Buying or continuing to rent major equipment for future pipeline replacement and repair projects was a major topic during the Pine Cove Water District meeting last week.

Laying new pipeline, which the district did last summer, or replacing pipeline with PCWD employees is less expensive than contracting the work, General Manager Jerry Holldber told the directors. But doing the work with district staff requires using specialized equipment, such as an asphalt planer.

To lay the nearly 1 mile of pipeline last summer cost nearly $16,000 in equipment rentals, he told the board. Pipeline replacement projects will continue for several years into the future. For example, this summer, work is planned along Franklin, Forest Lake, Skyline and several other local roads. To rent this specialized equipment costs between $5,000 and $6,500 per month. The projects need about three months from start to finish.

“We need something different. It hurts to spend that much money,” Holldber told the board. “What if we buy the equipment?”

After speaking to several equipment dealers, Holldber learned that the equipment could be purchased with zero-interest loans for about $20,000 over a four-year period and a three-year deal would cost more. While this would cost more than annual rental fees, the district would have the equipment’s use for many years.

Discussing Holldber’s suggestion, the board asked him to develop a specific plan and proposal.
“We have a long-term plan for pipeline replacement that could continue to do work in perpetuity as long as the weather is good,” affirmed Board President Michael Esnard. “If the numbers work out, I think that it’s a good idea.”

Director Dee Eskew asked what the number-one con would be with the idea. “Just the amount of money. Maybe we don’t do  so much pipeline work,” responded Holldber.

Along with Director Robert Hewitt, Eskew agreed with Esnard that there will always be work to do. He concluded, “People are leaning positively toward it, pending further details.”

The board also approved an easement to run a pipeline across Joel and Oteal Palmer’s property. This will enable the district to install a fire hydrant on the Red Hill Truck Trail, extending water service to an area vulnerable to fires.

Director Joel Palmer excused himself from the meeting while his colleagues discussed the proposal with Holldber. Esnard stressed that this would benefit the community and the Palmers were receiving no monetary or other benefit from the district.

In other financial business, the board approved a resolution establishing a public hearing for June 11 on its $30-per-acre standby fee. Through the third quarter of the fiacal year, PCWD has received $510,000, about two-thirds of the expected revenue. Expenses have been about $585,000, or 70 percent of the budget. But additional property tax revenue and water revenue from two billing periods will be received in the final quarter of the fiscal year.

In water business, PCWD’s March production increased 132,000 gallons from 2013 to a total of 1.8 million gallons, slightly less than the February total.

For the three months since the beginning of the year, PCWD has produced 5.9 million gallons, which is 11 percent or 745,000 gallons less than the same period in 2013.