“The city of Blaine has interconnections with many cities, and those are all filed with permits to Minnesota DNR and the thing is those are all metered interconnections,” Sanders told North Metro TV News. That means Blaine knows exactly how much water the other cities are using from Blaine’s system.
“The (interconnection) with the city of Lexington is not a metered connection,” he said.
According to leaders in both cities, Blaine and Lexington entered into an agreement in 1977 to use an interconnected water system. Lexington’s smaller well would only be used in the summer months, when demand for service is higher. Now that Blaine has spent millions of dollars to upgrade its water and treatment facilities, it wants Lexington to be metered, as well. Blaine Public Works Director Jon Haukaas explained that the system is set up in such a way that Lexington’s water flows directly into Blaine’s main pipe, and straight to customers, and therefore isn’t treated to the standard that the rest of Blaine’s water is.
This has prompted Blaine city leaders to reach out to Lexington leaders in the last couple of years to try to find new solutions for what the larger city feels is an outdated arrangement.
“What we’re asking for is a metering and a separation–not a disconnection–but a metering and a separation so that we can control what water goes into Lexington,” said Sanders. “If they need water, we’re happy to help supply them and work out an arrangement for that, but at the end of the day, because of the quality of Lexington’s water, we do not want that water coming back into the city of Blaine.”
Lexington City Attorney Kurt Glaser sees the timeline–and the options–as having played out much differently. He said City of Blaine workers came into Lexington and began accessing the water main through one of the streets–before city staff had to get Centennial Lakes Police involved to stop them.
“They tried to shut off valves between the two cities,” said Glaser. “They closed down the interconnects to a very small number of interconnects.”
Glaser said many residents–including Mayor Mike Murphy–immediately experienced drastically lower water pressure. It’s the city’s belief that Blaine intends to cut off Lexington from water service. Haukaas, in Blaine, said crews were simply making repairs to valves on a pipe that the city owns.
“They shut down at least five interconnects,” said Glaser. “Based on the evidence that’s available, they actually turned off the valves. That’s not a metering project. That’s a disconnection.”
Glaser said Lexington leaders would need at least three years to make changes to be able to handle its own water service, and that Blaine simply is not willing to provide that much lead time.
“Blaine has always said they want to talk about nothing less than disconnecting the system,” he said. “Lexington doesn’t want to have that discussion. We have asked repeatedly and in writing for more time, a sufficient amount of time, to do reasonable planning to work through this situation. That kind of planning for infrastructure takes years.”
Blaine leaders say Lexington counterparts simply won’t respond to any entreaty to have any face-to-face discussions.
“We don’t want to be divisive,” said Sanders. “We would like to be good neighbors. We would like to work toward a solution that’s beneficial to the city of Lexington as well.”
Glaser said Lexington will continue to research possible regional water partnerships and will attempt to secure money as part of President Biden’s infrastructure bill to make adjustments and try to find a way to provide its own water.