Dear WWA members,
In our last communication we indicated concern about a documented decline in the aquifer that supplies the Anderson Well field (2 wells) and that we were pursuing the acquisition of a new well (aka Back 40A well) to enhance our water supply. This summer we were able to meet all of the demand with our existing sources but not with a very large margin and we had an average not a hot summer. We are pleased to report that the Washington State Department of Health, NW Drinking Water Operations has reviewed the Source Approval document that we submitted and has approved the new well for our use. Approval of this source by the State was a prerequisite to executing the purchase agreement crafted between our Association and the owners. We expect to complete the transfer of ownership in the next week or two.
That leaves us with some additional topics:
- 1) Submission of a Small Water System Management Plan (SWSMP) to DOH as a required complement to the Source Approval document, and
- 2) Payment for the expenditures associated with the acquisition and development of the new source
WWA last submitted a Comprehensive Plan in 1996 so updating that planning document with a SWSMP is long overdue and was also a major undertaking. The SWSMP is undergoing final review by your Board. It is our view that the acquisition of the new well puts WWA in the unusual (historically speaking) position to be able to add a modest number of new members. The SWSMP documents our rationale to increase the number of total shares in WWA to 245 which would mean an increase of a net 10 new shares. It is important to note that this request has not yet been approved by DOH, but we feel that the justification we provided is conservative and thus expect the request will be granted. The Board is working concurrently with the SWSMP submittal process to clarify the mechanics of the issuance of any new shares that result. An ad hoc committee consisting of 2 WWA Board and several Association members has reviewed the Association By-Laws and Board policies for congruence and will make recommendations for modifications to both the Board (regarding Board policies) and the Membership (for By-Law suggestions).
Repayment of the cost to develop the Back 40 well
We estimate that the Back 40A well acquisition and development to connect to the existing infrastructure will cost about $65,000. The Board feels that 1/3 of that amount should be the responsibility of existing members (based on the need to increase our capacity by about 10 gpm to serve current peak demand which is 1/3 of the 30 gpm capacity of the Back 40A well) and, in
particular, existing members whose summertime water usage represents excess demand. That will leave 2/3 of the cost to be paid back from the sales of new shares. Rather than create an assessment, the Board feels that the cost to existing members should come from an increase in the billing rate for water usage above the base rate. Assuming a three-year paydown schedule we will need to derive about $7,500/year from this water usage rate surcharge. Typically, we derive about 30% (or $38,000) of our annual revenue from water sales above the base rate. So, we are anticipating an increase of in the water billing rate of about 20% above the base rate for the next three years to cover the development of the new source. The Board is working on the details by water usage tier and will be publishing that information by the end of October with the new billing rates going into effect starting in November 2020. Any funds collected for share sales beyond the amount needed to pay for the Back 40A well will be added to the Capital Asset Replacement fund.
As always, the Board welcomes your questions and comments The WWA Board
The Annual Meeting of Westside Water Association will be held at 7:00 PM on Thursday, May 28, 2020. Because of the Covid-19 situation the meeting will be held remotely via Zoom. Please “arrive” ½ hour before the meeting to check in. Due to this venue change we will require certain protocols so that a quorum and your vote can be verified. On this notice’s envelope address line is your member account number. Please note and remember it. At the meeting we will record your attendance and, when necessary, any votes by using this number. We need at least 60 members to join the meeting via Zoom room or by proxy in order to conduct business. This year it is especially important that you send in your proxy form to authorize a person to vote in your place if you cannot attend. Proxies will be verified by the Associations Secretary prior to the meeting.
Your Board has had another active year. One major change has been understanding the impact of our usage of the Anderson wells and their sustainability. This knowledge has caused us to once again look for additional water to meet our summertime peak demand. We look forward to sharing some of our news at the annual meeting, receiving feedback from you and hearing any concerns or suggestions you may have. You can find more information in recent newsletters and at the WWA web site: which will have the posting of the 2019-2020 financial report, a re-cap of this years voting issues, our well’s water column heights data and more. We encourage you to visit it.
The annual meeting will begin promptly at 7:00 PM. Again, please “arrive” in the Zoom meeting early, at 6:30 so you can be checked in. On or before May 18th you will receive an email describing how to join this Zoom meeting. Here is the unique number we have reserved: After you check in, you can go do something else until the meeting formally starts but coming early will really help ease the process of checking in.
Because this technology may be new to you, we will be offering “practice” Zoom meetings at various times; one in the morning and another in the evening the week before the annual meeting. Check your email for practice meeting notices. These will offer you the opportunity to log in and become familiar with the Zoom platform. I suggest dialing into the 2 practice meetings. Think of this exercise as our “meet and greet” time that we would otherwise enjoy at Havurat, but you will have to bring your own wine and treats, sorry, no sharing of goodies this year. To further aid you on how to use Zoom you can find various instructional videos on You Tube and other internet sites. Please plan to attend and take part in setting the direction of your association for the coming year!
If you lack a computer or internet service you can also join Zoom with your phone. Please contact us if this is your option and we will provide a number to call.
· Call to Order/establishment of quorum
· Minutes of 2018 Annual Meeting (Jim Cross)
· Treasures’s Report (Richard Perret) – see also the financial report on our website or we can email it upon request
· Mary Margret Briggs financial audit of 2019-2020 WWA books
· President’s Report (Jeff Thurlow)
· System Manager’s Report (Doug Dolstad)
· Global Water Initiative Report (Mary Margaret Briggs)
· Old Business
· New Business
Proposal to grant a specific exception to Association by-laws:
o Member proposal: Do you approve or disapprove of an exception to the existing WWA by-laws that would allow WWA member Michael & Nancy O’Conner to transfer an existing WWA share attached to an unbuilt parcel they own to a different parcel where their home is?
· Election of Board Member for 2 positions
Nominated, as of this date, is Pat Call to fill Patte Wagner’s position. Richard Perret is willing to be re-elected to the position he serves in. We welcome any member to make their own nomination and this will be asked of you at the meeting
Check out the ANNUAL MEETING Link above for some additional details and documents.
Westside Water Association Newsletter Spring 2020
The daffodils are up, the flowering trees are bursting with blossoms and our temperatures are starting to rise again so it must be…March. Although we still have some risk of storms and a cold snap, we appear to have had a fairly mild winter. That’s it for the good news; now for the rest.
World flips on its axis
Since we first wrote a draft of this newsletter the world has changed almost incomprehensibly. A global viral pandemic unprecedented in over 100 years has sent a huge shockwave through our health and financial systems and people’s psyches. We know you are likely on corona- overload so suffice it to say that the board recognizes the disruption this is causing for our members. If you are experiencing new financial challenges we are very willing to work with you to ease them as best we can. Contact President Jeff Thurlow (firstname.lastname@example.org) or our operator-manager Doug Dolstad (email@example.com) to follow up.
Rate increase on March Billing
Several of you have noted the rate increase that appears on the March bill. Here is the explanation and the math. In May 2019 the Board voted to have an annual rate increase of 1.8% starting with the May 2019 billing. This action is consistent with our policy over the past several years to use the the Consumer Price Index for the previous year to calculate an annual rate increase. Unfortunately that increase was not communicated to our bookkeeper and that error was only discovered in February. The Board determined that it was appropriate to apply this increase back to May 2019 so you are seeing effectively the entire year increase in one billing. We apologize for this error and for not getting out in front of it better with a communication. In any case that is the story.
King County Right of Way Fee
We have been billing members (~$5/billing period) for the past two years while the lawsuit filed by water and sewer districts to block this fee proceeded through the courts. Late in 2019 the Washington State Supreme Court issued its ruling on this matter upholding King County’s right to assess this fee. We have not heard from King County about this assessment since the ruling but expect to soon. King County had previously informed us that they expect to collect this fee back to their original notification date to WWA of April 2018. Once we get a final figure, we will inform members and adjust our accrual rate accordingly.
Leak, Leaks and more Leaks
Since summer 2019 we have had a number of sequential and substantial leaks: some on the system side and some on member’s properties. The net effect of those leaks is that we have been pumping about a quarter of our water back into the ground since last summer. Not a good situation. We closely monitor losses from leaks, work to find them and repair them promptly when found. During this period our pattern has been one of a sequence of medium sized leaks. As of this writing we appear to have placed enough thumbs in the various holes to be relatively leak free. But we have also felt like we were in this situation several times in the last 8 months so stay tuned. Leaks reduce our capacity to deliver water to you and though repairing them is funded from a portion of our operating budget, ultimately it is the much larger, asset replacement fund, that will allow us to bring these losses down, over time, to a more manageable level.
Anderson Well status
We have continued to see a decline in the ground water level that affects the productivity of the Anderson Wells. It is clear at this point that the amount of water we have been pumping from these wells (~2 million cubic feet per year) is not sustainable. What is not clear is what the sustainable level of pumping will be. We have reduced our dependence on the Anderson Wells since December, relying more heavily on the Canyon Well points (that we normally reduce our use of through the winter). At the present time (and water level) the maximum sustained pumping rate that we can achieve from the two Anderson wells is about 35 gallons per minute (gpm) which means our overall peak capacity of all sources is probably about 60 gpm.
What does this mean for you?
We have enough high-quality water year-round for basic domestic use. However, we are predicting that we do not have enough water to service the historical additional peak demand due to outdoor watering in the July/August period without using the Canyon Well with its elevated arsenic level. We will, of course, manage our resource carefully to minimize the amount of Canyon Well usage but unless we have an extraordinarily cool, cloudy and rainy summer we will have to return to its use this summer. You can play a role in this balance by reducing garden and lawn watering…the more you conserve the less we will need to use the Canyon Well. Historically, 11% of the members use 30% of the water on an annual basis and the board believes it needs to take this disparity into account as we search for long term solutions for our water needs. Again, if we had the water we’d be happy to sell it to our water co-op members at the quantities we have historically been able to provide. The bigger users actually help lower the cost to everyone. But, given the lowering water tables supplying the wells we are being more cautious with our predictions of available water without using the Canyon well (the one with higher levels of arsenic)
At our last Annual Meeting we discussed the need to establish a protocol for a time when we cannot meet all demands and would need to either curtail the water volumes delivered to member or use our less than ideal source (Canyon well) to make up the deficit. Establishing a quantity of water we can guarantee each member based on historical average usage an essential element of good management. This average number is referred to in the water business as an “ERU” (Equivalent Residential Usage) Once an ERU is defined, how we create and implement policies that secure that guaranteed minimum, when under stress, will need to be established. Our current situation highlights the need for this policy. It is the Board’s goal to have this work ready to present to all members at our next annual meeting. We request that any of you who has an interest in working on this to contact us. Your input is necessary for us to follow our members goals.
Any members who wish to be placed on a notification list for when we do need to turn on the Canyon Well this summer should contact Doug Dolstad at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 715-3805.
The Westside Water Association Board .
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