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Summer 2012 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.

Domestic Water Sale Falls Through

AUSA Bar, the Bridgeport developer who had an option to purchase an acre foot of domestic water from us and had expressed interest in another 9 acre feet, has informed us that they will not be needing our water after all. They have forfeited their $1,000 earnest money which has covered all but $100 of our cost to prove "connectivity" with the Okanogan River - a precondition for transferring any of our domestic well water.
Your Board of Trustees is pursuing other potential buyers. Anyone with a well connected to the Okanogan or Columbia Rivers located downstream of us would be eligible to buy our water for domestic use.

Domestic Water Metering Nears Completion

All the remaining meter parts and materials have been ordered and will be installed on the lines serving the Elsbree, Oestreich, Stenberg, Vanderstoep, Shove and Marsh households in the next few weeks. Already we have been able to detect and repair some serious leaks that were wasting significant amounts of water. Our costs to produce water have increased considerably since we completed our domestic system expansion and arsenic removal projects last year. Water conservation is not only required by the Department of Health; it is essential for our continued financial health.

Ways we waste water

Garden watering
We provide irrigation water for crops, lawns and vegetable gardens. Using domestic water for these purposes is not allowed. A garden hose running a sprinkler uses 300-400 gallons of water per hour - enough to serve the daily domestic needs of an entire household!

Leaking faucets and toilet tanks
These may not sound like much, but they are occurring 24/7, 365 days a year and add up to very large volumes of water.

What's our water cost?

Since the arsenic removal system went on line July 20, 2011, we have pumped over 3.2 million gallons of water. By the end of one year this number will have reached 4 million gallons. Our annual budget for domestic water is $26,000; that's 6.5 cents per 1000 gals. Actual costs will probably be higher because our arsenic removal media has not lasted as long as we'd expected and will need to be replaced earlier. (See below)

How much water do we each use?

While only 16 of our 22 connections have been metered, we do have some good data on how we're using water. The table below shows what each household was using in mid-June. (Names are omitted to protect privacy.)

Household ID No Useage (gals/day)
1 1,164

Fifty percent of households used less than 267 gals/day; fifty percent more. Differences can be attributed to stock watering, hot tubs, family size, as well as personal conservation habits. Under discussion by your Board of Trustees is a goal to reduce consumption wherever possible to 250 gals/day per household. The most effective way to achieve this goal is to impose a surcharge on use over 250 gals/day.
No final decision has been made about either the goal or the way to achieve it. However, you can expect to see some changes in the way we price water once all the meters are functional.

2 850
3 822
4 789
5 381
6 296
7 294
8 269
9 266
Total 6,189
Mean 387
Median 267

Arsenic Removal System Problems

Because of an engineering oversight a critical automatic valve was not installed in the plumbing of the arsenic removal units. As a result, during periodic back-flushing cycles, excessive volumes of treated water passed through the tanks where special media adsorbs arsenic. We believe this contributed to shortening the life of the media in ways we don't fully understand.
The equipment manufacturer has given us the electric valve plus installation costs, and discussions are underway to determine if our fears about media life are justified.
In addition, we may have to install a chlorine injection system to help the media adsorb more arsenic. (There are actually two kinds of arsenic in our water, only one of which is effectively removed by the media. Adding chlorine changes the kind that doesn't adsorb well into the kind that does.)
There are other measures we can take to improve the system's performance and we are working with our engineer and the equipment manufacturer to get a better handle on what will work best and be cost-effective.

Irrigation Improvements Work Flawlessly

Halfway through the second year since being installed, our VFD controlling our main 250 hp pump is again saving money and preventing headaches for the Board members who run it. We have produced a checklist for start-up and shut-down that we'll be using to train people to operate the system. As a start, all Board members will be trained so that we have some staffing redundancy. Association members with an interest in learning how the system works will also receive training.

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; Mike Stenberg, Trustee; or, Dean Harrison, Trustee.

We welcome your comments on the website.