Water is not a partisan issue. Regardless of your political party, everyone relies on water resources that are too important to be determined in the political arena.
That is why we — a Republican and a Democrat — have united in opposition of two Greeley Home Rule Charter change initiatives related to water, 2G and 2H, appearing on this November’s ballot.
For decades, Greeley has delivered safe, quality and abundant water to its citizens, and it’s due to the vision, knowledge and strength of our forefathers’ persistence, such as W.D. Farr, who wrote 40 years ago: “Water is vital to man’s well-being and it is a necessity for a city to have ample supplies of drinking water, ample supplies to beautify the city, ample supplies for fire protection and ample supplies for growth. These goals cannot be achieved without long range plans. Neither can they be achieved in a political arena.”
That is why the way Greeley’s water department is overseen was written into the charter as it was. And there continues to be no place for politics in our water decision making; rather we need and value the professionals skilled in this area to guide these decisions.
We cannot even pretend to be experts on all aspects of our water, such as acquisition, purchase, leasing, infrastructure, surface and groundwater, treatment and disposal, to name just a few; but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have a basic understanding as residents of Greeley and surrounding areas.
One example of how complicated water issues are, as well as the regional implications surrounding water: Did you know that Greeley takes water from four river basins and has two water treatment plants?
Our Greeley Home Rule Charter is our guiding document for how the city operates in all aspects of providing water service. Since the charter was adopted in 1958, there has never been a change to Greeley’s Home Rule Charter initiated by citizens without a full vetting of the process through a charter commission appointed by the city council.
These initiatives were brought by a special interest group with motives inconsistent with the vision and safety of our city. The proposed changes are unnecessary, risky and very dangerous to our entire water legacy and future of Greeley.
Additionally, these initiatives are restrictive and limiting to nearly all water operations, not to mention the dramatic increase in the cost we will pay for our water, forever. The changes will also increase the water costs for multiple other communities that Greeley treats water for — thousands of people who didn’t have a vote on the matter.
We believe any changes to our Greeley Home Rule charter must be credible, fact-based and prove necessary for the greater good of the city. These ballot initiatives do none of these things.
The decisions about the future of Greeley’s water resources should remain in the hands of those with the most knowledge to make them, such as the Water and Sewer Board, the city’s professional staff and outside consultants as needed.
As available water supplies dwindle in our state, and as drought grips the Western United States — if these ballot initiatives pass — Greeley becomes the only city in Colorado to administer water supply decisions in such a risky and dangerous way, slowing down decisions, jeopardizing the city’s ability to acquire water cost-effectively and efficiently, and placing Greeley at a serious competitive disadvantage with other cities.
Therefore, we stand together in strong opposition to ballot questions 2G and 2H. We will vote NO and urge you to join us and vote NO!
Sherrie Peif is a fourth generation Greeley native and an investigative reporter for Complete Colorado. Debbie Pilch is a longtime Greeley resident and former Greeley City councilwoman. A version of this article originally appeared in the Greeley Tribune.
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