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Water District Panel Debates PRWID's Loss Rate Resolution

Sun Advocate reporter

The Price River Water Improvement District Board met last Tuesday to swear in new members and reorganize the panel.

Mayor Mike Dalpiaz was sworn in as the new board member from Helper. Richard Tatton will be the board member designee from Price after being sworn in at the next meeting.

At the Jan. 17 gathering, the board voted to sustain Keith Cox as chairman, Karl Houskeeper as vice-chairman, Kathy Dahl as secretary, Guido Rachiele as clerk and Nick Sampinos as legal counsel.

In addition, the following department assignments were made:

•Cox, administration.

•Dalpiaz, water treatment.

•Tom Matthews, fleet.

•Tatton, maintenance.

•Houskeeper, waste water management.

Resolution 2006-1 was then presented for the board's approval.

The resolution called for establishing a water delivery loss rate of 30 percent for the district. That number would be used to calculate the gallons of water a retail customer, like Wellington city, could claim for each water share pledged to the district.

By incorporating a 30 percent loss standard, the district would be obligated to deliver about 228,000 gallons for every share surrendered.

A Scofield water share is one acre-foot or about 326,000 gallons.

The resolution was drafted as a result of the Wellington council questioning the 30 percent loss rate number when it was included in a draft of a new water service agreement between the city and the water district.

PRWID manager Phil Palmer told attendees at last week's meeting that the 30 percent loss rate figure had been used since the district was incorporated in 1978.

PRWID assistant manager Jeff Richens gave several reasons for water loss in the treatment and delivery system.

The reasons included leaking lines, back flushing at the water treatment plant, fire hydrant testing, water line breaks, routine filter cleaning at the treatment plant and the flushing of new lines by district employees.

Board member Karl Houskeeper, who represents Wellington on the PRWID panel, indicated that, in his opinion, the 30 percent number was arbitrary and too high.

"I want to see some justification as to why the 30 percent loss rate is in effect," said Houskeeper.

Richens and Palmer pointed out that there were no exact figures available.

The manager and assistant director explained that it is difficult to obtain an exact water loss percentage as conditions at the treatment plant and line maintenance projects were always variable and no single calculation is meaningful.

Dalpiaz indicated that a one-third loss rate was, in his opinion, a significant number and he thought the board should be able to offer an explanation of how the number was determined.

Sampinos asked if there was an industry standard for water loss rates. PRWID's legal counsel was told there was none.

"Everyone's water source is different," explained Palmer. "All data will vary. There is no single way to calculate this."

There were many variables, many unique and different circumstances involved, and no two water systems are the same, continued Palmer. Using data from any other water system would be pointless.

Since the district is measuring the water going into the treatment plant, Houskeeper said PRWID should be able to read meters downstream in the delivery system and calculate the gallons of water lost.

Richens and Palmer maintained that, while it sounded simple, there are many variables that need to be taken into consideration, such as the time of year, flow rate and turbidity of the water at the treatment plant, and the rate of water demand at the time the test is conducted.

Houskeeper pointed out that a water loss assessment might be a good thing for the district to consider. He said Wellington had recently been forced to tighten up the city's procedures because of the cost of excessive water loss.

The Wellington mayor noted that a study done by the city had determined a loss rate of 30 percent to 40 percent.

"We reviewed and tightened up our system," commented Houskeeper. "We fixed the leaks and significantly reduced the loss. Our loss rate is now at 10 percent or so."

The Wellington mayor felt the water district should do the same type of study.

Dalpiaz suggested that PRWID work on getting loss rate numbers for two weeks and report back to the board at the next meeting.

Matthews asked if the district could do a one-month assessment and report the findings.

After further discussion, Palmer agreed to contact the state water board and ask for the loss rate numbers of similar districts.

Cox then suggested that the resolution be passed as presented. He asked members to pass the resolution as drafted or table the matter for a future meeting.

Matthews made a motion that the board pass the resolution as drafted, setting the loss rate standard at 30 percent. Cox seconded, but the motion failed.

The vote was split with Cox and Matthews supporting and Houskeeper and Dalpiaz opposing the board passing the resolution.

Introducing an unrelated matter at the Jan. 17 meeting, Palmer addressed the sewer extension projects in Wellington and Spring Glen.

The board approved a change order in the payment schedule to the contractors. Palmer explained how patches had been made on sinking trenches and new asphalt applied. A 10.5-foot asphalt patch has been applied to the Spring Glen road and the water district is petitioning Carbon County for help in the cost of the project.

The board also approved a change order for the Carbonville / east Wellington project that allowed a $28,000 additional payment to the contractor for patches along failed trench lines.

Richens then gave a rundown on upcoming requirements for water production delivery reporting. He explained that several drinking water standards are changing in the next few years, new test requirements will go into effect, and the cost could be significant to the district. He said that compliance with the new standards could cost the district as much as two million dollars. He explained that federal monies will be available as loans and as grants, but the cost of borrowing for the project will still burden for the water district. He presented a chart and an overview of some of the new tests and standards the district will need to comply with.

The board then addressed some capital purchase items and approved a new roof for the chemical building. A request for a pneumatic hose reel distribution system for oil and grease in the maintenance building bogged down in a discussion of the bidding process, contract work, preferred vendors, and the organization of the PRWID maintenance section. No action was taken and the item was tabled until the next meeting.

Palmer gave an update of the ongoing winter water project for farmers. He said the project is nearly completed and all legal agreements will be finalized in the next 30 days. Only a few hookups remain to be completed. He reminded everyone that under the terms of the winter water project, a stock-watering hookup cannot be converted to a residential hookup. He said he was sure there would be inquiries.

The board passed an ordinance establishing a third exemption to the minimum standards for commercial sewer connections. They also agreed to send several district employees and water board members to five different training sessions in the intermountain region for 2006. They discussed supporting local businesses as much as possible, and Matthews suggested that the board chairman write a letter to the Special Service District board to thank them for their recent pledge of help with the Scofield dam spillway project.

The next meeting of the PRWID board will be on Tuesday, February 7.

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