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Summer 2013 Newsletter

Welcome to Vista Vu Water Users Association's newsletter. Our purpose is to keep you informed about important activities and projects that your Board of Trustees is undertaking on your behalf.

Irrigation Water Use

Last year we completed the installation of orifice plates in all the irrigation take-offs from the Vista Vu mainlines. These orifices were sized to deliver your water right and no more. But as we gain experience operating the system with orifices in place, we are learning that they only work if members operate their sprinklers in a way they were designed according to each individual's water right. Running larger heads than recommended, or more lines than your right allows will result in using more than your water right of 8.47 gallons per minute per acre. For most conditions purple nozzles deliver enough water to keep pastures and lawns green. (Click on the "Sprinkler Specifications" link on the left side of this page for more details about how many of which kind of nozzles you can run and stay within your water right.)

Reducing Excessive Use

This season we are pumping far more water than we can sustain. If we cannot reduce usage we run the risk of exhausting our water right before the normal shut-down date in October. The remedies are twofold: Voluntarily limit the number and size of sprinklers running at any point in time to what your water right allows; or, we must install an orifice plate that will deliver your water right and only your water right, however many lines and sprinklers you run. If we do the latter, you'll see a pressure drop and reduced flow compared with what you are used to. (We have learned that all of Okanogan Irrigation District's customers' orifice plates were sized to achieve this effect; that is, as if there were an open pipe with no restrictions downstream of the orifice.)

Monitoring Actual Flows

Starting with the largest users, we have begun running spot checks of actual water flows using readings from the main meter in the irrigation pump-house. We have found instances where actual use exceeded the member's water right by almost 60%! These practices must stop, regardless of who's at fault. Not only are we wasting water, we are paying a high price for pumping it. (Our irrigation power bill for July exceeded $4,000 - a record amount for any July for which we have power use information!)

Good News on our Arsenic Removal Media

As a result of several factors, our arsenic removal media life has been extended significantly. Since replacing the media is our biggest single operating expense, extending its life represents a major financial savings to us. This has been accomplished by adding chlorine to the water flowing into the arsenic removal system; by reducing water demand by almost 40% since the tiered rate system was adopted this year; and, by blending raw well-water with treated water, while maintaining healthful levels of arsenic in the water you drink and cook with. Careful daily monitoring of chlorine levels by Trustee Dean Harrison and Vice President Doug Marsh has been critical to this success.

Since we began chlorination at the end of last October, we have seen arsenic levels drop from more than 17 parts per billion (ppb) to 1 ppb last month. The lower this number, the more raw well-water we can blend with the treated water, further extending media life.

Mosquito Control District

The City of Omak and Okanogan County officials are considering formation of a special taxing district for the control of mosquitos. This week's Chronicle has an extensive article on the subject. "Control" in this case goes beyond spraying insecticides and includes use of biological agents such as BT, and breeding area management practices such as removal of standing water pools; insecticides would be used as a last resort.
Your Secretary/Treasurer has been informally approached to gage the level of support that creation of such a district might receive from our membership. The anticipated cost to homeowners would be somewhere between 10 and 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. (For a $150,000 home this would be between $15 to $25 per year.) The boundaries of special district are still under consideration. Only the area within the district boundaries would receive the benefits of mosquito control measures.

Would you support formation of such a district or not? Please drop an email to Bob Goodwin, or call him at 322-3604 letting him know your views.

Bob Goodwin
Vista Vu Water Users Association

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For further information contact: Stu Skidmore, President; Doug Marsh, Vice President;
Bob Goodwin
, Secretary/Treasurer; Jack Crane, Trustee; or, Dean Harrison, Trustee.

We welcome your comments on the website.