Well …. Winter is here. December, as promised has delivered cold rain, some snow and lots of ice!

It’s a good time for winterizing reminders:   Water expands when it freezes,  just ask an ice cube !  Water could freeze in the  pipe-lines of your home. A ready piece of insurance is to continue to drain your home water system, if you are away from home for more than a day or two.   There is no sense in inviting a problem.

Frequent question we receive:  Now that we have had a lot of rain are the drought restrictions set aside?   YES we have had some rain and NO the concerns about future water source availability have not appreciably changed.  The Water Company staff and the Board of Directors discussed this issue and feel that it is important that the Stage 2 measure of conservation remain.  The recent rain totals are exciting but we must think into the future and what the availability/demand will be during 2017 and after.  Water consump-tion by month and a comparison for the current year and the benchmark year of 2013 are on our website. You will notice that we are
using less than 2014 but more than 2015. Conservation shows and it is still OK.

The Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) report is on the website and I would encourage all to read it.  The Committee has been working long and hard on a number of items, the most important of which has to do with fair and equitable billing.  Currentlymost cus-tomers are billed on an annual basis and pay a flat fee. The fee includes the delivery of treated water and consumption. Others pay a base rate and a consumptive rate. The latter is based upon water use as reported by a meter.  Within the next 4 years, when our infra-structure improvements are complete and all customers are on a meter, the billing structure will change and all will receive a two-part bill showing a Base Rate Charge and a Consumptive or Use Charge.   This is a standard industry process.

In order to provide balance and structure to the consumption factor, the LRPC has   been tracking usage from metered customers, re-viewed past use experience and is in the process of developing a fair and equable baseline consumptive rate calculated in cubic feet. The use of cubic feet is yet another industry standard. (One cubic foot of water = 7.48gal)

What does all this mean?

The base or meter rate is designed to cover the majority of the water company’s “fixed costs.” These are the financial areas that provide and support the acquiring, processing and delivery of water. These costs vary little year to year and represent 85-90% of the over-all budget. The balance of the budget will be funded by the consumption or use rate.  The LRPC is also reviewing billing cycles. Currently there is a single, annual billing.   Explored options will include: bi-monthly,    quarterly and semi-annually.   We are looking at auto-payment using credit cards and any other method that maybe available. It’s important to remember that we have 2017 to work on the processing and billing systems. If you have any ideas, we’d love to hear them.    (There are NO bad ideas.)

We are in the last phase of the application to US Department of Agriculture for $12.2M to finish out the improvements to our overall infrastructure and complete the replacement of 1960-1980 pipelines system wide.Last month we mentioned that the water company had been approached with interest in renting space in our facility. In addition we are using a local realtor and will start a program to engage banks in Calaveras County to see if there is any interest.

Last month we mentioned that the monthly meetings of the Water Board were moving to the 3rdSaturday of the month. Since this conflicts with the Homeowner’s Board, we are moving the meetings back to the 2nd Saturday.   Again the meetings are held in the water company’s facility, in the old Rabobank.We have purchased a number of additional chairs and are looking forward to your attendance.

Finally … visit www.blsmwc.com for all that is happening with the water company.

More importantly enjoy a Happy and Safe Holiday !!

Bob Maginnis,