Herlong Utiities Inc. hopes to go public
General Manager Pat Williams said everyone involved in the project is really excited about the chance for the agency to take on the new role, and continue its plans for expansion.
“Right now, we provide water and wastewater services just to the federal prison in Herlong,” Williams said. “We have the intention and plan to replace the water infrastructure in the Herlong town center over the next several months, among other goals for the community.”
Williams plans for the utility to build the infrastructure through a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan. While Williams said the loan isn’t 100 percent approved yet, it would total $4 million in infrastructure loans, with an additional $1 million in grant funds as well.
Williams said the goal for the increase in infrastructure is ultimately to provide the community of Herlong and the Sierra Army Depot with a safer supply of drinking water than the base already has. He said the current water supply for Herlong has been tested to have a high concentration of the element manganese. Williams said water with a high enough concentration of manganese can act as a neurotoxin to people, can stain buildings black, and is generally gritty and bad tasting.
“Our water doesn’t have any issues with manganese,” Williams said. “It’s also a viable source as far as water rationing or drought conditions. This summer, (SIAD) had mandatory conservation on irrigation because of their lack of a sufficient supply of water. Once we connect to them, that won’t be an issue anymore.”
Flores said the utility board is currently in the process of negotiating a contract with SIAD to provide water in a bulk, wholesale agreement. The utility is currently talking with the Susanville Indian Rancheria to provide water for tribal members living on land given to the rancheria during the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process.
The West Patton Village Community Service District provided $50,000 in startup funds for the utility’s expansion, but Flores said the district has since pulled out of the agreement for unknown reasons. Flores said he will talk more with the WPVCSD as the utility begins expansion.
Williams said the utility would monitor water usage for all of its regular customers via water meters unless HUI provides its water wholesale, such as it does with SIAD. The utility also is negotiating to provide water to local school districts, in Herlong, such as Fort Sage Unified School District, which currently gets its water from SIAD.
“The project scope has changed dramatically from two years ago,” Williams said. “The initial project was infeasible for the community, so we’ve downsized and made it a more realistic project. We’ve brought costs down dramatically. The initial cost to the customers per month would have been $125, whereas now will be able to provide water for $42 to $66 a month, based on much water is consumed.”
Flores said if everything goes according to plan, the utility will be upgrading the infrastructure by December of this year. Flores said eventually the expansion of the system will hook HUI into the community of Herlong.
“We want to be a public utility,” said. “We are more than willing to be as open as possible with anyone who wants to know how we run the business. We have nothing to hide. Pat Williams has done an outstanding job ever since he was brought in six months ago. We’re at the point now where we are just trying to assist all of the other agencies in Herlong to help jumpstart the growth in the community. We’re trying to do this at a reasonable rate while providing the lowest cost possible.”
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