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Front Page » April 22, 2008 » Local News » PRWID Inches Toward Decision on Pinnacle Water
Published 2,723 days ago

PRWID Inches Toward Decision on Pinnacle Water

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Sun Advocate reporter

The Price River provides the water used in Carbon County that is managed by the Price River Water Improvement District.

The Price River Water Improvement District Board is moving cautiously toward a decision on whether to take over the Pinnacle/John Paul Water Company.

At Tuesday's PRWID meeting, the proposal for assuming the 30-year-old water company was once again scrutinized by boardmembers. The request first aired at a March 4 meeting and was discussed in detail, members of Pinnacle/John Paul were tasked with gathering additional information on the system for review at a later meeting.

They returned Tuesday with the required fire flow testsresults. And the tests on the system's hydrants were apparently completed just in time to make the 7 p.m. meeting.

"Did the fire marshal have a chance to look the results?" asked boardmember Richard Tatton asked.

Rick Shiner, who served as spokesman for Pinnacle/John Paul at the meeting, said the results had not been reviewed by Price Fire Chief Paul Bedont.

Tatton then asked Shiner what upgrades had been done to the three-decade-old infrastructure and if the company was holding any surplus funds.

Shiner pointed out that nothing had needed to be done to the system to date and responded that the amount of money remaining would just about cover the cost of installing new radio read meters.

"We need to upgrade meters, which is about $6,500, and we had about $9,000 in savings. But that was before one of the fire hydrants went out," he said.

Boardmembers learned that in the process of testing the hydrants for fire flow pressure a major problem surfaced with one of them that had to be fixed.

Despite the one mishap it did appear that all but one of Pinnacle/John Paul's hydrants met the minimum flow requirements of 500 gallons per minute and the pressure readings ranged from 104 PSI (pounds per square inch) to 84 PSI the codes require 20 PSI. Fire flow is described as the amount of water necessary to fight a fire for a particular building.

Palmer did acknowledge that flow levels for the one hydrant wouldn't likely meet all the requirements but assured the board that it wouldn't degrade the overall functioning of the system.

South Price resident Robert Welch, whose home is served by Pinnacle/John Paul questioned whether there weren't other parts of the county that also had problems meeting the requirements but that are under PRWID.

"In some of the outlying areas there are these multimillion dollar homes that with real fire flow problems," he said. "So, if one person should to meet all the requirements then the whole county should."

PRWID maintenance supervisor Clay Wright agreed that there were some areas that didn't meet the requirements, but said that most of them did.

One of the sticking points in reaching a comfort level for the board appears to be size of approximately 50 percent of the lines.

Pinnacle/John Paul's pipes range from four inches to six inches. The regulations for new development is eight inches.

While fire flow and pipe size were main points, the April 9 discussion eventually evolved much like the one on March 4. It started out about Pinnacle/John Paul specifically but soon encompassed overall PRWID policy concerning small water companies.

According to Phil Palmer, the district's manager, PRWID has assumed about 25 smaller water systems and to date and there wasn't much difference between them and Pinnacle/John Paul.

"We haven't had much problem with any of the lines because they are PVC pipe if there is a problem it's usually with the service connections," he said.

There appears to be a distinct division in the thinking of the boardmembers between trying to be sure that, with the take over, PRWID doesn't acquire additional financial troubles versus applying an equitable policy towards all small water companies.

Tatton and boardmember Karl Houskeeper pursued answers and information that appeared to be to alleviate concerns that the district may be taking on any inherent problems that would tax it financially in the future..

"What is the life of a line like this?" Houskeeper asked. "My concern is what if it needs repairs once we have taken it over."

On the other hand Boardmember Steve Rigby remarked that this move wouldn't be out of character for the district.

"This isn't any different from any of the other 25 (water companies) we have taken over," he said.

Boardmember Keith Cox argued that Pinnacle/John Paul be treated as all others have been in the past.

"The district has always helped out other entities. There needs to be some semblance of fairness," he said.

Stating his case earlier in the discussion, Cox pointed out that PRWID receives tax revenues from everyone in the county and, in essence, the residents served by Pinnacle/John Paul have already been supporting the district.

"We receive revenues two ways through fees and property taxes," said Cox. "So tax wise these residents have been paying an equal share whether they received services or not."

Houskeeper did not seemed especially swayed by that argument.

"The onus is on us (PRWID) that we don't take on further financial obligations, even if they are paying taxes," said Houskeeper.

What finally appeared to narrow the chasm was the point voiced by Wright that, whatever decision is made by the board, the water improvement district is still facing a financial obligation in regards to Pinnacle/John Paul.

The vault connected to the system containing the district's equipment is failing.

Wright presented three financial scenarios for repairing it.

The $15,000 or $6,000 solutions would be if the Pinnacle/John Paul stayed independent and the $1,800 one was if the district assumed the company.

Once the board learned that the district would be shelling out money regardless of their final decision, the discussion moved to a conclusion.

Tatton moved to table the final decision to the May 6 meeting. In the interim Pinnacle/John Paul was to resubmit the letter formally requesting the action and that preliminary agreements drawn up by both parties' legal counsel, Nick Sampinos, be reworked to alleviate many of the water improvement district's concerns.

The PRWID board meets at 7 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of the month at 265 South Fairgrounds Road.

For more information Carbon County residents may call Jeffrey Richens at 637-6350.

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