Local water company's future remains in limbo
The long discussed issue of whether the Price River Water Improvement District will take over Pinnacle/John Paul Water Company has hit a wall and the next move is being left to the company's members.
The item was on the PRWID agenda for the fourth time Tuesday after first appearing at the March 4 meeting and was again tabled.
No one from the water company was present at the May 20 meeting to hear the short discussion on the proposal and Jeffrey Richens, district manager, said he had called the Pinnacle/John Paul representatives and they had not returned his call.
"I think the two big sticking points are not limiting the connections to 34 and also if it's in the best interest to PRWID to upgrade the system if we take it over and impose fees on the residents," said Richens. "I am not sure if those will kill the deal."
Members of the water company sent a letter asking the district to absorb the 30-year-old system earlier this year.
At the March 4 meeting, a tentative agreement for the deal was put on the table by Nick Sampinos, the attorney who was representing both PRWID and Pinnacle.
However, it was far from a done deal.
The proposal sparked repeated rounds of discussion and requests for additional information and testing on the system.
During the past two months, the water pressure to the subdivision's fire hydrants have all been tested and have been found to meet minimum requirements for the county.
However, a letter from Price Fire Chief Paul Bedont concerning the pressure and flow tests brought up additional questions.
In his letter, Bedont expressed concerns about the distance some of the 25 homes were from the hydrants.
Boardmember Karl Houskeeper cautioned that if Bedont's comments could be taken as a recommendation that it may be problematic for the district to not follow them.
"Anytime you get a recommendation and don't follow it from agencies like the fire department or UDOT, you face a lot of liability," he said at the May 6 PRWID board meeting.
At the core of much discussion has been the size of the lines in the system which serve the homes in the area between 500 West and 1625 South. The members of the water company point out that the system's 4-inch and 6-inch lines met all standards when installed in 1978.
In addition boardmember Keith Cox say that the district has absorbed at least 25 other independent water companies in the past 30 years and that many of them had infrastructure that didn't meet the current code of 8-inch lines.
At the May 6 meeting Richens told the board that his estimates for bringing the system up to code would run close to $100,000.
While the focus had been on the possible inherent problems and financial risks of taking over the older system, the discussion took a turn when Pinnacle representatives were told that their plan of no more than 34 residences in their subdivision might not hold if the district became the water provider. Richens said that he didn't think PRWID could enforce the growth limit. Tuesday he expounded on the issue stating that for the district it would make sense to open the area up for more development.
"It would be in the best interest of the district to have additional revenues," he said.
In addition, boardmembers learned that the district would be shelling out some money for Pinnacle/John Paul no matter the final decision. The vault containing the pressure release valve for the system is in need of upgrades.
PRWID Maintenance Supervisor Clay Wright presented three price tags for the work, $15,000, $6,000 and $1,800. The lowest cost was contingent upon the district taking over the company.
Tuesday the pressure release valve (PRV) was again on the table. Boardmember Mike Dalpiaz asked for clarification on what was going on with the equipment.
"The PRV has to be replaced because of its age," said Richens.
He said that Wright had purchased the materials but the repairs were on hold pending the final decision of the water company. Dalpiaz queried Richens further on why it had to be done.
"Are we not meeting our obligation to Pinnacle in providing the water?" he asked.
Richens said that the issue of the valve is not about too little pressure but to ensure that the system is not getting too much water at once.
Dalpiaz argued that Pinnacle/John Paul is an independent water company making a profit and should be responsible for regulating their own water pressure.
However, that concept didn't seem to set well with other boardmembers. "If we are supplying too much pressure and blow one of their water lines aren't we responsible?" Boardmember Steve Rigby asked.
Boardmember Keith Cox agreed. "For 40 years PRWID has been providing Spring Glen with water and it is our understanding that they have to give it to us in a certain amount of pressure delivery in a way that is obviously manageable," he said.
No decision was reached on the repair of the vault and the item was tabled until a representative of Pinnacle/John Paul contacts the district.