March 1, 2020
To Our Utility Customers,
We hope this late-winter letter and enclosed materials find you well.
The goal of the Teton Water and Sewer Company (the “Company”) has always been to keep our customers informed, in advance when possible, regarding items related to the Utility. Therefore, this informational piece.
Teton Springs, like Teton Valley, has experienced a steady incremental growth of new homes, as well as significantly greater use of existing homes, residences and commercial buildings in the last few years. With that growth, we have seen increases in both the overall demand on the water and sewer systems as well as seasonal changes and increases in minor repairs.
Over the years, we have monitored these changes and taken proactive steps to deal with them in order to continue to provide the highest quality water and sewer service possible.
In 2019, demand, specifically water demand, increased significantly over prior years. Although not entirely unexpected, the growth in demand was enough to have the Company accelerate our timeline for a few projects. These projects are designed to assure our customers that they will receive the services they expect well into the future.
What follows is information on foreseeable items for 2020, including two proactive projects we plan on implementing over the coming year – 1) drilling a 3rd well, and 2) initiating a metering program. Hopefully, the information provided in the enclosed Q&A sections will answer most of your questions on these items.
Also enclosed you will find our Annual Consumer Confidence Report.
As always, please feel free to contact our office at any time with questions.
Teton Water and Sewer Company
Office (208) 354-0256
E-Mail: [email protected]
Sewer – Possible rate change for 2020
We have been informed by the City of Victor that they are considering another sewer rate increase this year. Although the amount and timing are unknown at this time, this would make the 4th increase since 2016.
As you may recall, in September of 2018, Victor raised their rates. That increase necessitated a rate increase to the residents of Teton Springs which was implemented in the 1st quarter of 2019.
For those of you relatively new to Teton Springs, although we are outside of the City of Victor and you, as users, are not charged directly by the City for sewer (or water usage), their rates affect the rates that our Company charges.
We will keep you informed as to any 2020 Victor sewer rate increase when we know more.
Other than on-going maintenance, we foresee no major sewer-related projects for 2020.
Water Projects – Planned for 2020
With the aforementioned growth in demand on the water system, the Company plans to embark on 2 substantial projects this year. Both projects are meant to be proactive in nature, both from a reliable water source and water conservation standpoint:
- We plan on drilling a 3rd domestic water well for your drinking water to augment the two wells currently in use.
- We plan on initiating a water metering program.
Although both of these projects have been considered for a number of years, it is the growth in demand of the past year that has accelerated our timeline and decision to commence these projects this year.
Water System – Questions & Answers
A quick background on our water system might be beneficial, especially for those of you relatively new to Teton Springs. Following are some of the most common questions we get from homeowners within the Community:
Where does our Domestic Water (aka Drinking Water) Come From?
Our drinking water comes from two deep wells, both over 800 feet in depth and both drilled in the early 2000’s. One well is located near the old Rammell barn and the other is at the southwest forest boundary. The water is pumped to a steel tank on the hill to the south where it flows by gravity to the community.
Who owns the Water Rights to the Domestic Water?
Teton Water and Sewer Company (the “Company”) owns the Water Rights. These are granted by license from the State of Idaho.
Is there “Unlimited” Domestic Water available to the Community?
Unfortunately not. The Company has a limited and finite amount of Water Rights. Essentially, we are able to generate up to 500 Gallons per Minute (gpm ). This is the total amount of water we are allowed to produce from the wells at any one time. This is regardless of the number of wells in use.
Though limited, with basic conservation measures in place, these Water Rights should be sufficient to meet the long-term needs of the Community, even as it continues to grow. That said, it will be important to manage and conserve the water to make sure that it is not lost or wasted. Obviously, this is the responsible and prudent thing to do.
What is the difference between Domestic Water and Irrigation Water?
The Domestic or Drinking Water is provided by our Company and is solely for what is termed “Domestic” use. Essentially, for use within the home and for such minor ancillary outdoor items such as washing cars, etc.
Per the Master Declaration of Covenants, the Irrigation Water, is provided by the owner of the golf club and comes from their Water Rights as members of Trail Creek Irrigation. Users are billed by the HOA. This water is for irrigation purposes for yards, landscaping, common areas, the golf course, etc.
Also, per the Master Declaration of Covenants, and further refined by the Declarant and the Utility Company, the exception to the above is for homes in Mountain Meadows.
3rd Well – Questions & Answers
Why is the Company drilling a 3rd well?
There are two reasons. First, as mentioned, although we currently have 2 wells, they produce a combined total of only 335 gpm. Of this total, one of the wells produces about 275 gpm, the other, 60 gpm. The new well, if it meets our goals, will allow us to produce the full amount of water for which we have the Water Rights, up to 500 gpm.
Second, it is important to have “Redundancy” in a water supply. By this we mean, in the event one water source were to be “off-line” for any reason such as service or maintenance, there is a second source capable of supplying water to meet demand.
Our system was designed with this redundancy; however, the second well does not supply an adequate volume of water to achieve it. Currently, if our primary well were off-line during highest demand during the summer months, we would not have adequate production to satisfy the water demand. With the new well, this will help alleviate this concern and provide us with the redundancy desired to provide an uninterrupted water supply.
Where will the new well be located?
The well has been permitted and designed to be drilled on the southern border of Teton Springs, near the fence and walking path at the edge of the property and immediately south of Blackfoot Trail. The location has been staked for the last year. As of this writing, we are reviewing this location and, if it is determined that a different location has a better chance of providing the volume of water necessary, we will consider it. Unfortunately, until a well is drilled, there is no guarantee that it will meet our production requirements.
When will the well drilling begin and how long will it take?
We anticipate drilling to begin in April. Timing depends on the driller’s schedule. We are planning to have the well on-line for summer use; however, the uncertainties associated with drilling through unknown geological formations and completion of well-associated infrastructure means the timeline cannot be precisely known.
We intend for the new well to provide the full 500 gpm that we are allowed under our Water Rights. It cannot be known until the well is drilled whether it is capable of that level of production. If the chosen location does not generate at or near this volume of water, we will re-evaluate the location.
Again, our goal is to plan for the future of our water source for Teton Springs. We want to have a high level of assurance that this well will produce a high quality, high volume water source for
decades to come.
Metering Project – Questions & Answers
Water conservation is not only the smart thing to do……it is the responsible thing to do.
Admittedly, our Company has not focused on water conservation as diligently as it could have, or should have, in the past. The Teton Springs community had ample water, given the relatively low demand, even during summer months. With the water use increase experienced over the past year, however, and with the projected increase in demand in the future, conservation efforts must become a priority.
It is the responsibility of everyone to conserve the valuable resource that is water. It is the Company’s responsibility to plan for the future for our available water, therefore, the implementation of a metering program for the Community.
What is a Metering Program?
Quite simply, a metering program involves having meters installed on all sources of water production and usage. The goal is to measure how much water is being produced vs. used, as well as where and how the water is being used. The meters are read and monitored at frequent intervals for various reasons. Most communities use this information for both conservation and billing purposes.
What are “Various” reasons for Metering other than Billing?
Other than for billing purposes, metering serves a valuable purpose…..water conservation. Specifically, metering throughout a system is critical to identifying waste, water loss or theft.. Conservation efforts involve three distinct areas; 1) We as users conserving and not wasting water, 2) Making sure water is not lost through leaks , and 3) Making sure water is not being diverted for unauthorized use or stolen.
When an effective meter system is implemented, the Company is able to effectively measure the water produced and subtract the water used as measured by meters. The resulting difference is water lost through other means. From there, it is only a matter of identifying where the loss is occurring and taking corrective action.
What Metering is currently in place within Teton Springs?
In early 2006, water metering was originally introduced. It was known at that time, at some point in the future, water conservation efforts and a full metering program would be required to monitor and manage the water system. It was also assumed that, at some point, a metered billing system would be put in place.
Homes which were built after the spring of 2006 were required to have meters installed as part of construction. Most of those homes had the meters installed in the basements or “crawl-spaces” of the homes. After 2012, most of the homes (not all), had the meters installed in “pits” outside and in the front of the home. For those homes with the meters in the crawl space, reading equipment would have been installed by wire from the meter to the exterior of the home.
In addition, the wells and most of the commercial buildings within the Community have meters installed.
Are the Meters currently read or monitored?
Although the well meters are read, with reporting required to the State of Idaho, the meters for the homes and buildings have not been read or monitored over time.
When will the Metering Program begin and how long will it take?
We anticipate beginning the program in May of 2020. Given the cost and complexities, the program will probably take 3-5 years to complete.
How will the Metering Program be Implemented?
Implementation will begin with communication from the Company to the homeowner to schedule an appointment to gain access to the basement or crawl space of the home. This is where the service line from the street enters into the home. From there, we plan for the program to follow the below steps and timeline:
- April 1 – August 31 – Conduct a physical inspection of all of the homes in the Community. The inspection will be for the following purpose:
o To determine and/or verify that a meter, backflow device and reading equipment is present and functioning.
▪ On homes where the meter and reading equipment is present and functioning, no action will be taken this year.
▪ On homes where the meter and reading equipment is present but not fully functional, either repairs or modifications will be made immediately or scheduled for a later date. It is possible that the meter may be present and functioning but the meter reading equipment not properly installed to the exterior of the home. This modification is normally quite simple.
▪ On homes where equipment is not present, this will be notated for future retrofitting.
- June 1 – Begin monthly reading of meters on those properties with meters and functioning reading equipment, begin developing baseline data. Meter reading will continue going forward to gather data, spot trends and identify leakage or water loss areas. Meter reading will not require access to the homes. Meter reading will be done from outside of the home with no disturbance to the resident.
- September 1 – Begin analysis of cost to retrofit those homes that do not have meters. Depending on cost analysis, time period for retrofit will be determined.
Does the Company plan on changing to a “Metered” billing system from the current “Flat-Rate” system?
Not at this time, although eventually, yes. This has been contemplated since the 2006 metering program first began. It was also contemplated in 2010 when the Idaho Public Utilities Commission set our initial Flat Rates and expressed their desire for us to implement a metering program.
We understand the metering program will take time to implement. We will try to make our visits to your homes as quick and convenient as possible. Exactly how long from beginning to completion won’t be known until we understand the full cost considerations, especially for retrofitting those homes which do not currently have meters.