Flying Tomato swaps her garden bibbers for some local politics, offering fine coverage of the big Clay Rural Water System meeting last night in Vermillion. Forty citizens in attendance at a rural water meeting? Yeah, I'd call that big.
Those good citizens came to town to discuss with the Clay Rural Water board Hyperion's request for water service for its proposed refinery near Elk Point. I've heard Hyperion wants 9 to 12 million gallons a day; Flying Tomato reports Hyperion may need up to 15 million gallons a day. Fourteen Clay Water customers spoke last night, and their opposition to granting Hyperion this big slurp was unanimous.
And in response to this public input, the Clay Rural Water board voted 5–3 in favor of "investigating further" whether they should take on Hyperion's water demand. Funny: when I've conducted a public meeting and heard unanimous opposition from constituents, I've voted to drop the issue right then and there, not "investigate further." And in the case of Clay Rural Water, the constituents are paying customers. What ever happened to business listening to consumer demand?
Oh yeah—I guess when the out-of-state gorilla in the room is asking to buy six to ten times as much product as everyone else combined, the loyal local customers find their voices just don't matter as much.
Flying Tomato does give the board some credit: she indicates the board at least recognizes the consensus among its current members. Let's hope the board looks beyond Hyperion's "airy promises of jobs, development, and MONEY" and looks at its water as something to protect for future generations. Saving water for future population growth is a much healthier, safer, more stable basis for economic growth than a single massive investment in a dying energy industry.
Update 15:45: Flying Tomato offers more on oil and water not mixing. She notes that Clay Rural Water was founded as a happy little non-profit, community-based project, there to provide a service for neighbors and members, not make money. And it's worked for 30 years. Say it softly (Flying Tomato does!): socialism....
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