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East Quincy Services District board members and support staff try to hammer out the details of high-dollar items on the table at their Nov. 8 meeting. From left, consulting engineer Dan Bastian, Chairperson Kathy Felker, General Manager Mike Green, board members Mike Beatty, Bill Martin, John Kolb and Darrel Brown, and administrative assistant Vicki Poh. Photo by Mari Erin Roth

Water district board continues to work toward solutions on pressing issues

East Quincy Services District board members and support staff try to hammer out the details of high-dollar items on the table at their Nov. 8 meeting. From left, consulting engineer Dan Bastian, Chairperson Kathy Felker, General Manager Mike Green, board members Mike Beatty, Bill Martin, John Kolb and Darrel Brown, and administrative assistant Vicki Poh. Photo by Mari Erin Roth
East Quincy Services District board members and support staff try to hammer out the details of high-dollar items on the table at their Nov. 8 meeting. From left, consulting engineer Dan Bastian, Chairperson Kathy Felker, General Manager Mike Green, board members Mike Beatty, Bill Martin, John Kolb and Darrel Brown, and administrative assistant Vicki Poh. Photo by Mari Erin Roth

The need to replace aging water meters dominated the November meeting of the East Quincy Services District.

Many water meters are ready for replacement now General Manager Mike Green told the board. The brass models currently being used have many moving parts and cost about $168 each.

“The price of new technology radio-read meters is about the same, but the life span is twice as long,” explained Green. “There are no moving parts to wear out or break.”

Green described a capital expense project estimated to cost upwards of $438,000 to replace all existing meters and enable radio-read capabilities for the district.

The whole project described by Green included software and leak detection capabilies he estimated to result in a cost savings that would essentially enable the system to pay for itself in 16 years time.

After considering the project, the board realized something.

The new “no moving part” meters could be used in the same way the current meters were being used without the added software or radio-read features.

With the price the same as the current brass models and twice the lifetime, the new electronic meters could replace current meters and make the district ready for change with no initial additional costs incurred.

The meters without software would require the same manpower to drive around to get meter readings as their current brass counterparts, but they would still last longer. “We plan to do the installations ourselves anyway,” said Green.

When the district has the money to buy the software to activate the radio-read capability, the system can be brought online with however many or few meters have been installed. It’s not an all or nothing proposition.

With a 20-year versus 10-year life expectancy, the whole system would likely be changed out within 10 years any way if only broken meters were replaced. In this way, the project could move forward without any additional cost to the district.

All that would remain is to buy and implement the software. “Generally labor is 75 percent of a system change over,” pointed out board member John Kolb, who appreciated Green’s initiative to handle the install in-house.

Grant money may be available for the project and board members offered their ideas on how to best present the case for grand funding. With many professionals in related fields of construction, engineering, and alternative energy on the board, many insightful suggestions were presented.

Requiring no action to begin making the switch as old brass meters need to be replaced, the board supported Green in making the changeover as needed; no motion or vote was taken by the board.

Consolidation

While updating the board on the consolidation sub-committee activities, Kathy Felker reported that revising an agreement regarding joint powers of the two districts moved to the top of the priority list. Before moving any further the committee decided an attorney’s advice would be sought to revise and/or create a new document to guide the districts through the consolidation process.

“We are seeking the advice of an attorney to attend out next meeting to provide input on the direction and cost of creating a new document,” said Felker. The committee expects that costs for creating the document to articulate the consolidation will be shared by both districts.

A formal, legally binding agreement is needed to enable the two districts to officially share financial responsibility for loans needed to cover the construction costs of a new wastewater treatment plant.

The Joint Powers Authority is made up of members of each district’s board and was set up as a governing power over the two districts, but that power was never enacted. The districts hope to empower the Joint Powers Authority to simplify the process of loan signing for the wastewater treatment plant construction.

The subcommittee hopes the attorney will attend the December meeting. “It was great to realize everyone was on the same page,” said board member Mike Beatty.

Capital expenses

Dan Bastian of Bastian Engineering broke down capital expenditures anticipated for the district. “With this all laid out item by item we will be freed of having to rehash all these details over and over,” said Bastian, “and that will be a big help.”

The tables Bastian presented included estimated costs of every capital expense the board and staff projected over a decade. This will enable the board to be better informed in making spending decisions.

Local bank chosen

After collecting information for a couple of months, East Quincy Services District voted to switch its banking to Plumas Bank as a result of the vacancy left by departing Bank of America.

Water usage down

Water production totals show that water district customers reduced usage by 21 percent since 2013, with 6 percent this year without regulations in place to mandate further reduction.

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