For those folks who saw only the part about city of Waco water rates going up Jan. 1, Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver’s accompanying explanation in a New Year’s Day column about the massive overhauling and replacing of city infrastructure is critical to understanding what exactly we’re all funding: “Many of the structures, pipes and mechanical pumps that are vital to our way of life are more than 100 years old and struggling to meet 21st-century demands. To keep up with the region’s growth, these systems need to be replaced and brought up to modern standards.”
Arguments about the roles of city government come and go, but almost all agree when it comes to the importance of maintaining streets and roads as well as water and wastewater systems. And if a rise in the rates is cause for civic outrage, consider for a moment what happens when your street is blocked off because a water main breaks and the water pressure to your home suddenly drops. If you’re in a household like ours, you’re talking crisis.
Our city’s 10-year capital improvements program, “Building Waco,” includes $131 million in water projects and $139 million in wastewater projects. One phase will replace a century-old ground-storage tank and pump station with smaller tanks to provide better system efficiency and water quality. And several waterlines in the downtown area are more than 60 years old and must be completely replaced. The list, alas, goes on.
All this is far more important than how each of us is impacted in our individual home and neighborhood. By continuing to neglect serious infrastructure needs — including another $50 million in street work — we effectively pass the buck to another generation to address and probably at even greater cost. That includes not only actual repair and replacement costs but lost potential in terms of making our city appealing and profitable. We salute city leaders’ move to action.