Deputy Public Works Director for Utilities for the City of Missoula Dennis Bowman appeared on KGVO’s Talk Back program along with Director of Communications Gunny Merriam.

As part of the monthly ‘City Talk’ feature, Bowman provided information about Missoula Water and answered questions on the phone and via Facebook about the utility for which he was worked for over 20 years, first for Mountain Water Company and for the last two years as the municipally owned Missoula Water.

Asked about how the city is paying for the legal costs of the court case that brought the utility into city ownership, Bowman said no Missoula tax money is being used to pay those expenses.

“The water bill you’re paying pays for everything,” said Bowman. “It pays for all the maintenance, it covers our debt service for the bond and it also covers all the capital improvements. Right now at our current rates we’re covering all that. I get asked all the time, we’re two years into this low rate, when are you going to raise rates? We can do everything we’re dong right now with the revenue we have coming in.”

Bowman emphasized that the water company has not raised its rates for the last eight years, since 2011.

“Our current rates are from 2011,” he said. “Nobody that has ever owned this water system to my knowledge has even been able to hold those rates that long, because previous owners would go for rate increases every two years. The previous owners right now that still own a water system in California, they get a rate increase every year.”

Bowman emphasized that the city owns all aspects of the water system, however, the property owner is responsible for ant repairs or replacement of the service line from the residence to the water main and there are loan programs available to assist in financing any needed repairs. In addition, there will soon be a program to purchase an inexpensive warranty protecting the water line in case it needs to be replaced.

One interesting topic surfaced while Bowman was in the studio about the pending removal of the Rattlesnake dam that was originally built in 1901, and how its removal may enhance the habitat for bull trout.

“We’re working with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the effluence of some of the wilderness dams,” he said. “Basically, we’re hoping that by releasing some of the water out of the wilderness dams, that the cold water from the bottom of the lake will drop the temperature of the water, increase the flow and allow the bull trout to go to the very top of the wilderness area.”

Bowman said anyone with questions about their water service should visit their website, or call Missoula Water at 552-6700.

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