Wellington Water Issues Before PRWID Board Again
The board of the Price River Water Improvement District met Tuesday afternoon and again took up the issue of water service agreements.
Board member Karl Houskeeper presented the board with two letters from Wellington city. One letter was a copy of a request sent to the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water Rights, requesting the allocation of 315 Wellington city water shares from Scofield reservoir to PRWID to meet Wellington's culinary water commitment.
The second letter was a cover letter advising PRWID of Wellington's intent. The first letter also directed that the remainder of Wellington's water shares be delivered to the Wellington canal to be used for secondary water purposes.
Houskeeper reminded the board of an agreement that had been reached at the last PRWID meeting. The agreement was to allow both parties to honor conditions stipulated in a draft agreement of the Wellington city water service agreement for this year.
Wellington city and PRWID have yet to finalize a formal water service agreement.
Houskeeper said that the Wellington city council had voted to work under conditions of the draft agreement for this year. He reminded the board that a formal motion to accept the temporary water service agreement was needed.
The board debated the issue for some time.
Board member Tom Matthews said that in his opinion, allowing Wellington to work from a temporary agreement might be detrimental to ever securing a final agreement.
It was also brought up that Wellington has 334 culinary water hook-ups but was offering only 315 shares of water to PRWID.
PRWID manager Phil Palmer told the board that the 315 shares was a three-year average of what Wellington had committed to the district in the past.
PRWID attorney, Nick Sampinos, told the board that in his opinion, the temporary agreement was a step in the right direction.
He also pointed out that Wellington has a new attorney who is still coming up to speed on all of the past water issues. He suggested that Wellington was acting in good faith and he was hopeful that a final water service agreement could be reached between the two parties before the end of the year.
Houskeeper told the board that he expected continued dialog between Wellington and PRWID in the near future.
Board Chairman Keith Cox said that he saw no problems with accepting the temporary agreement. He too felt it was a step in the right direction.
Board member Richard Tatton said that his concern was in doing what was in the best interests of the district.
As board members prepared to vote on the issue, Houskeeper, who serves as Wellington mayor, abstained from voting.
The vote was split, two to two, and the motion died. Board members Cox and Mike Dalpiaz voted for, while Matthews and Tatton voted against accepting the temporary water agreement.
The question of what kind of water service agreement will exist between Wellington and PRWID was left unresolved as the meeting went on to other issues.
In an unrelated matter, Darlene Pennington appeared before the board with a request to deed a four inch waterline in the north Coal Creek area to the district.
PRWID manager Palmer gave a brief history and overview of the request, stating that an original draft of the transfer had been drawn up in 2001 but never finalized.
Palmer said that in 1996, Pennington had extended a four inch PRWID water line across Bureau of Land Management land to her property. She did so at her own cost of approximately $28,000, expecting to recover some of the expense as other homeowners in the area hooked up to the extended line.
Pennington left the area in 2001 and offered to deed the private line to the district with the stipulation that she be allowed to recover half of her original $28,000 cost as future hook-ups were added to the line. She requested that a $2,000 fee be attached to any new water hookups on the line to be paid to her until 50 percent of her original cost has been recovered.
Palmer told the board that the agreement is similar to other agreements the district has made with landowners in the county who use their own initiative and funds to extend water lines to previously non-serviced areas. He said he was unsure why the agreement was never finalized and signed in 2001.
The board discussed the proposal at length. Sampinos told the board that an updated version of the old draft agreement had been prepared, and he suggested that Pennington be required to sign a facilities deed as well as the transfer agreement.
The board then approved the waterline transfer.
In a similar but separate matter, the PRWID board then took up the matter of a request for a water line extension in the same area. Lyle Hadden had a written request before the board to extend the four inch line an additional 600 feet across BLM land to properties he owns in the area. Hadden would assume the full cost of the project and the work would be done in compliance with PRWID standards.
Palmer pointed out that Hadden would be required to secure the proper BLM permit and easement before proceeding, and he told board members that Hadden would want to institute a pay back agreement similar to Pennington's to recover part of his costs as others hooked to the line.
Again the board debated the project for some time. Attorney Sampinos suggested that the board approve the water line extension in principle, contingent upon Hadden securing the proper BLM permits and presenting the board with a formal letter of intent. In the letter, Hadden would be required to state that all other landowners in the immediate area had been advised of the project and invited to participate as partners.
The board approved the project in principle following counsel's advice.
In a manager's report, Palmer told the board that an inspection of the old Willow Creek mine property was conducted last week in a final resolution of releasing bonds held for reclamation work. He said the water district would do nothing with the property they have purchased at the old mine site until the bond issues are officially resolved. He expects to be able to occupy the property in about six weeks.
Palmer said that work on the Helper bypass project is expected to begin soon and issues of water and sewer infrastructure and line transfers are being addressed.
The board took up the issue of an emergency water rate for Helper City. Helper has had no water service agreement with PRWID in the past, and Helper is the only city that has been charged an emergency water rate. An emergency rate fee was charged during an incident last summer when emergency water was purchased during problems with the Helper system.
Sampinos suggested that instead of setting an emergency water rate for Helper, the district set an emergency water rate for the whole water district.
After some discussion, Tatton made a motion that the board approve a countywide rate for all non-contract entities. He specified that the rate be called a non-contract water rate and not an emergency water rate. The motion carried.