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PRWID Revisits Water Loss Issue

Sun Advocate reporter

The snow pack in the Mammoth/Cottonwood and White River drainages currently exceed 100 percent of normal, beating the 30-year average in both areas. But Price River Water Improvement District manager Palmer pointed out at last week's PRWID board meeting that the United States Bureau of Reclamation will drain water from Scofield throughout the winter to prevent overflow while the spillway at the dam is being repaired. Due to the releases, he said water will be tight in Carbon County during the upcoming summer months and Scofield Reservoir is forecast to have only about 15,000 acre feet of storage available by Sept. 15.

The Price River Water Improvement District met Feb. 7 and Richard Tatton was sworn in to represent Price city on the board of directors.

The first item on the agenda was a discussion of resolution 2006-1.

The resolution calling for a 30 percent water loss rate standard was proposed and voted down at a board meeting in January.

Under the proposed resolution, 30 percent of all water pledged to PRWID would be written off as lost in the treatment and distribution of water to the users.

Under the proposal, a one-acre foot water share of approximately 326,000 gallons would deliver about 228,000 gallons to a customer. The remaining 97,000 gallons would be written off as lost.

At the PRWID meeting on Jan. 17, the board was split, with two members voting for the proposed resolution and two voting against the 30 percent water loss standard.

It was agreed that PRWID staff would study the issue to find what the actual water loss rate has been during the past few years.

Last Tuesday, PRWID assistant manager Jeff Richens told the board that, after reviewing records for 2005, it was determined 5 percent of the water entering the sand trap at the district's treatment facility in Price Canyon was lost in the treatment process.

Richens stated that a study of meter readings in the transmission lines has shown an approximate delivery loss of about 11 percent throughout the PRWID system.

The 11 percent transmission loss takes into consideration such things as fire flow, line flushing and leaks. The transmission loss, combined with the 5 percent treatment loss, gave the district an approximate 16 percent overall water loss rate for 2005.

Richens pointed out that 2005 was a good water year. He said the 16 percent loss rate might be different in a drier year or a year with special treatment issues such as forest fire contamination of the river or excessive mud and debris from storms and runoff.

PRWID manager Phil Palmer indicated that he had requested water loss information from other districts, but had no numbers to report yet. He said every water system is different and the loss rate of any other district would be meaningless when compared to the PRWID system.

Palmer also said he had contacted Jody Williams, PRWID's water rights attorney, about the matter and she was not aware of any industry-wide water loss standard.

Williams suggested that PRWID keep good records to justify the district's numbers.

Board member Mike Dalpiaz said it was his understanding that Price city water did not go through the treatment plant and, therefore, should not be subject to the 5 percent treatment loss at the PRWID plant.

Palmer agreed.

Referring to fire flow counted as a water loss, board member Karl Houskeeper said, in his opinion, water used in fighting fires should not be charged to municipalities or PRWID customers. He said fire flow should be something the district provides as a service.

There followed a discussion about the difficulty of measuring water used in fire fighting and how the number of gallons might never be properly calculated since hydrants are not metered.

Board member Tom Matthews suggested that, if a 30 percent water loss standard was too high, the PRWID panel should consider adopting a 20 percent standard.

Matthews said, that in his opinion, 16 percent was too tight and the board has an obligation to provide some leeway to cover unforeseen circumstances.

Before the board makes any decision about water loss standards, Dalpiaz recommended that the district staff should compile more data for study.

"One year is not enough," said Dalpiaz. "The difference between 16 percent and 30 percent is substantial."

Board member Keith Cox then suggested that staff go back through 2002 and compile the numbers.

"This will give us four years of data," noted Cox.

A motion was then passed to table the issue for further study.

The next agenda item was a discussion of the ongoing winter water project for stock watering. Several board members of the Carbon Canal Company were in attendance at the meeting.

A draft of a stock water delivery and lease agreement between PRWID and the canal company was presented and discussed.

Since the draft was presented for the first time and no one had time to study it beforehand, PRWID attorney Nick Sampinos suggested that the item be tabled for a future meeting when all parties would be better informed.

The PRWID board delayed taking action on the draft agreement until a later meeting.

In financial business, the board voted to give $2,000 to the county's economic development department and approved an annual lease for a backhoe. The members also approved buying a new oil heater for the maintenance building and the purchase of a new pneumatic grease hose reel system for the shop.

In a manger's report, Palmer indicated that the snow pack at the Mammoth/Cottonwood and White River drainages showed better than average precipitation for the winter. He said both the areas are in excess of 100 of normal and the numbers beat the 30-year average.

On the downside, Palmer explained that the United States Bureau of Reclamation will be draining water from Scofield all winter to prevent any overflow while the spillway at the dam is being repaired. He said water will be tight in the coming summer months and the reservoir is forecast to have only about 15 thousand acre feet of water available by Sept. 15.

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