Despite below normal rainfall the past year and the bleak weather forecast for winter, Pine Cove Water District General Manager Jerry Holldber remains comfortable with the district’s current water supply and confident with its ability to meet demands.
At the Jan. 8 board meeting, Holldber reported that the district’s water supplies remained in good condition through December.
“The wells are doing good. The [groundwater level] of well No. 10 did not change from last month,” he told the board. “I don’t see it going up with no water going in the ground.”
When Director Robert Hewitt asked about the current water situation, Holldber replied, “Pine Cove is no different than anywhere else. There’s no snow pack and very little rain. But I feel comfortable but guarded in our supplies and I’m confident in our customers. If we eventually need a Stage 1, the people in Pine Cove will be right there with us.”
As a precaution, Holldber said he plans to use the treatment plant for the district’s Dutch Flat wells soon. This will spread the water supply over more of PCWD’s wells.
“This will disperse the demand and no one else will be impacted,” he explained. During normal rain years, these wells might not be used until late spring or summer.
In response to an inquiry from the public about sharing water with other districts, Holldber responded, “… we want to cooperate and help; but I don’t want to jeopardize what the people of Pine Cove paid for and then trusted me with.”
“Given the drought in the state, we’re grateful for the foresight to have the treatment plant and the southern [district] wells,” noted board President Michael Esnard.
During December, Pine Cove customers used 2.2 million gallons of water, which were 338,000 gallons (17.8 percent) more than December 2012. “I don’t know of any particular reason other than it’s been drier than normal,” Holldber said.
Total consumption in 2013 was nearly 32 million gallons, a nearly 2.6-percent increase from 2012, which was 31.2 million gallons. This was the first increase in annual usage since 2006, when consumption totaled 39.3 million gallons. Still, the 2013 level is an 18.6-percent usage reduction over those seven years.
If the drought continues, Holldber indicated that he would bring more information back to the board regarding the district’s water supplies.
Holldber also reported the cost of pipeline installation using employees along Highway 243 this past fall. The total cost was $73,346, which includes $16,131 when it crossed the highway. This amounts to about $65 per linear foot. “Other districts have paid about $105 to $150 per foot,” he said, when asked to compare it to using contractors.
Jeff Smith, a public member, thanked the board for this work, which improves fire protection in the area and encouraged them to go further north. The board still hopes to schedule a meeting with Stonewood residents about water supplies.
In financial business, after half the fiscal year (July 1 through Dec. 30), PCWD’s expenses have exceeded revenue by about $85,000. However, much of the difference was the materials for the pipeline installations, which were funded with federal loan money. Besides paying insurance expenses all at the beginning of the year, another significant expense, which was unexpected, was the purchase of the lot.
“Nothing surprises me in the budget summary,” Holldber said. “Expenses are more because of mainline project, lump sum insurance payment.” While expenses will decline during the rest of the year, revenues will grow faster because through six months PCWD has only received a third of its property tax receipts.
One casualty of the tight budget will be the annual customer appreciation day. In 2014 the board will forgo this event, it was announced.