Domestic Water Improvement District

MISSION STATEMENT (1)

  • To serve the Diamond Valley Community’s best interest within the guidelines of managing a public water utility.
  • To sustain responsible, professional, businesslike, educated, and ethical practices in representation of the Diamond Valley Community’s water needs.
  • To provide for fiduciary responsibility and oversight of the water utility.
  • To support and facilitate Board teamwork through dedication, cooperation, communication, participation, and preparation.

Diamond Valley Water District’s (the District) number one responsibility and fiduciary duty is to provide safe drinking water to the Diamond Valley Community.

The District is a distribution system only, does not treat or produce water and provides water purchased from Prescott Valley.  The system consists of “pipes, pumps, and other conveyances” (such as storage tanks, p.30) “that propel water to customers’ taps.” (p.12) (2)   Prescott Valley provides finished (treated) water through a master meter to the District (p. 7). (2)

In 1990 all 9-wells used by the Shamrock Water Company (privately owned by the Fain family) were abandoned.  A contract was “restated and amended” between Shamrock Water Company and Diamond Valley Water User’s Corporation, with Prescott Valley, to provide water for the Diamond Valley Community on December 3, 1996. (3) Prescott Valley continued the contract with the District without an update or amendment when the District became an entity on December 20, 2006 and the assets were officially turned over to the District on September 3, 2008 by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).  (4)

According to A Drop of Knowledge “Water systems are moving toward ‘sustainability’… This includes doing more planning, thinking about the long-term, and finding ways to be more self-reliant. In the coming years, our nation’s drinking water systems will face unprecedented challenges: water shortages, aging infrastructure, an aging workforce, and lack of funding, to name the most obvious issues.” (p. 2) (2)

Diamond Valley Water District (the District) is already facing these challenges.  According to RCAC Technical Management Financial Capacity Assessment, water losses that exceed 15% fall under the deficient category. (5a) The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) reports that small district’s standard for unaccounted-for water (water loss) is 15% and large district’s standard is 10%.(p.92) (5b) The analysis reports from the RVS Utility Billing System (6) show an average of water pumped per month by the District to be 3,046,311 gallons, the average sold to customers per month by the District averages 1,854,145 gallons and the average loss per month averages 1,192,166 gallons.  This is an average of 39.1%. (p. 2) (7)

The District cannot continue to simply patch and repair the aging system, which results in continued yearly water rate increases that would in due course exceed the proposed increases currently being considered and then be faced with reporting to the community that the system requires urgent replacement. If increased rates need to occur now it is important that it be used for an underground replacement system, not to cover the ever increasing emergency repairs and the continuing water loss.  At some point in the future the system is unsustainable (can’t be repaired) and will fail completely and the community could be without water for a significant period of time. There is also a possibility that at some point, Prescott Valley will consider discontinuing service to Diamond Valley because of the unaddressed massive water loss. Fines could also be imposed by governmental regulatory agencies because the continued water loss is not being properly addressed.  The District has already instituted a concerted plan to identify illegal/unmetered connections and replace aged and inaccurate meters.  This effort has not significantly decreased the excessive water loss.

The District’s Operator/Manager has applied to WIFA (Water Infrastructure Finance Authority) of Arizona (8) to be placed on the project priority list.  Once WIFA has approved placing the District on the priority list, the District will move forward in the application process for the estimated $5.1 million needed to replace the underground infrastructure.  According to the Operator/Manager the water loss exceeded 800,000 gallons without a break in the pipes during the month of January 2014.  The recent Engineer’s Rate Analysis estimates that 166,900 gallons of water is lost through the meters (inaccurate meters or illegal/unmetered connections) and the rest of the 1,192,166 gallons is lost through leaks (about 1,025,300 gallons). (7)  The high water loss during a month without a break in one of the lines would indicate the probability of seepages throughout the water lines themselves.

The proposed project to replace the underground distribution system, once a loan is approved, would include water mains, active service lines, lot stub outs (definition: available service requiring only meter hook-up), air relief valves, blow off valves, isolation valves, and “radio” or  automated meter reading (AMR) meters.  Once the new infrastructure is in place the water loss and emergency system repairs, which precipitate the system wide shut offs will decrease to well within the best management practices supported by ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality), Prescott Valley, Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition (UVRWPC), etc.  Until the system is able to sustain a ≤15% water loss, the District will remain under those agencies’ scrutiny.  Also during the replacement project construction process, emergency repairs become the responsibility of the contractor.  The District will no longer bear the cost of emergency repairs.

As reported in the letter dated 9/28/09, written by Tetra Tech, “the following protocol is required for the water provider:  1) shut off the broken line, 2) drain the broken pipe, 3) make the repair, 4) super-chlorinate (disinfect) the repaired line, 5) flush the super-chlorinated water from the repaired line, and 6) turn on the repaired water line for service.” (p.2) (9) “In order to minimize the amount of water lost during an emergency repair, the water provider will locate the nearest isolation valve and close it to shut off the broken waterline. The Diamond Valley water system has relatively few isolation valves existing in the system. Therefore, in order to shut off the broken waterline, large portions of the system must be shut off to make repairs. Then the large portion of the system must be drained, filled with super-chlorinated water, and then flushed in order to return to service. The process of making a repair with minimal isolation valves can take enormous amounts of water.”(p.2) (9)  Tetra Tech recommended the installation of isolation valves every 500 feet to ensure maximum closure at one time is limited in order to minimize downtime and water losses.(p.2,3)  (9)

Because the system was so antiquated, even at that time, the District did not consider it feasible or cost effective to install isolation valves in the aging system without appropriate upgrades or replacement.

While the District well understands the hardship that a significant increase in water rates would cause the community, it is felt that there is no other solution to the deteriorating condition of the water distribution system.  Since the current aging distribution system has been consistently losing/leaking 700,000 to 1,000,000 gallons per month with the main line breaks and sometimes no breaks, each water user (approximately 700 users) in the community is paying extra each month for 700 to 1,400 gallons they never used.

If the District keeps with its numerous on-going emergency repairs to the current aging infrastructure, the community’ s rates will continue increasing and the outcome will be unsustainable while not producing safe drinking water for the community.  The District’s fiduciary duty is to provide the most equitable options for consideration for the next fiscal year budget and rate structure, which is set for approval at an Open Public Session following the 5/26/14 Public Hearing and, in order to achieve the goal of replacing the underground infrastructure.

(1)  Diamond Valley Water District (an Arizona Domestic Water Improvement District), BOARD BY- LAWS, ARTICLE II. PURPOSE and MISSION

(2)  A Drop of Knowledge, The Non-operator’s Guide to Drinking Water Systems, RCAP, ©2011

(3) 12/3/1996 Water Agreement Contract between Shamrock Water Company and Diamond Valley Water Users Corporation (DVWUC)

(4)  Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) Order & Opinion docket # W-03262A-07-0244 recorded

11/16/2007 and ACC Order and Opinion docket # W-03263A-07-0244 recorded 9/3/2008

 (5a) Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), training completed on 2/17/2014-Technical Management Financial Capacity Assessment

(5b) Control and Mitigation of Drinking Water Losses in Distribution, Unaccounted-for Water, page 92, Table A-2, www.epa.gov/ ,

(6)  RVS Utility Billing System, http://www.rvssoftware.com/, a collection of programs designed to aid bookkeepers, operators, managers and auditors of small utilities. Designed by communities with a customer base between 100-20,000 users.

 (7)  Diamond Valley Water District Rate Analysis, Kal Miller, P.E., 2.18.2014

(8) Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA), www.azwifa.gov

(9)  District Record, Letter9.28.09.pdf, Tanner D. Henry, PE, Civil Engineer, Tetra Tech

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