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Front Page » July 8, 2004 » Local News » PRWID Reports Average Demand on Water System
Published 3,672 days ago

PRWID Reports Average Demand on Water System


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor

A cooler than normal June would appear to mean water use would be down. But according to officials at the Price River Water District, use by residents on the PRWID system has been about average.

"The figures tell us that what we have used since April also predict the numbers will be similar for July, August and September," pointed out PRWID manager Phil Palmer told the board.

The use during the upcoming months is not only important because of the actual physical shortage of water in the Carbon County area, but because the Price River Water Users Association (PRWUA) has reported to the district that the members will only be receiving 65 percent of their regular allotment from Scofield Reservoir for the year.

PRWID provides water service to the majority of of tjhe residents in the non-incorporated areas of the county.

In addition, PRWID supplies Wellington with culinary water, helps Price in times of heavy use in the city and has been selling water to Helper during the current year because of problems with the town's springs.

"At present, we have another 3,300 acre feet of water in the reservoir available to us," explained Palmer. "We project that, by the time the year is over, we will have used about 1,995 acre feet of that. That gives us a 1,300 acre foot cushion with which to work for this year."

In April, the PRWID water plant in Price Canyon supplied 120.4 acre feet to the area. In May, the figure was 215.42 acre feet and, in June, the amount jumped up to 312.74 acre feet.

During the three-month period, the district supplied Helper with slightly more than 19 million gallons of treated water or about four-tenths of a share per day and Price with about 12.5 million.

On the heals of the PRWID information, the board looked at a proposal by Dino Kiahtipes to trade water shares from this year to the next.

"While your delivery for water is 65 percent, ours for our property through the canal will actually work out to be around 45 percent," said Kiahtipes. "What I would like to do, since you have a cushion of water for this year, is to make a trade. I would like to use 300 of your shares of water this year in trade for 300 of our shares next year."

In the event the drought continues or worsens, Kiahtipes indicated that the deliverable water to his property next year may only be 25 percent or 30 percent of normal.

The reason for Kiahtipes citing lower figures than PRWID officials is that the district not only takes its supply out of the river higher up the stream, but there is a loss when water is transported by canal and ditch to agricultural users.

"In that case, we could do very little with that. So in fact, we wouldn't even be using it next year," said Kiahtipes. "So the water for this year would help us a great deal. And if the drought continues, that would help you next year."

Palmer stated that the proposal Kiahtipes made did not fit in with the board's adopted water leasing procedures. But the PRWID manager indicated that he did not oppose the proposal if the board decided it was a good idea.

"In fact, I see it as kind of an insurance policy for next year if we need it," said Palmer.

Any water the district would get from Kiahtipes next year would be more valuable because it would be removed from higher in the drainage, noted assistant PRWID manager Jeff Richens.

The proposed agreement would have to be reviewed by legal counsel, pointed out board secretary Guido Rachiele.

In addition, the officials indicated that PRWUA would have to approve the agreement if the board decided to proceed with the proposed plan.

Following a public discussion regarding the use of the water should the drought end and addressing several questions to make sure that the district could spare the 300 shares in question, the board members voted to support the proposal, subject to counsel review and approval by the PRWUA.

The PRWID advisory board members also discussed the problem of customers not paying their water bills in a timely manner.

During the last meeting of PRWID on June 15, there had been some informal discussions about the district possibly taking over the Wellington culinary water system .

The PRWID board members had discussed rising costs and how it related to the harder time everyone was having in staying solvent.

"Since there are rising costs going on for everyone, I think I would like to know if we have any of our customers that owe us large amounts of money?" asked board member Tom Matthews.

Richens indicated that the largest amount of money owed to the district was connected with Wellington city.

"At present, they owe us about $90,000 - which puts them about 100 days behind," said the assistant PRWID manager.

Matthews indicated that he had heard the amount owing was $150,000. But Richens explained that Wellington had been in arrears that much at one time, but recently brought it to the present level.

"We judge accounts by the number of days they are behind more than we do by the money total that is owed," said Richens. "Retail customers are late when they are 30 days behind. Wholesale customers, like Wellington, are late when they get over 60 days behind. Wholesalers get a lot more time because they have to collect from others to pay their accounts."

Normally Wellington rings up charges of about $30,000 a month, so where the city is presently is not totally unreasonable, added Richens.

On Wednesday, Wellington city recorder Ken Powell indicated that there had been some overbilling problems at one time involving PRWID. But Powell said the amount of money reported as owed by Wellington at the board meeting Tuesday sounded "about right."

How the city will make up the deficit remains undecided.

But Richens mentioned there had been talk of a rate increase in Wellington to help the town catch up. He said the district was assessing Wellington the normal interest and penalties that normally apply to all late payments.

Due to steadily rising costs, Palmer pointed out that it is becoming more and more difficult for public entities to operate within budgets.

"All our chemicals for water treatment have gone up," said the PRWID manager. "In fact, what has really increased is the delivery for many things. Some items delivery surcharges have gone up 100 percent."

Board members then discussed ways to keep costs down within PRWID.

"When we see some of our customers struggling with the increased cost of doing business, it is frustrating," stated PRWID board member Keith Cox. "Yet we have actually been able to weather most of the increases. I worry, however, that sometimes that can come back to haunt you. But for now, we are healthy."

But Matthews pointed out that PRWID needed to be careful to not let other agencies' financial distress impact the water improvement district.


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