PAWSD gets more accurate water loss data


By Lindsey Bright

Staff Writer

As the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District continues to install more accurate meters at water treatment facilities, totals for the water produced and water lost each month are more accurate.

During Tuesday afternoon’s PAWSD board of directors’ meeting, the directors looked at the gallons of water being produced both at Hatcher and Snowball.

At Hatcher, in the time since new meters were installed and monitored, Nov. 6-8, the plant produced 174,000 gallons of water, with 124,310 gallons sold — a loss of 49,690 gallons in the three-day period.

The Snowball treatment plant, which has one meter left to be installed, produced 10,951,611 gallons of water, with 7,697,100 sold between Sept. 29 and Oct. 28, making for a monthly loss of 3,254,511 gallons of water.

PAWSD District Manager Ed Winton said one area of water loss was discovered when PAWSD and Bartlett and West engineers, “shot elevations.” During the process, engineers realized the Reservoir Hill and Cemetery water tanks are not at the same elevation, as had been thought — there is a 38-inch disparity. Since the two tanks work together, when one is being filled, instead of filling completely, it fills part way and the other tank overflows.

Director Roy Vega asked how much of the overall water loss can be attributed to the tank overflowing.

Winton said he could not answer that, but did say that just fixing the tanks would not solve the overall water loss problem.

By the next regular meeting in December, all the new water meters should be installed at the treatment plants, which should provide accurate monthly numbers.

At the meeting, PAWSD also held a public hearing for amendment of the 2012 budget and consideration for the proposed 2013 budget.

Business Manager Shellie Peterson went over the major changes in both the amended and projected budgets.

The major changes for the 2012 amended budget were: vehicle maintenance costs were increased because of tire replacement, training costs increased, administrative salaries increased by $4,000 to reflect Winton and Special Project Manager Renee Lewis’ raises, and utility costs have been updated using current numbers.

The beginning balance in the amended 2012 budget General fund is $1,727,702, with an ending balance of $1,515,868. The total revenue is $1,044,102. Total expenditures are budgeted at $1,255,936.

The biggest amendment is under the bonds proceeds 2002/2003 refunding, which went from zero to $9,887,073. Peterson explained that, over five years, this bond refunding should save PAWSD customers $868,000. Also, the capital projects line item has been amended to $1,757,083 because the San Juan Water Treatment updates have been pushed out to next year.

For the 2013 projected budget, property, liability and building contents insurance was increased by $4,300; vehicle maintenance was increased to $2,760; utility costs were raised by 12 percent to reflect La Plata Electric Association increases; items were added to the capital budget for an allowance to correct the excess air problem at the Vista Wastewater Treatment Plant, as well as an allowance of $17,000 to replace starters at the San Juan River pump station.

The beginning balance for the 2013 proposed budget is $1,515,868, with an ending balance of $1,178,415. Total revenue is projected at $993,490. Total expenditures is $1,330,943. In the Water Enterprise Fund, the beginning balance is projected to be $7,243,754, with an ending balance of $4,160,266, which is a 43-percent decrease from last year. Peterson explained that this does not reflect a decrease in the PAWSD rate collection. In the Wastewater Enterprise Fund, the beginning balance is projected to be $3,213,733, with an ending balance of $596,421. Peterson explained that this includes the payment for the joint Town-to-Vista Wastewater treatment project, which the Town of Pagosa Springs will not begin paying back until a year after completion.

The board of directors will review the budget more thoroughly in a Nov. 27 work session at 2 p.m. at PAWSD offices.

Also discussed at the meeting:

Director Vega made a motion to waive late fees and interest on accounts certifiable this year. The motion passed unanimously.

The Vista Wastewater Treatment Facility and recently built greenhouse, which has been causing some smell problems, was discussed. Art Dilione, an engineer with Bartlett and West, explained that two problems are causing the smell: too much liquid in the sludge and letting the sludge sit for too long, until it turns septic. To prevent this, the digester must be run more effectively, using less air. Bartlett and West will work on a design to solve the problem.

At the end-of-month work session, along with the proposed 2013 budget, the board will also discuss a revised and updated drought-management plan.