Independence People – Angry with Government for Plumbing Surprise

Outside the Inyo Board room last night, the full moon light flooded the sky. Inside, citizen unrest filled the room.

A few days earlier, Inyo Public Works had dropped fliers at homes to say that the switch over to the new big water reservoir tanks would happen next week and that damagingly high water pressures might result. Officials said citizens might want to install water line regulators.

The original water reservoir was destroyed in the Inyo Complex fire and county staff worked to build a new one with insurance money. That was the only good news for residents.

For the crowd of nearly 100 residents of the small town, the bad news was the unpleasant surprise from the County. Many said they could not afford the $500 to $600 for regulators with a bad economy and property tax bills due next month. Others complained that county engineers should have designed the system more carefully to control water pressure.

Doug Wilson, Interim Public Works Director for Inyo, told the crowd that he was not “overly aware” of the water system in Independence. He said the tanks were ready to go on line and discussions in the office led to the revelation that water pressure could go up 10 psi. Wilson said existing water pressures are already fairly high.

Citizens wanted to know why the county had failed to consider the residents until the last minute, leaving them with virtually no time to hire plumbers and install regulators.

Citizens asked for an outside consultant to assess the system. They asked for more time to analyze the issue and hire plumbers, if needed. Local plumbers at the meeting said it could take 90 to 120 days for the citizens to hire plumbers and get the job done.

Supervisor Jim Bilyeu said he would try to get this item on next Tuesday’s Board agenda. Citizens asked for more time, financial help and a better analysis of the system.

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