Statement by the Hopkins Water Board
The new Hopkins Water Board wishes to publicly thank the previous Water Board, especially its Chairman, Gaspar Martinez, for his continued efforts to upgrade the Hopkins water system despite the difficult and trying circumstances of the past years. The new Board stands ready to build on their efforts, and we commend their service to the village of Hopkins.
Because there are a variety of obstacles to overcome and some difficult decisions to make, the new Board feels that a Public Statement and Accounting is appropriate. Please understand that we serve all of Hopkins Village, and our decisions will be guided by technical considerations, not political ones, in the pursuit of sustainable water for all residents and businesses of Hopkins.
The first difficulty is the current water shortage. This was caused by the collapse of our primary well. We are only functioning on 40% capacity - at best - from our secondary well. A new well has not yet been started, and we have just appealed to Ministers Ferguson and Requena for immediate assistance in digging one. Please understand that our water situation is very tenuous; a blackout that lasts for 15 minutes could result in a complete lack of water for hours. We are doing our best to get this situation resolved promptly.
The second difficulty is our financial unsustainability. Due to our flat-rate system, the Water Board’s revenues are roughly $5,700 per month. Our monthly energy bill - just to BEL - averages out to about $4,000 monthly, and this is without considering supplies, materials, new equipment, tank maintenance, system repairs, repair of pumps and other equipment, payroll, and all the other necessities of a functional water system. This is not sustainable.
To compound this difficulty, during the time when a new system was being built, the two companies contracted to build the new system constantly ran the pump to flush out the system, which left us with a $57,000 electric bill, now in arrears. The previous board, constrained by the flat-rate system, had no way to pay this bill and appealed to the previous government, who agreed to pay the bill but never did. The new government has declared that it is unable to meet the outstanding debt obligations of local governments, and therefore this bill will need to be paid (although we are exploring other avenues.) Since our current account balance is around $6,000, this will take awhile.
This points to the difficult reality that if we wish to have water available for everyone, all the time, we must move from a flat-rate system to a usage-based (metered billing) system. While it is true that large resorts use the majority of water, even a single household may waste more water than a hotel if they are on a flat rate, as they have no incentive to reduce their usage or fix their leaks. An affordable but metered billing system changes that.
We are aware that, especially in the Covid era, people cannot afford expensive water bills. But we believe that by encouraging households and businesses to use water responsibly, we can reduce overall consumption and bring our water system to efficient sustainability, while ensuring that water remains affordable for everyone.
We will begin reading the water meters next week, and over the next month we will be communicating with you about how to monitor your water usage, your new billing rates, and other changes we will be making. During May and June, we will issue you “test bills”, but we will begin officially charging by meter usage from July 1st. We will keep you posted as we continue to do our best to ensure that everyone has sufficient, high quality, potable water as quickly as possible.
We ask for your patience and thank you for your support!