The Price River Water Improvement District board met last Tuesday and revisited the issue of setting a loss standard for PRWID.
The district has used a 30 percent water delivery loss standard since PRWID was organized in 1978. But Wellington city recently challenged the number.
For a few months, the board has wrestled with the issue. Several studies have been done in an attempt to determine the actual water loss numbers and what other districts use as standards.
PRWID manager Phil Palmer presented letters from water rights attorney Jody Williams and consulting hydrologist Carly Burton to the board at the March 14 meeting.
Williams and Burton are of the opinion that the 30 percent water loss standard is reasonable and justified.
There followed a lengthy discussion about the matter.
Palmer pointed out that there are three components of the job the district does for the county: water supply, treatment and distribution. Water loss occurs at all steps of the process.
Supply loss is a factor the board has not taken into consideration while debating the issue, indicated the PRWID manager.
A study commissioned by the district in 2002 showed that for one year, 1991, the water loss between the Scofield dam and the treatment facility in the canyon was calculated at 24 percent, explained Palmer referring to Burton's letter.
According to Burton's letter, that fact alone justifies the 30 percent loss standard.
Palmer suggested that a 10 percent supply loss standard would be reasonable. That number, when added to the 17 to 22 percent distribution loss the district can show by actual meter readings, brackets the long-established 30 percent loss standard.
Board member Karl Houskeeper said that he didn't think the supply loss should be used in the water loss calculations. The Wellington mayor maintained that supply is a water right issue and loss is an issue of treatment and distribution.
Other board members did not agree with Houskeeper.
A good deal of debate centered on a suggestion made in the water rights attorney's letter.
Williams pointed out that part of the confusion might be from how the water loss resolution is worded.
Instead of adopting a water loss standard of 30 percent, William suggested that the district implement a "reserve" standard of 30 percent.
Board member Keith Cox noted that the resolution, as drafted, includes a "water delivery loss."
Cox suggested that the wording be changed to read: "district reserve policy."
The board member pointed out that, by adopting a "reserve policy," the end result would be the same, but the emphasis and justification would be better presented.
Cox explained that the purpose of resolution is not to allow the board to do anything different from established policy. But according to Williams' letter, the board will be ratifying what the PRWID has been doing for the past 28 years.
PRWID attorney Nick Sampinos pointed out that, by passing the resolution, the board would not be ratifying a 30 percent water loss, but implementing a loss plus a reserve standard.
A matter for the board to consider is the fact that there is no recorded water conveyance loss between Scofield and the treatment plant, in spite of what was said in Burton's letter, explained the PRWID attorney.
The district should not use solid numbers in setting the policy, but a combination of factors could be used to justify the total water loss, advised Sampinos
There followed a discussion about charging different water loss rates to industrial and household users, but Sampinos insisted that the district must treat all users equally.
Houskeeper debated the issue of "unused" reserves being retained in the reservoir when the water is needed for municipal and agricultural uses.
The comment led to a discussion of the pending water service agreement between Wellington city and PRWID..
In the end, Cox called for a resolution to re-draft the wording of the water loss standard resolution. He asked that changes be made to reflect the water reserve aspect and to spell out the supply loss as well as the delivery loss numbers factored into the equation.
A resolution motion was made, seconded and passed. A revised version of the water loss resolution will be presented for a vote at the next PRWID meeting.
After the resolution passed, the board agreed to allow the board of water resources to complete another loss study of the PRWID system. But the decision was contingent upon BWR doing the study at no charge to the district.
Houskeeper suggested the study and offered to be the contact person between the district and BWR.
In other business, the PRWID board and officials signed a service agreement with Carbon Canal Company on the winter livestock water project. Rick Borrell signed for the canal company.
Palmer told the board that there are 180 connections in the winter water project and only a few miscellaneous items remain to be cleaned up before a final sign-off on the project.
In an unrelated business matter, approval was given for the district to hire two summer help employees. The board also voted to assume control and management of the water delivery system to the Eagle Cliff subdivision in Carbonville.
In addition, Palmer gave the board an update of the recent Price River distribution meeting concerning work on Scofield dam.
One item of concern raised during the discussion was the United States Bureau of Reclamation's intent to draw down the reservoir for a full water season before construction on the spillway even begins.
Board member Mike Dalpaz made a motion calling for the PRWID board to ask all cities in the district to send a letter of concern to BOR.
Dalpiaz said he could see no need for the water level to be reduced this year if construction will not begin until next year.
Other members of the PRWID board were in agreement and the resolution passed.