A lot is happening with your water system. This message is meant to provide a little information about what is going on.
2015 is going to be a very busy summer with water meter installation and water system work. We are happy to report that both water systems are currently performing well. There are no known problems or major leaks at this time. All four pumps are operational. The water tests are being performed as prescribed and our water is testing fine.
We are being required by the State of Washington to install water meters on all services by 2017. In May of 2012, we set out to verify and understand this requirement. In May of 2013, we assigned a committee to develop a proposed working and financial plan of how we could meet this standard. At the May meeting of 2014, the membership approved this plan. We are right on schedule and on budget with the plan that was approved by the membership in May of 2014.
Over the winter a request for quote was sent to all of the qualified contractors in the valley, asking for bids. In addition, we advertised to attract outside contractors. We communicated with a number of qualified contractors, including a few from outside the Methow Valley. In the end we received four bids and accepted all of them as qualified. After a process of interviews, checking references and review, the Water Meter Committee and the Board selected F&S Excavating for this project.
F & S is a Twisp-based company which has been doing extensive work in the Valley for about 10 years. Andy is the owner of the company and we feel he and his company are well qualified to do this work. We are currently working on our contractual agreement. We expect to actually get started installing water meters in late-April.
Of course the unknowns are ahead of us, but the bids came at a cost that is encouraging and we may be able to do this at the budget levels that we presented at the 2014 May meeting.
All of the project management and work so far has been done by volunteers. Without the cost savings incurred from their contributions, the cost of this project would be far higher.
April, May and June have the potential for water outages and road closures as a result of the water meter installation project. Effort will be made to make disruptions as small and short as possible. In addition, we will try to notify the members regarding which neighborhoods we will be working in and when there might be water outages. We can’t notify everyone- we just don’t have the resources. In addition we need to keep the diggers digging. But we will try.
We do not yet have a strategic plan for when or where we will be working on the water meters. There are just too many variables and we need to remain flexible as to where we work. We will do our best and thank you for your patience in advance.
We should have a fair amount of work under our belt at the 2015 May member meeting. Please come so we can update you and tell you how we see the next year and a half of work.
WATER SYSTEM STRATEGIC PLAN 2015
As you know, the association has been investing in water system upgrades each year to address known weaknesses in our system. In most years we have budgeted $30,000 for “Water System Capital Improvement Projects” Last year we installed a 2nd well at the fire hall and upgraded the upper pumps and controllers to a new technology variable-speed drive system. We now have all new controls and pumps at the fire hall pump house: it’s a vast improvement over the old system. Come see it at the May member meeting. It’s all in place and operating.
In 2015 we have three Water Capital Improvement Projects. The membership approved a little more budget than usual by using some of our surplus monies, mostly acquired by our effective collections efforts. The three projects are:
1. The interconnection of the upper and lower systems
Years ago the upper and lower water systems operated as one. It didn’t work well: the pressure was too high below and the upper well did all the work because of the elevation difference. So the valves between the systems were closed, isolating the systems. If one system failed that was it. We are installing an interconnection so if one system fails the other system will provide water to the failed system. With the new generator, in the event of a power failure the lower pumps will stop. The upper pumps will operate on the generator. The lower system will operate getting water from the upper system through this new interconnect.
We have the bids and are ready to order this work done as soon as the snow melt allows.
The bid we have for this new interconnection is $13,000 and is slightly less than what is budgeted.
2. The installation of a standby generator at the fire hall
Last summer when the valley was without power, it became clear that we need some backup power for the water system. We have designed and ordered the installation of a new propane-powered standby generator at the fire hall. It will start and come on line automatically in the event of a power failure. It has the capacity to run the fire hall, including heat and both well pumps.
I am expecting that by the May meeting this system will be completed and operational. Please come to the meeting and see it.
We expect this project to cost about $22,000 and is fully budgeted in the member approved 2014 strategic plan.
3. The location and repair of some lost valves in front of the fire hall
In front of the fire hall on Mink road, the pipe coming out of the pump house serves 3 different water mains. Only two of these mains have shut off valves and the locations of both of those have been lost. These are important valves. We have a bid to find these valves and correct this situation. We expect to start this work as soon as the snow recedes adequately.
The bid we have for this work is $9,000 and is fully budgeted in the 2014 strategic plan.
WATER SYSTEM STRATEGIC PLAN: A LOOK AT 2016
The board will recommend continuing to budget the water strategic plan. We know that there are valve and connection problems with the water mains at Susan, Emerson and Rainbow roads. Correcting this is roughly estimated at about $17,500.
During the work of installing water meters, we are expecting to identify a number of system shutoff valves that are either not working or are not there at all. There are a number of places in the system where shutoff valves are needed. In some cases when we want to shut off a single service, we should be able to shut off just a street. Because some valves were never installed in strategic places, we sometimes almost have to shut off the whole system. These valves cost about $2,500 each to install. We are saving some money to install or repair these critical systems shut off valves in 2016. We know we’re going to need them, we just don’t know where.