Throughout my decade of service as an elected official I have opposed tax increases while supporting initiatives that deliver City services to residents in the most economical manner.
While running for mayor, I promised Turlock residents that I would not support building a $288 million surface water treatment plant, to be built by the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority, without storage if it would drastically increase monthly water rates.
As mayor, I have involved myself in all aspects of the proposed water plant by:
1. Meeting with politicians to seek funding to reduce the projected $288 million water plant costs.
2. Seeking guidance from the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts regarding how best to meet Turlock’s water needs.
3. Directing our water experts to develop more cost-effective alternatives to the water plant, such as rehabilitating our local wells, or recruiting new water plant partners.
4. Directing staff to look again at purchasing treated water from the MID surface water treatment plant which is just 10 miles from the proposed Turlock-Ceres plant.
Unfortunately, to date, Stanislaus Regional Water Authority leaders have refused to provide me with details of the bids they have received to build this twin water plant. They also will not confirm the monthly water rate increase necessary to complete the project. In fact, these leaders seem to believe the proposed monthly water rate increases are no different than cable TV rate increases, that the project is too far along to stop, and that Ceres will build the twin water plant alone should Turlock pull out of the project as Modesto pulled out two years ago.
While the Turlock and Ceres city councils will ultimately decide the future of the water plant project, this decision must not be made without input and consent from Turlock and Ceres residents — the ratepayers.
To me, there are basically only two options available:
1. Build another water treatment plant like the MID water treatment plant.
2. Instead of having twin plants across the river from each other, turn the MID water treatment plant into a truly regional water plant that serves all residents of the Tuolumne River water basin.
To that end, I pledge that all water distribution plans capable of satisfying our water needs will be presented to the public before final action by the Turlock City Council.
To make this decision, we will need your help. Please attend our public workshops, ask questions, review media coverage concerning the proposed water rate increases, and most importantly, after considering all the facts, inform the mayor and council members which water alternative you believe is best for our city.
I am deeply committed to providing Turlock residents with safe, clean drinking water in the most affordable manner possible following a process that greatly values the consensus of the community.
Amy Bublak is mayor of Turlock.