Water Meter Project FAQ

Updated September 2016

Please note that the Water Meter Project is now complete. This page now serves an archive of project-related information.

IllustrationbTypical Water Meter Hook-up

The board has received many questions regarding the Water Meter project and Annual Billing issues. The following are questions and answers to the most common inquiries.
Click questions below to reveal/hide answers.

I Installation & Water Outage Schedule

1. When will my water meter be installed?

Answer:
There is no way to know this information. The project should be completed before the end of the 2016 construction season. There are too many variables to predict exactly where the contractor will be working in the upcoming months. The best answer is to keep looking at the website Home page and/or Water Meter page and follow the Water Outage Prediction Maps that are posted weekly. Please be aware that these are estimates only.

Water Outage Prediction Maps:
Each week we will post a map of the community highlighting the areas where we will be working and including the areas affected by water shutoffs. These maps will provide estimated information about water outages about 1-week in advance of the planned work.

2. How long will my water be out for Water Meter installations?

Answer:
Outages will generally be designed to take place on Thursdays, but might easily be Wednesday or Friday or actually any time. Outages will likely be all day but will not be overnight by design.

2. What is WATER RIGHT?

Answer:
The Lost River Airport Association holds permits from the Washington Department of Ecology allowing it to provide water to its members. Under those permits, the Association is authorized to allow a limited number of connections to its water system. The Association has long called those connections “water rights.”  The current price for an LRAA member to use a water right is listed under the “Dues and Fees” section of the website (http://lostriverairport.com/guidelines-fees/lraa-dues-fees/), plus $250 state imposed utility tax.
 
There are a limited number of water rights available to the Association. A water right, once issued by the Association, becomes attached to the parcel to which it was issued. An LRAA member holding a water right may not provide water to any other parcel, nor may that member sell or transfer a water right to another member for use on a different parcel. The cost of a water right can be found under Dues and Fees.
 
Note that a water right provides the member only the right to connect to the system, but doesn’t make that connection.  Each member is responsible to make and pay for that connection, including installing a vault and water meter, in conformance with LRAA specifications.

III. Annual Water Fee

1. Does every member with a water right have to pay the ANNUAL WATER FEE?

Answer:
Yes. The LRAA water system needs to be tested and maintained, whether you have perfected your water right by connecting to our system or not.

2. What does the ANNUAL WATER FEE pay for?

Answer:
This fee is used to pay for the testing and upkeep of the entire Lost River water system. All members holding water rights pay this fee annually.

3. Does the ANNUAL WATER FEE still apply if a member chooses to NOT have a water meter installed, thereby being disconnected from the water system?

Answer:
All members holding water rights pay this fee annually, whether or not they are connected to the water system.

IV. Water System Changes Special Assessment

1. What is the fee titled WATER SYSTEM CHANGES SPECIAL ASSESSMENT for?

Answer:
The $805 on your 2015 invoice is for meter project-related water system changes. This payment not only pays for water system-related improvements associated with meter installation, it also pays for equipment associated with the water meters that will allow efficient operation of the system. Members holding water rights currently pay water system fees regardless of whether or not they are not hooked up to the system. The fee also helps keep the wells and system in good working order.

2. Do I have to pay the WATER SYSTEM CHANGES SPECIAL ASSESSMENT if I don’t install a water meter?

Answer:
All members holding a water right – regardless of whether or not a water meter will be installed – must pay the “Special Assessment: Related Water System Changes” fee. In 2015 that fee is $805. Please note that a “Special Assessment: Related Water System Changes” fee will also be billed in 2016 and, if needed, again in 2017. At the end of the 2015 construction season, we will review our cost estimate, make any necessary adjustments and bill members accordingly. At the end of the 2016 construction season we will compare actual costs with amounts collected and make the appropriate adjustments for 2017.

3. Why do members who hold a water right have to pay the WATER SYSTEM CHANGES SPECIAL ASSESSMENT?

Answer:
The membership voted at the 2014 Annual Meeting to have this fee applied to all water rights.

4. Would we get a credit for the Water System Changes we are paying for in 2015-2017 if we decide to have a water meter installed in the future?

Answer:
By carrying out the WATER SYSTEM CHANGES now, no LRAA water system changes will be necessary when you choose to have a water meter installed after completion of the current project. While there would be no monetary “credit”, the system changes being made to the LRAA water system should allow you to more easily install a water meter, so you would benefit from these changes through easier meter installation sometime in the future. If you are not connected to the water system, you will still need to pay to be connected to the water main, as this is not considered part of the current project. The cost is estimated to be $1250 while the current project is underway.

V. Water Meters

1. Why is Lost River Association being ordered to install water meters?

Answer:
The law requires LRAA as a municipal water system to have a water meter installed and operational on every connection to its system by January 31, 2017.

2. If I currently do not have a water meter and am connected to the LRAA water system, do I need to install one?

Answer:
Members holding a water right and who are currently connected to the LRAA water system must install a water meter if they want to continue to be connected to the LRAA water system. Those members have the right to opt out of having a water meter installed at this time, however, if they do so the member would be disconnected from the LRAA water system. To opt out of having a water meter installed a member needs to formally notify the Board of that decision in writing.

3. What advantage is a meter for someone with undeveloped land and who has never used the Lost River Association water supply?

Answer:
We assume that because a contractor will be onsite installing multiple water meters during the 2015 construction season, the cost to have a meter installed at that time will most likely be lower than installing a single meter later on. Of course we can’t know what the future water installation cost might be.

4. Do you know how much approximately it would cost to install a meter later on when we sell the property?

Answer:
There is no way to know the answer to this, unfortunately.

VI. For a member holding a water right, who is NOT CONNECTED to the Water System, but WILL have a water meter installed:

1. Can and will this meter be installed by the Association?

Answer:
If the member has responded to the 2015 invoice that they want a water meter installed and pays the required charges, a vault and meter will be installed. However, the scope of the LRAA water meter project does not include the installation of a new LRAA service line between the main and the vault. To have a new LRAA service line installed requires a fee in addition to the amounts included in the 2015 invoice and a discussion with the LRAA Project Manager. The work will be done by the LRAA-selected water meter contractor.

2. Will there be an additional charge to install the meter, if the member is not currently hooked up to the water system?

Answer:
The cost of the meter installation will be the same for all members and the first installment of that cost was included in the 2015 invoice.

3. Will there be an additional charge to install a LRAA service line from the water main to the meter, if the member is not currently hooked up to the water system?

Answer:
Installation of a new service line to a new meter vault is outside of the scope of the LRAA water meter project. However, if a member wanted a new LRAA service line, they would need to pay the charges contained on the 2015 invoice and pay an additional amount to have a saddle installed on the main and an LRAA service line installed from the main to the meter vault. During the water meter installation project, the cost for this additional work will be $1250 and would be done by the LRAA-selected water meter contractor.

4. Will LRAA install a waterline from the meter onto the private property (where none currently exists)?

Answer:
No, the POD (point of demarcation) is the discharge fitting of the meter vault, usually within about 5′ of the property line. The landowner is responsible for anything after that. The only thing that the association will do after the POD is to re-connect an existing pipe to the meter vault.

5. How should a member proceed if he/she wishes to have a new meter and new service line installed as part of the Water Meter project:

Answer:
1) Pay all of the current year’s dues and fees, including the meter installation fee; and 2) contact the LRAA Project Manager via the website so that payment and schedule arrangements can be made. The work will be done by the LRAA-selected water meter contractor.

VII. For a Member holding a water right, and ALREADY CONNECTED to the Water System:

1. Does the cost I’m paying for the LRAA water meter project look at or fix the water line from the vault/meter to my house?

Answer:
No.

2. Can I contract with and have the LRAA meter installation contractor look at the water line from the vault/meter to my house and make the necessary corrections/replacement?

Answer:
You are free to talk to our contractor and you are responsible for the entire cost of doing that work.

3. Can I contract with a different contractor to install look at the water line from the vault/meter to my house and make the necessary corrections/replacement?

Answer:
Yes. You would need to talk the LRAA Project Manager (best way to contact is via website) to work out schedules so the two contractors don’t get in each others way.

4. Does the cost I’m paying for the LRAA water meter project look at or fix the existing LRAA service line from the vault/meter to the LRAA main?

Answer:
Yes, if the LRAA service line from your meter to the LRAA main is not sufficiently deep or is made of inadequate materials, it will be replaced to the current LRAA specifications.

5. Does the amount I’m paying for the LRAA water meter project in 2015 install a vault and a meter?

Answer:
Yes, however the 2015 assessment for the water meter project is only the first installment. At the end of the 2015 building season, the board will review actual costs and determine what the second installment in 2016 will be. At the conclusion of the 2016 construction season, the board will again look at actual costs and either invoice the membership for a third and final installment in 2017 or discuss with members at the annual meeting how any excess funds are to be handled, i.e., either refunded or used for other water system purposes.

VIII. For a Member holding a water right, but NOT CONNECTED to the Water System:

1. Does the cost I’m paying for the LRAA water meter project look at or fix the water line from the vault/meter to my cabin?

Answer:
No.

2. Does the cost I’m paying for the LRAA water meter project install a water line from the vault/meter to the LRAA main?

Answer:
No.

3. Can I pay an additional fee and have the LRAA meter installation contractor install an LRAA service line from the meter to the LRAA main?

Answer:
Yes. This cost for this additional work will be $1250. Contact the LRAA Project Manager if you wish to pursue this option.

4. Can I contract with a different contractor to install an LRAA service line from the meter to the LRAA main?

Answer:
No. The contractor chosen by the Association will be responsible for all installations of water meters and LRAA service lines for the duration of this project (to late fall of 2016).

5. Does the cost I’m paying for the LRAA water meter project install a vault and a meter?

Answer:
Yes.

6. What does the $805 “system changes/corrections” payment pay for?

Answer:
The $805 on your 2015 invoice is for meter project related water system changes. This payment not only pays for water system related improvements associated with meter installation, it also pays for equipment associated with the water meters that will allow efficient operation of the system when you decide to perfect your water right and attach to the LRAA System. Members holding water rights currently pay water system fees even though they may not be hooked up to the system and that fee helps keep the wells and system in good working order so its ready when the member needs water.

7. What benefit do I get out of paying the $805 for “system changes/corrections”?

Answer:
First, $805 is only the first installment of the system changes/corrections fee. At the end of the 2015 building season, the board will review the actual costs and determine what the second installment will be. At the conclusion of the 2016 construction season, the board will again look at actual costs and either invoice the membership for a third and final installment or discuss with members at the annual meeting how any excess funds are to be handled, i.e., either refunded or used for other water system purposes.

Rationale:
This payment not only pays for water system-related improvements associated with meter installation, it also pays for equipment associated with the water meters that will allow efficient operation of the system. Members holding water rights currently pay water system fees regardless of whether or not they are not hooked up to the system. The fee also helps keep the wells and system in good working order.

8. I’m building a cabin during the 2015 construction season. Can I schedule a particular time when my meter and vault are installed so it fits into my cabin construction schedule?

Answer:
No. However, the LRAA-selected contractor will be able to do that work within a reasonable time after you request the work to be done. Contact the LRAA Project Manager for further information. Please see the responses to questions 3 and 4 above for further information.

9. Can I use my own contractor to install my meter and/or new service line to the LRAA Water System?

Answer:
If you are currently connected to the LRAA water system, you can opt out of having a meter installed by the LRAA water project contractor, but during the 2015-2016 LRAA water project work you cannot have another contractor install the meter, vault or service line or make the connection to the LRAA water system.

Rationale:
• The membership agreed to have work done by one contractor.
• There would be too much opportunity for multiple contractors to interfere with the work being done by each other.
• Neither the Board nor the Association has the manpower needed to oversee work being done by different contractors to ensure they are installing vaults, meters, LRAA service lines, water main connections and road restoration in accordance with LRAA requirements.
• Allowing different contractors to do water system work at the same time would lead to multiple water service interruptions, inconveniencing all LRAA members.

IX. Requests for New Connections to the LRAA Water System During the LRAA Water Meter Project (2015-2016)

1. How do I request a connection after the installation of water meters has already started?

Answer:
While the LRAA contractor is on site, LRAA will provide the requesting member with a package price (that LRAA obtained from contractor F&S) that includes procurement and installation of a new vault, meter and LRAA service line by F&S on a schedule to be discussed at the time of the request, but that will not interfere with the LRAA project schedule. Please contact the Association ASAP for details.

X. Request for “1-inch Stop & Waste Valve”

1. Can a stop and waste valve be added on the member’s side of the water meter?

Answer:
Yes. A new 1″ stop and waste valve would be installed about a foot away from the meter vault on the members side of the Point of Demarcation. (POD)
 
The contractor is willing to do this additional work for $340. If you want a stop and waste valve installed, send a check for $340 to LRAA (PO Box 1272, Winthrop WA 98862) with a note including indicating that you are paying for a stop and waste valve, your parcel number and contact info. Please do this ASAP – before the contractor installs your water meter. Note that this cost is only good at the time the meter is being installed. The only way to order this option is to make the appropriate payment to the Association before the contractor installs your meter.
 
Note that the meter vault will contain a shutoff valve that will be accessible to members. However, this is not a stop and waste valve, and is intended for emergency or service shutdowns only. The shutoff valve in the meter vault is not intended to be used routinely.
 
If a member wishes to have a stop and waste valve installed just downstream from the vault this can be done for a flat fee of $340, at the time the member’s meter is installed only IllustrationbTypical Water Meter Hook-up

2. What is a “Stop & Waste Valve” vs. a “Shut-off Valve?”

Answer:
A shutoff valve is simply a valve that turns off water. When turned off, the water stops but remains in the pipes. A stop and waste valve contains a drain that opens when the valve is in the closed position. This drain feature causes the water in the pipe on the discharge side of the valve to drain out of the pipe into the soil for freeze protection.

XI. Request for Upsizing to a 1 1/2″ Meter & Vault

1. One of the options the association is offering to members as they have water meters installed is to upsize the vault and meter to 1 1/2″. What is this about?

Answer:
The meters we are installing are 5/8″ meters. The pit vault assembly is plumbed at 3/4″. New service lines we are installing are 1″. This is standard in the industry for a single family residence. Most of the service lines we are seeing as we uncover them are 1″ or 3/4″.
 
Over the years some services that were installed were 1 1/2″. This larger diameter is not beneficial for a single family residence but some of these members were using them to supply a 1 1/2″ fire standpipe on their property. We have to meter any water that we provide onto private property.
 
Because a 5/8″ meter will restrict the flow to a 1 1/2″ fire standpipe, we are offering to upgrade to a 1 1/2″ meter and vault assembly for a flat fee of $2,100 at the time the member’s meter is installed, assuming that there is already an adequate 1 1/2″ service line in place. (We would not replace a deficient  1 1/2″ service line, there would be extra cost for that.) Please send a check for $2,100 to LRAA (PO Box 1272, Winthrop WA 98862) with a note indicating what you are paying for, your parcel number and contact info. Please do this ASAP – before the contractor installs your water meter. Note that this cost is only good at the time the meter is being installed. The only way to order this option is to make the appropriate payment to the association before the contractor installs your meter.
 
It is important to note that a larger meter and vault will not have any effect on the allocations of water granted to each parcel.

XII. Water Meter Billing

1. How does the water meter billing work?

Answer:
When the budget was created to cover the costs of the water meter installations and water system upgrades, it was decided to spread the cost out over 2-3 years. This would in effect lower the financial impact on individual members and allow for cost adjustments as the project moved forward.
 
The membership was billed 65% of the projected cost for Water Meter installation and Water System Upgrades in 2015, and subsequently billed the remaining 35% of the projected cost in 2016. The total project costs are coming out well below what was anticipated, hence the much lower bill in 2016 than was originally anticipated.
 
In 2015, members paid 65% of the budgeted cost of the Water Meter and Water System project. In 2016, members paid what amounted to the remaining budgeted cost of the project (barring unanticipated problems and unforeseeable costs), which should cover the remaining 35% of the Water Meter Installation and Water System Upgrades.
 
Should additional costs arise, the membership will pay these in 2017.
 
Please see the following links:
 
http://lostriverairport.com/2014/05/22/water-meter-project-cost-estimation/ (very bottom of the page)
 
http://lostriverairport.com/about-lraa/lraa-water-policy/water-meters/water-meter-project-faqs/ (Section IV, topic #2)

 


 

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