The water focus group has a proposal to bring together the city and Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District.
At Tuesday's City Council meeting, City Manager Paul Hughes asked the council if it wanted to hold a special meeting in May with the focus group and Mount Werner Water District so the group can give an update.
The water focus group includes three members appointed by the City Council, five from the Mount Werner Water District including its manager, Bob Stoddard, and Hughes.
The water focus group, which has been meeting since January, was formed after voters turned down the water authority agreement in November. One of the group's tasks was to look at why the vote failed and what to do to move forward with joining the two entities.
Bill Martin, a former City Council president, also is a member of the focus group. He said the group wants to re-examine the Steamboat Water partnership that was in place between 1996 and 2000.
Martin said another idea is to form an advisory group, which would have fewer powers than a water authority board but be able to advise on technical, long-range planning and water and sewer integration with the comprehensive plan.
Stoddard said a revised version of the Steamboat Water partnership is the group's leading option.
"That is the preferred approach at this point," he said.
From 1996 to 2000, the city and Water District had what was termed a living arrangement, with offices housed together above the Fish Creek Filtration Plant.
Stoddard admits there were problems with that arrangement, and the water focus group discussed the pros and cons of the four-year merger and how to work out the problems from it.
Stoddard said the group met about five times and spent the first few meetings discussing how the water and wastewater systems worked and explaining water rights and ownership of the water system.
The group then talked about what options are available to create the efficiencies that were the aim of the 2002 water agreement shot down by voters.
Those who supported the water authority last year said consolidation could mean a cost savings by sharing office space, legal fees, utilities and equipment.
Opponents of the 2002 water agreement said it perpetuated unequal rates between the city and Mount Werner Water District and gave too much authority and not enough accountability to the appointed water board.
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