Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

We hope Baker City officials learn something from the debacle over a pair of water tanks that serves fewer than a dozen homes at the city's hilly southwest corner.

Unfortunately, it seems that any wisdom gained will come too late to save the city the estimated $150,000 bill to fix the problem.

Here's what happened:

Back in 2003 local developer Steven Jones was working on the Scenic Vista subdivision.

Because some of the 15 home lots (there are currently nine homes) are higher on the hill than the city's drinking water reservoirs, Jones had to install the tanks to supply water to the subdivision.

According to an April 2003 letter from Dick Fleming, then the city's public works director, to Jones, the developer started putting in the tanks without submitted properly engineered construction plans to the city. The tanks were placed on an inadequate foundation built on soil that hadn't been compacted, Fleming wrote.

The city, at its own cost, tried to solidify the tanks. As of July 31, 2004, the city was legally responsible for their maintenance.

Now the tanks, which should have lasted at least 20 years, need to be replaced.

The lesson here is clear: The city shouldn't accept responsibility for any privately built infrastructure that hasn't been built to the city's standards, and at the developer's cost.