Written by John Plestina
The Culbertson City Council discussed a new water rate schedule that would increase water user rates during the monthly council meeting Monday, May 5.
Montana Rural Water Systems of Great Falls gave the council a presentation on the proposed water rate structure.
If the council approves the recommendations, the base rate would increase from $14.50 to $21.05.
Another proposed change would switch the Culbertson system to an Equal Dwelling Equivalent (EDU), where water users who use more water would pay more.
“This is to line up with Dry Prairie utility billing,” Mayor Gordon Oelkers said.
The council is also considering not including water usage in the base rate. Instead, customers would only pay for the water they use.
“The people who aren’t using the 3,000 minimum won’t pay for that,” Oelkers said.
Another change the council discussed was to charge 76 cents per barrel for bulk water at the coin shack.
“For us to get our loans, we have to be at the target rate and this puts us at or below the target rates,” Oelkers said.
In other business, comments were heated during a council discussion about the Department of Environmental Quality permitting process for a proposed radioactive waste dump that would accept oilfield waste, some containing low levels of radioactivity.
“I’m personally for this,” Oelkers said. “I’m against the location where they want to put it.”
He said he is opposed to the location because 12 residences are located within a mile and a half of the 160-acre development site on Montana Hwy. 16, about five miles north of Cul-bertson. Oelkers said he wants the site moved to an area where there are no residences nearby.
“We requested a public meeting to address our concerns,” he said.
DEQ section supervisor recently told The Searchlight that a public meeting would be held but he did not know when.
In another matter, the council approved the final plat for the Wheatland Hills Subdivision, a 180-lot multi-use residential development that will accommodate a mix of new houses, apartment buildings, mobile homes and recreational vehicles.
“They’ll be starting curbing and street work next week. By the middle of the month, they’ll have some RVs coming in,” Oelkers said
“It’s a big addition for the town of Culbertson. It could increase it 200 to 400 (population). Two-hundred for sure,” he said.
The council also discussed Sionix Corporation’s buy/sell agreement to purchase the Montola Plant east of Culbertson.
“They are going to reclaim frack water and production water and sell it back as heavy frack water,” Oelkers said.
Sionix would employ between five and 20 employees in Culbertson, he said.
In another matter, Oil Stone Logistics attended the council meeting and was interested along with Sionix in leasing the city’s water treatment plant once the city is connected to Dry Prairie.
“We don’t know what we can do with our water rights on that,” Oelkers said.
The council will revisit the issue during a future meeting.