Last July, the Board decided to invoice members for their Association homeowner dues and security patrol dues every two months, rather than in a lump sum in July, as was done in the past. However, these dues were not invoiced when bills were sent out in late July 2016, as the transition to billing these dues every two months had not yet been approved by the membership. Thus, an extra set of dues will be invoiced with the May billing cycle so that there will be a total of $80 assessed for homeowner dues and $48 for security patrol dues for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2017. Your homeowner dues in May will be $26.68 and security patrol dues will be $16, twice what they were in prior bills this fiscal year. The Association apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause members.
We also ask those who drop off their payments at the Association Office or mail their payments to the Association to send their payments directly to Sallal. Their address is Sallal Water Association, P.O. Box 378, North Bend, WA 98045. In addition to providing water to Wilderness Rim, Sallal also is responsible for member billings and payments.
Based on water meter readings in recent years, the amount of water lost in our water system between where the water enters the Rim and where it reaches homeowner water meters has been calculated as high as 17%. Several factors could account for this loss, including flushing of fire hydrants, use of water by street sweepers, broken or faulty meters, and broken pipes. To get a better idea of water loss, Association volunteers and Sallal Water Association (Sallal) employees read meters on March 18 and April 1 to get a better idea of water loss over a short period of time. Based on the survey, estimated water loss was about 25%. To help determine where water leakage may be occurring, a leakage study will be done by Utility Services Associates and our water system operator in June (tentatively June 5-9). There may be some traffic diversions and short-term water shut-offs during the study period.
During the March 2017 billing, several members were alarmed to have received very high water bills. With the help of leakage detection services, customers found their sources of water leaks (usually broken pipes, perhaps resulting from the cold weather) and fixed them. A common question members keep asking is: How does my water use compare to other members’ water use?
On average, members use about 1,100 cubic feet of water every 2 months. A cubic foot is equal to about 7.5 gallons. The 20% of members that use the least amount of water use up to about 500 cubic feet per billing period (two months). The next 20% use about 500 to 750 cubic feet. The middle 20% use about 750 to 1000 cubic feet. The next 20% use about 1000 to 1200 cubic feet. And, the top 20% of water users use about 1200 to 3000 cubic feet per two months. Top water users often include those with broken pipes or leaky toilets. In general, water use is also higher during the summer than during the winter. If you would like to see how your water use this year compares to last year, go to the Association’s payment website at https://wra.secure.munibilling.com. If you haven’t done so already, you will need to set up a user name and password to use the site.
If you think your water use is high, turn off all the water in your house, and then check your water meter (located in a black box near the street and usually between your house and your neighbor’s house) to see if the meter is still showing water use (look to see if the small silver “wheel” is rotating). If so, you probably have a leak. Contact the Office (425-888-0087) and they will give you tips to help you find your leak. If it makes you feel any better, a 2015 article in the Seattle Times noted that the average family of four in Seattle uses about 1,600 cubic feet per two-month period and paid $110 for water for that period.
Wilderness Rim Association (WRA) purchases its water from Sallal Water Association (Sallal). In 2016, WRA paid Sallal about $11,125 per month for water. Sallal recently notified the WRA Board of Trustees (Board) that Sallal was increasing the monthly fee to $13,855 per month, or nearly 25%. Sallal stated that the increase reflects rising costs since the last rate update in 2011, as well as a one-time adjustment for the cost of hiring a new field operator. On January 18, the Board met and passed a motion to increase the Base water rate from $36 to $44.82 beginning at the end of March to cover the cost of the wholesale water rate increase. The Base rate covers water usage from 0 to 200 cubic feet per billing period, which means that all residents will pay the increased fee, regardless of total water use. The fees for water use above this rate will remain the same. For water rates, see “WRA Water Rate and Fee Schedules” at https://wildernessrim.org/legal.
UPDATE: (11/14/2016) The water leakage detection project, proposed for November 14-17, has been postponed. The Board of Trustees would like to gather additional data and work with Sallal and our Water System Operator to better determine the extent of water leakage in the Rim, and the factors contributing to water leakage, before deciding whether to conduct the project as proposed, or modify or terminate the project. We hope to have a decision in the next few months. Thank you for your patience.
The Department of Health (DOH) requires that small water utilities perform a leak detection exercise annually, and the board submitted the report in September. Because the estimated leak percentage was high (13%), and because the previous reports listed the value at 0%, the board decided to contract the services of Utility Services Associates to survey our water system for leaks. This was partly to pre-empt the DOH scrutiny for the disparity in our reports over the last few years and to ascertain the leak potential of the system to ensure we are not wasting water – and our community’s money.
Starting on November 14th, and running for 4 days, a technician from the service company will be conducting the survey with our water system operator. You may see and hear the truck around our neighborhood as they conduct the survey which involves listening to all pipe appurtenances, including each meter, at various locations around the system.
Thank you in advance for your patience, and if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact the board at firstname.lastname@example.org.