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Front Page » February 23, 2006 » Local News » PRWID Reviews Pending Matters
Published 3,514 days ago

PRWID Reviews Pending Matters

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Sun Advocate reporter

The Price River Water Improvement District met Feb. 21 and revisited several ongoing issues.

Items on the agenda included the formal adoption of a water loss standard, service agreements with Helper and Wellington cities, the winter project for livestock watering, an asphalt restoration in Carbonville and the purchase of district equipment.

The first item of business was the approval of a letter of support to Carbon County. The letter formally thanked the county commissioners for contributing almost $25 thousand to the asphalt restoration project in Carbonville.

PRWID did trench work in the area last summer and was required to patch the disturbed areas of the roadways.

The asphalt-patching job, by mutual consent between PRWID and the county, became a bigger job than expected and more than the water district had planned for.

Since PRWID believed that laying asphalt beyond the trench repair area constituted a betterment of the road to the advantage of the county, they asked the county to help with the costs.

The county commissioners agreed to pay $25,000. The letter of support was a way to thank the commissioners for the county's help with the project.

The board then passed Resolution 2006-2, a municipal wastewater planning program.

Assistant PRWID manager, Jeff Richens, told the board that the document is required annually by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

The resolution is a plan and report dealing with the status of the wastewater treatment and collection system.

The document outlines the program and lists any problems or violations that occurred in the previous year as well as steps that were taken to fix any problems.

Richens said the plan is an ongoing document that is reviewed and adopted annually by the board.

The purpose being to inform the board of any problems and have members signify that they are aware whether the water district is living up to the terms of the discharge permits.

Richens indicated that there were no violations to report in 2005.

Copies of the document were given to the board members, who passed the resolution adopting the wastewater plan.

Attention then turned to the ongoing matter of adopting a formal water loss standard for the district. For the past 30 years, the water district has used a 30% loss standard in the delivery of water. For each share of Scofield water pledged by a customer, the district has expected to deliver about 70%. The remaining 30% is written of as lost in the treatment and distribution system.

Recent draft agreements with both Wellington city and the Carbon Canal Company have caused some to question the 30% water loss standard. The item has been debated since early January when a resolution to adopt the 30% standard as official policy was voted down. At that earlier meeting, PRWID board members could not agree to adopt the 30% standard as a matter of policy. The issue has generated much debate and study since.

At the February 21 meeting, information from the American Water Works Association and information gathered by contractor Creamer and Noble on delivery loss standards was reviewed. Staff also presented a water loss report of the PRWID system covering the years 2002 through 2005.

The internal report showed that actual water delivery loss through the PRWID system for the four years studied averaged about 18%, with a high of 22.64% in 2005, and a low of 12.58% in 2003. The external documents from AWWA and Creamer and Noble showed about the same 17 to 18% loss rate for other systems.

The numbers prompted a debate about how the 30% loss rate was determined in the first place, why it has been in place as district policy for so long, and whether it should be changed or not.

PRWID manager, Phil Palmer, told the board that he was not aware of how or why the district had adopted the 30% standard back in 1978, but the policy has served the district well for a long time without any problems. He said that no formal, industry-wide water loss standard exists anywhere, and each water system deals with the issue in their own way. He reminded the board of the variability's encountered in the PRWID system, and how one year's conditions might vary drastically from the previous year. He maintained that it is impossible to set a single standard that takes into account every eventuality and covers every situation.

There followed a lengthy discussion of the issue. Since the water loss percentage changes every year, board members found it difficult to agree on a standard. The general feeling seemed to be that 30% was too high, but a lower standard might commit the district to unreasonable obligations sometime in the future. The debate centered on the need for the water district to deduct the actual loss, and also to build a "pad" into the calculation to anticipate worse case scenarios and plan for lean water years. Some board members questioned the need to set a water loss standard as official policy at all.

Board chairman, Keith Cox, said that the water district currently has a long-held practice of deducting a 30% loss standard, but no resolution was ever passed adopting that standard as official policy. Recent drafts of contractual agreements have made the practice an issue. Customers like Wellington city and Carbon Canal Co. want to know how many gallons they can expect from water shares surrendered to the district.

Palmer and Richens explained that the water loss standard was never intended to be an exact unit of measure, and that the district can never guarantee a specific number of gallons per share. Palmer said that in a drought year, if water delivery is cut to 60% of normal, the 30% loss rate applies to the 60% of water available.

Palmer said he wanted everyone to understand that the water district can never guarantee a certain percentage of delivery on a water share, just as they can never predict the water rate loss. He maintained that annual snow pack, water level of the reservoir, river conditions, and internal conditions withing the water district itself are always changing and nothing is for sure or ever remains the same.

Board members debated the issue for some time, and then Palmer told the board that he had a copy of a 2002 water management study that all board members should read. He said that many of the issues being debated were covered by the report, and he suggested that the board not vote on the water loss standard until board members have had a chance to read and study the report.

The board then voted to table the matter for another meeting when board members have had time to read and study the report.

In other matters of business, the board tabled the purchase of new district equipment pending further study and possible lease options. They agreed to send 3 district employees to a Water treatment conference in Price, to be held in March, and declined a request to reimburse a Spring Glen resident for sewer bills paid for a vacant house where water and sewer services had been left connected.

Palmer and Richens then gave the board an update on the winter water livestock watering project. They reported that the system lacks only about 30 connections from being completed and one issue of right of way has yet to be settled.

The board was told that R.D. Campbell, a landowner south of Wellington, had requested that a private 2-inch water line be abandoned and homeowners allowed to connect to an 8-inch district line nearby. The boar approved the measure incumbent upon the citizens assuming all costs incurred.

In a manager's report, Palmer addressed the ongoing Scofield spillway project and the low levels of reservoir water expected for the coming year. He and Helper city mayor, Mike Dalpaz, who is also a PRWID board member, discussed the Helper bypass project by the Utah Department of Transportation and the need to re-route lines and infrastructure to accommodate the project.

The board briefly took up the ongoing draft of service agreements with both Helper and Wellington cities, but tabled both pending review and approval by the two city councils.

Wellington mayor and PRWID board member, Karl Houskeeper, told the board that Wellington would not act on the service agreement until the PRWID board had agreed to set a formal water loss standard. He explained that the water loss rate was a major issue with the Wellington city council, and the city would postpone the matter indefinitely until the PRWID board acted.

The board then reviewed a proposal to assume control of the water system of the eagle cliff subdivision in Carbonville. Certain facts and figures were discussed and several questions asked of staff members. In the end, the item was tabled for a future meeting.

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