The water bill for the Cherokee Mental Health Institute that arrived April 17 came as quite a shock. Between the charge for water and the charge for sewer the total cost came to $45,814 and, since a line break was not immediately repaired after the billing period ending April 3, there may be another $20,000 or so on the nest month's bill.
Tom Deiker, superintendent of MHI, spoke to the Cherokee City Council at the Tuesday meeting about the situation. Rick Forkenbrock, director of support services at MHI, and Tony Morris, business manager at MHI, were also present at the council meeting.
The reason that about a million gallons of leaked water went unnoticed is that there was also a ruptured sanitary sewer line that allowed all the groundwater to drain.
Deiker said that there is no way for MHI employees to take readings of water meters. He said all that is under lock and key control of the city. He referred to an agreement signed many years ago in which the city agreed to inform the MHI of any problems with the water system.
Deiker also referred to an agreement with the city regarding the percentage of the water charge to be charged to the MHI for sewer service. He said that percentage was changed without notice from the city.
One piece of good news Deiker gave at the council meeting, was that the state has approved a 1.4 million upgrade of the water and sewer service at the MHI grounds.
MHI and city officials will continue discussions about possible adjustment of the water and sewer bill.