less of a sudden impact on ratepayers’ pocket while also spreading the cost out over time to folks who use the system. For example, with this 56% rate increase, our current water users are paying for 20+ years’ worth of inactivity by the Water Conservancy all at once. The folks who have recently moved away did not have to invest in our water’s future. So, we are carrying the full load all at once.

This increase of 56% will bring our water rates up to $10.72 per 1,000 gallons. Only the Water Conservancy has oversight of their rates. Rate adjustments are not approved by the IURC or any overarching governmental unit.

West Lafayette, whose water wells, filtration system, and water mains are 3 miles from Battle Ground, currently pays $4.93 per 1,000 gallons (See page 2 of: WL Water Rates 2019). They also charge a Meter Fee. After factoring in this meter fee and the Water Conservancy’s tax, you can see we are all spending an extra $100-400/year on very low quality water and pressure. USE THE ABOVE CALCULATOR TO SEE HOW MUCH YOU WOULD SAVE. (See the Rate Comparison excel file for the underlying math. Change the grey/blue cells for your situation.)

We could easily lower our infrastructure costs and headaches by buying water in bulk from West Lafayette’s water provider or using that provider for all of our infrastructure and services. This is entirely legal and done often throughout the state. By receiving water from a much larger supplier, we would receive better quality product and service for cheaper rates, due to the economies of scale.

Why do I care?
Who enjoys overpaying for a low quality product, especially when a cheaper, yet superior product is right down the road?

Supporting Documents

Creation 5-Year Plan Creation 2007 70% Creation Rate Comparison Creation Rate Study Creation WL Rates 2019 Creation Tax Example
So, what happens if the Battle Ground Water Conservancy District is dissolved?

Don’t worry; we will still have water if the Water Conservancy is dissolved.

In the event the Water Conservancy was dissolved the responsibility and oversight of water would fall under the Town of Battle Ground as it originally was before 1977. As mentioned in "Background", over 90% of towns governments in Indiana have control over their water utility. Water conservancies are not necessary for us to receive water. This is a highly unusual situation.

The dissolution of the Water Conservancy would give voters more direct control over their water, since currently voter turnout to Water Conservancy elections (which aren’t handled by the County) is less than 1%. This means, as citizens, we are not taking control of our government, which is why we are receiving poor services.

With this power over our water system, we can then demand appropriate action be taken following the proposed plan below:

1. Rate Freeze - We need to stabilize rates until a formal and qualified plan can be made, not a listing of to-do items.

2. Engineering Study - An engineering analysis and master plan needs created for our entire water system to determine short term and long term projects that are needed to modernize and rectify our neglected infrastructure. Seeing as a new water tower will not clarify or clean our water, a multimillion dollar filtration system will likely be high on the priority list. Additionally, lead connections and 4” water mains (that don’t provide appropriate fire protection or water pressure) need replaced as soon as possible.

3. Rate Study - Once a listing of short term and long term projects is created, an accounting firm should help us determine a scheduled and structured rate plan so taxpayers aren’t shocked by sudden 56-70% increases with little warning or explanation. Our rates should not be hidden from us, hard to find, or hard to understand. We should be aware of how our rates will likely change in the short-term.

On that note, the tax the Water Conservancy charges on our property would not exist if they were dissolved. This means we would all pay a fairer share for our water solely based on usage.

4. Other Options - We should then compare the rates derived in the rate study in Step 3 to other water providers’ rates. As noted in a prior post, Indiana Water maintains a water filtration system 3 miles from Battle Ground, with mains even closer. Their rates, attached, are also significantly cheaper than ours. It may be desirable to purchase water in bulk from, or outsource our entire water system and maintenance to, a third party like Indiana Water to benefit from their economies of scale, knowledge, and efficiencies.

If a third party is more expensive, then we will be fully prepared to implement our rate schedule and master plan to give every house clean, drinkable, and reliable water.

Why do I care?
Not having a plan or strategy for our water means we overpay when haphazard decisions are made by the Water Conservancy. We need to take an active control in our water to be better prepared.
Let’s step back for a minute from our neglected water infrastructure, low quality service, and financial mismanagement to address some common myths “preventing” us from taking control of our water.

Myth 1: Having two boards provides checks and balances. False, the Town has no oversight or control over anything the Water Conservancy does. The Water Conservancy has no oversight or control over the Town. There is no check or balance. The existence of two completely separate councils and entities leads to inefficiencies, disorganization, miscommunication, and higher costs for us all, not oversight. This is why over 90% of towns have all their utilities under one roof. Let common sense prevail!

Myth 2: A Water Conservancy can’t be dissolved. False, as supported in "Background", many Conservancy Districts have been dissolved. The DNR has a listing of all 28 Districts (21% of the total created) that have been dissolved, including West Lafayette’s.

Myth 3: The Water Conservancy serves people outside of Town limits. Therefore, they can’t be a Town utility. False, utilities can serve customers outside of town limits. The sewage utility already does this.

Myth 4: The Town just wants the Water Conservancy’s revenue. False, water, as controlled by the Town, would be managed as a “utility”. Utilities are subsets of governments that can only operate on usage rates. They must be self-sufficient. This means no tax dollars we pay are used for the utility. Receipts from the utility cannot be used for other purposes other than for the utility. So, all the rates we would pay for water would be used for water purposes.

Myth 5: We won’t have water if the Water Conservancy is dissolved. False. All utilities would be under one roof. Logistically nothing would change for the end user. Your water would come to you in the same way. You’d pay your bill the same. You’d just have more representation, more control over those managing your water. You can then actually hold your elected officials accountable to provide you with safe, clean, and cost effective water, which currently isn’t happening.

Myth 6: Just be thankful you have water (Euphemism for “sit down and shut up”). Yes, the people of Flint, Michigan were also apparently entitled enough to expect clean water in return for paying their water bills. Why are we voluntarily paying for a bad product? When someone selling you a product tells you to be thankful for it, you know they’re ripping you off.

Myth 7: One entity can’t handle managing all utilities. False, over 90% of towns already do this with democratically elected officials who then appoint and hire the appropriate staffing and experts for day-to-day management. Proper planning is critical, which isn’t being done by the Water Conservancy. We are all now paying extra money as a result of decades of mismanagement and poor planning.

Myth 8: We trust the Water Conservancy more than the Town. That’s great. The Water Conservancy directors should then run for Town Council because currently they are not being democratically elected. Have you ever been to a Water Conservancy election in January? Nope. No one has. Why would you trust an entity which you didn’t even know existed until now?

Why do I care?
We hear a lot of false roadblocks regarding dissolving the Water Conservancy, but they’re clearly incorrect. Let’s do it. Let’s get water we can actually drink. I’m tired of buying bottled water.
Fire Protection:

The majority of downtown Battle Ground is supplied water on a 4” main (See 4in Mains PDF pages 1 and 3). This is over 16% of our water mains. This means there is not sufficient water flow in the pipes to fully protect from fires because the 4” diameters restrict flow. This is why the State (IDEM) requires a minimum of 6” mains. These small mains are also more susceptible to mineral build up, decreasing water quality, as many residents experience.

So, are we safe from a fire? How did a house in April 2018 completely burn down within 800 feet of the fire station and water tower?

As our local Fire Chief (Tippecanoe Township Volunteer Fire Department) points out in the attached audio file from 2018, water pressure is extremely important for fire protection (Fire Audio). The old water tower from 1927, as stated in the audio, is “insufficient for fire protection”. So, why wasn’t this tower replaced sooner by the Water Conservancy? (As we saw in a "Infrastructure Issues", the Water Conservancy recognized the need for replacement in 1995.)

Unfortunately, the replacement water tower that is currently under construction will likely only increase water pressure for those residents below the hill. The 4” diameter water mains don’t allow for adequate flow regardless of the tank size and height.

As of 2018, the valve that allows the transfer of water from the water tower on the hill (near Hawk’s Nest) to the rest of town was broken for an extended period of time, apparently preventing water from flowing from the hill to the Historic District in the event of a fire (See Broken Valve PDF). If this valve is still broken, it significantly reduces the amount of water available to fight a fire in certain parts of town.

Communities, in regards to fire protection, are rated by an independent agency, Insurance Services Office (ISO). This agency issues a report with a “grade” of the community’s ability to suppress a fire. The capabilities of the underlying water system influence this “grade”. The Tippecanoe Township, under which we fall, has a rating of 6 out 10, with 1 being the best (See “2015 ISO Report PDF” - page 7). This rating directly affects our home insurance premiums. Since we live in a more risky area, we pay higher home insurance premiums. Shouldn’t our water system be designed with the intent of improving our ISO rating?

As the Lafayette Water Works’ website states HERE, the ISO report does “affect property owners’ premiums.” (Lafayette has a 2 rating, which is very good.) It seems ironic this quote appears next to a Battle Ground Water Conservancy Director.

The aforementioned water issues are the underlying cause of any increased fire risk and may lead to decreased property values in the long term as people become wary of moving into a town with poor water conditions and less than ideal ISO ratings when better water and protection is provided by our neighboring cities.

Why do I care?
Obviously fires are a real risk for citizens, for which we need a reliable water system and supply. Until we do, those of us on 4” mains will be paying for the idea of increased water pressure and fire protection from the new tower. We will all continue to pay higher home insurance premiums, too.

Supporting Documents

Creation 2015 ISO Report Creation 4in Mains Creation Broken Valve Creation Fire Audio Creation Lafayette Water Works
You go to buy your first home and suddenly you are overwhelmed by the financial knowledge needed to obtain your loan. Do you go with a floating interest rate or fixed interest rate? Are rates going to increase or decrease in the next 30 years?

Financial Health

As of the most recent financial filings (12/31/2018), the Water Conservancy only has about $350,000 (See “Gateway”) in cash available for use to provide our water. This may sound like a large number from an individual’s perspective, but for an entity overseeing millions of dollars of infrastructure, this is extremely low. In the world of expensive infrastructure, a large emergency repair or two could deteriorate these savings significantly, putting the Water Conservancy in a tight spot.

Over the last 5 years the Water Conservancy has an average net income of about $42,000 (See “Gateway”). This means any spend on new or unusual expenses in excess of $42,000 will eat into the savings of $350,000. Within the last year the Water Conservancy signed a 26 year loan (technically a lease) with a floating interest rate up to 10% (See “Lease” page 2). Because of the poor fiscal planning and low cash on hand (the $350,000), no down payment was made and traditional financing was not reasonably sought. The monthly payments on this loan are about $70,000 per year (not to exceed $145,000), which is over the $42,000 average net income. This means the financial model at the time was not sufficient to accommodate the new water tower payments. The Water Conservancy couldn’t afford it.

So, like any good government agency that cannot go bankrupt, they came to us (the citizens) in the form of a 56% rate increase to help fund the tower, which is partially fine. We use the water tower (well, the lower half of town does at least); we should pay for the water tower. But, because the Water Conservancy has maintained such a low cash balance over the years, they couldn’t seek less expensive financing methods, like a traditional loan from a state agency at a fixed interest rate around 2-3%. Since rates had been at historic lows since the Great Recession, it was the perfect time to secure a fixed interest rate. Instead, they agreed to a floating interest rate up to 10%. While the difference between 2% and say 4.5% doesn’t seem like much, when applied to a 26 year, $1.25M loan, the additional interest adds up quickly. In this conservative scenario, we would pay an additional $410,000 in interest alone (See “Debt”). Interest rates were well over 10% in the 80s and also reached 10% in the 90s; it’s not unreasonable to assume we will hit the 10% ceiling in the next 26 years. With how low interest rates have been, they can only go up (as we are currently seeing).

This low cash balance is the reason we don’t have a filtration system, leading to sediment filled water. It’s the reason 16% of our mains are still 4 inches. It’s the reason it took over 20 years to replace the 1927 water tower. It’s the reason we are overpaying for the new water tower. It’s the reason rates have gone through the roof, and we’re now paying more than double what West Lafayette pays for better water. But how can the Water Conservancy have a larger cash balance without increasing rates? How can they afford these projects we are demanding without drastically raising rates again? They can’t.

The economies of scale just don’t add up here. Infrastructure costs are extremely high for modern water systems. We don’t have a large enough population over which to spread these large costs in an affordable manner. As more projects are undertaken and as interest rates increase on the loan for the new tower, our usage rates and water taxes are going to keep increasing. What is our limit? How high will we let them increase rates before we have had enough? Why are we not seeking other options as addressed in "A Plan"?

Why do I care?
We will be paying off this loan long after those on the Water Conservancy board are gone. We are stuck with the bill of poor financial management. We will be the ones stuck with rate increases in the future if they can’t afford their loan payments or take on more projects. This loan needs refinanced ASAP, and if you don’t agree, then please refinance your home through my bank; we have the best floating interest rates around.

Supporting Documents

Creation Debt Creation Gateway Creation Lease
As you may have noticed, our drinking water isn’t always clear. This is due to excess minerals and chemicals naturally occurring in the wells from which the water is pumped. Depending on where you live in town the old 4 inch water mains likely have mineral build up, adding to the problem.

When you pay for a water service, as opposed to having your own well, there are two main services you should expect: filtration and fire protection. We have already addressed fire protection in a previous post. Under our Water Conservancy’s watch, we receive no filtration services. Since we basically receive well water now, would we be better off avoiding these excessive rates by having our own individual wells?

In 2006 the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), performed a Utility Planning Study (See “Study” p. 107 – while there, read the other items recommended for repair) over our water system. At this time, they recommended constructing a water treatment facility with an estimated cost of $1.8-2.3M initially and $40,000 per year in perpetuity. (In 2006, they also identified the old water tower as needing replaced for an estimated $450,000.) Given the fact this study was performed over 10 years ago, costs have likely increased. If a $1.25M water tower caused our rates to increase 56% (which was the minimum increase recommended by the Water Conservancy’s consultant, maximum was 77%), how can we afford a filtration system that will likely cost over $2M? Can we ever afford filtered water? Should we be looking into the recommendations put forth in "A Plan"?

We as residents are already paying the price of not having a filtration system as the hard minerals in our water shorten the lives of our appliances: our sinks, faucets, fridge faucets, water softeners, washers, dish washers, tubs, toilets, ice makers, etc. Many residents also go out of their way to install whole home water filters that must be changed regularly (typically monthly). So, if you were to factor these costs into your monthly water rate, the total cost you pay for water would be even higher. Should we really be paying for these out of pocket expenses when we’re already paying over 2 times the water rate of neighboring communities who have filtration systems?

As we have seen the Water Conservancy is having financial trouble keeping up with existing infrastructure. How are we ever going to afford to get ahead and implement a treatment/filtration facility? Are we stuck with low quality water for eternity? Should we be looking into the recommendations put forth in "A Plan"?

Supporting Documents

Creation Study
One option to fix our broken water system, as mentioned in a previous post, is to sell the infrastructure and outsource the responsibility to a private company. In our case, this private company would likely be Indiana American Water given their extremely close proximity to Battle Ground. Their water filtration and water mains that provide West Lafayette with water are less than 3 miles away on North 9th Street, making for quick access to filtered water.

So, say this option was decided to be the best option. What would a sale look like?

(First appropriate analysis would need to be performed to make sure this is the best decision for water users and taxpayers. See "A Plan".)

1. Valuation - An independent third party would value the assets of the system: the pipes, the towers, the equipment, the pumps, etc., to determine an appropriate fair market value to be used as a sales price.

2. Planning - Indiana American Water would then create a long term plan to upgrade our aging infrastructure, with an emphasis on replacing lead connections, of which about 60% of connections in the Historic part of town are lead (See page 19 of “Study”). It’s safe to assume our outdated wells would be replaced by piping water from the North 9th Street filtration system to town, increasing our quality across all homes. Because Indiana American Water would own the system, this infrastructure cost would be paid for by them. Additionally, all infrastructure would be taxable, meaning the Town of Battle Ground would receive tax revenue from Indiana American Water, which could then be used for other needs in town.

3. Negotiation and Close - Once both parties agree on the valuation and plan, Indiana American Water then pays cash for the system. All debts are paid off with this money. Any excess cash would most likely be distributed back to us, the freeholders of the Water Conservancy (which would dissolve as a part of the sale). Here’s a real life example of what happens when a Water Conservancy sells to a third party. This occurred in small town outside of Terre Haute that couldn’t keep rates competitive due to economies of scale.

4. Benefits to Us All - We pay over 2 times less for filtered water than what we pay now for unfiltered water, and we will likely receive cash back for dissolving the Water Conservancy.

Benefits of a Sale

1. Lower Rates - Large infrastructure costs are spread across all Indiana American Water users in the State of Indiana, which is about 1 out of 6 Hoosiers. This means rates can be lower, which their rates are over 2 times lower than what we pay now.

2. No Taxes - The property tax imposed by the Water Conservancy would no longer exist.

3. Money in your Pocket – Selling the water system will provide all freeholders with a one-time cash payment.

4. Replacement and Repair of Infrastructure – A third party provider is under more scrutiny from the State and from rate payers than “volunteer” run water boards like ours. They are held to a higher standard and have much more money to lose in a lawsuit, making them a target for issues on lead and quality. This is why they focus on replacing lead connections quickly and updating infrastructure timely. We can expect to see more care and maintenance on our water system if it were sold.

What would it take for this to happen?

The Water Conservancy must understand that they cannot keep rates competitive while upgrading our lagging infrastructure due to the lack of economies of scale. We have too few of users to spread such large costs. They’re putting all of our water and property values at risk by ignoring this.

They must sell their system or at least hand over responsibility to the Town of Battle Ground to determine the best path forward.

Who would have thought the government could pay us back for our years of excessive rates and poor quality? Now is the time. Show me the money!

Supporting Documents

Creation Study
All across town residents have commented about billings being unusually high for the number of residents in their home. Water bills are calculated based on the water flowing through your meter. For a miscalculation or error to occur, either the meter is broken, the billing office made a mistake, or there is a water leak in your plumbing. If you check your monthly bill and your usage seems high (the average usage for a 4 person home is 4,000 - 5,000 gallons) check your plumbing for leaks. If no leaks are found, contact the Water Conservancy directly in writing regarding your issue.

Though we at BattleGroundWater.com cannot verify every homeowner’s comments, we have heard of multiple 2-person homes being billed based on the usage comparable to a 4 person household, which doesn’t match their expected usage. Some of their neighbors experienced the same thing. When the Water Conservancy was notified, they assumed it was a leak without evidence and without looking into the problem. So, these homeowners could be paying higher rates due to a broken meter or internal billing issue. Is our government lazy, or just taking advantage of us?

Again, if you have issues with billing, contact the Water Conservancy in writing. If you do not receive an appropriate response, contact the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) by filing a complaint HERE. Though the Water Conservancy is not regulated by the IURC (*) the State needs to be aware of any issues given the extremely minimal oversight of the Water Conservancy.

*The Water Conservancy spent $80,000 in lobbying fees to be removed from the IURC. Afterwards, they found out they were never in the IURC, wasting $80,000 of our money.

Get Involved

Contact us at BattleGroundWater@gmail.com to see how you can help.
In the meantime, contact your friends and neighbors. Let them know about these issues and ask them to sign!

Your Photos

Share your water photos with us.
Email your images to us at BattleGroundWater@gmail.com.

Check out this video. How do you feel about your water now?

Sign the Petition