Thursday December 12, 2013
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Since a couple of questions have come out of the recent problem, we may as well get them out in the open right here instead of having people talk about them at the post office, as so often happens.
They are earth shaking, but they are worth a minute of your time--and thinking.
The first one is the signs we once had telling us the water conservation stage. It was always obvious that Brooke used to them to prepare us for extra charges that were going to placed on us. Why? As far as I could ever see because they were manipulating the water levels to make it look like we needed to haul water. That was verify--for me anyway--when I found out that Brooke was pumping water UPHILL to Strawberry while we were paying a hauling fee. Since Brooke did not have permission from the ACC to charge Strawberry for hauling charges that was an obvious way to gouge us.
Anyway, the point has been made that the notifications during the problem were inadequate (and I am NOT talking about Sam Schwalm). For one thing, people complained to me (I get all the complaints up in Pine because I do this forum) that only one copy of the notice was placed at Ponderosa Market and the Post Office, instead of a stack, so that people could take one and read it at home. The other was that since the water level in the tank was getting low the complete draining of the tank might have avoided by using the no longer existent water stage signs. The third was that many people do not get to the post office or the market more than once a week--if that, and that the time should have been taken to do a door-to-door distribution for the sake of safety.
So? What do you think of those thoughts? What would you like the Board to do? Leave things as they are? Make a change? Which one or ones?
The other is the possibility of sabotage. This is a lousy world today, and we always have to face the possibility that people will do lousy things. The fact that two pumps failed at the same time, and the fact that they failed at the same time as some firings has--inevitably--make people think. On the other hand, we can't have Gary parading the pumping stations et al with a gun, can we? So what, if anything, do you think should be done? A fence here and there? Anything? Nothing?
I think it might help if we stay on the subject and skip the opportunity to bash the Board, by the way. These are legitimate questions, and they perhaps should be discussed, but we need light, not heat. Thanks!
Isn't it a law the pumps are fenced and locked?
We shared a well in Tonto Basin and the well and pump had to be fenced and locked at all times.
All these wells are in Gila county and the state of Arizona. Shouldn't they be under the same laws?
I don't have a water meter or any hook up at my house in Pine so don't have any dogs in this fight.
I would like the PSWID board to regulate "bullying" at their meetings. The board had to take anger management and the comments by attendees should be limited to "light" not "heat" as you so aptly put it. You don't want "board bashing" but what is to be done about "Sam Schwalm" bashing? It's been going on at the last three meetings at least. I hear Pugel and Wilcox saying Sam's wrong and has a grudge, but I hear nothing about responses to actual facts (paperwork). Rumors that circulate DO NOT START with Sam - he deals with facts and backing up those facts. He's an engineer and it's his nature.
I am sticking to FACTS - Tom. Please listen to the PSWID meeting recording to see that this is fact. http://waterforpinestrawberry.org/PSWIDrecordings.htm
Just a quick comment about something I overlooked; more tomorrow (I usually only post once a day).
Sorry, Deb. I should have mentioned Sam bashing too. I meant to deflect anything of that sort when I said "and I am NOT talking about Sam Schwalm." I should have been more specific. I can't tell you how many times I have seen sentences on this forum that started with, "Well, the board...." Or, "Well, Pay Pugel...." "Or, "Well, (somebody or other)...."
I have also read about people getting up at meetings and attacking, not Sam's comments, but Sam himself. And during the fight over the recall I heard exactly the same comments about Ray Pugel. The board gets them all the time. Questions? Fine. Comments on the issue? Fine. Comments on people? Not fine.
Talking about people themselves instead of what they are trying to say or do is an unfair attack method most often used by propagandists and politicians. It's called "ad hominem," which I have decried more than once in this forum. (It's Latin for "to the man," actually "argumentum ad hominem" if anyone cares to look it up.)
As I tried to make clear earlier, it gains no one anything to bash the board; the people on the board are just trying to do their jobs. And I hate it when people start bashing people in the office; they could not be more efficient or helpful. Nor does it any good for any of us to bash each other.
Here's an example of argumentum ad hominem: It makes the point better than anything else I have ever heard. Someone gets into a discussion with a women and says, "Is it your time of the month?" There are a lot of other examples I could give, but that's the best one I know of to really get people to understand how wrong ad hominen is.
Let's stick to facts and opinions, okay?
Tom, the CH2M Hill office personnel at the PSWID office are poite, helpful and have to operate under difficult circumstances at times.
I would like to politely shed some light and give my opinion on a few things. I may make a couple of entries to this blog.
You mentioned "Brooke was pumping water uphill to Strawberry while we were paying a hauling fee ...... that was an obvious way to gouge us" Yes water was pumped uphill to Strawberry. On the ACC website under eDocket# W-03512A-06-0407 are two testimonies given by the same former Brooke Utilites employee. The first which received publicity was on behalf of (complainant) Pugel Family Trust and submitted by lawyer the late Mr. Gliege.
Date filed 1/24/2008 Notice of filing rebuttal testimony.
The second testimony was on behalf of Pine Water Company (respondent) and submitted by Fennemore Craig with a filing date of 4/21/2008. Notice of filing testimony.
Unfortunately the ACC link will not work on this blog but both testimonies should be read.
I will quote some of the second testimony from ex employee which may offer some clarification as to why and how.
Q During the summer of 2007, did water trucks hauling water intended for Strawberry Water Company offload at the Pine Water Company storage tank?
A Yes, during the summer of 2007, I recall water supply trucks containing Strawberry water offloading at the Pine Water Company storage tank on several occasions. By Strawberry water, I mean water intended for delivery to Strawberry Water Company.
Q What was your understanding as to why water hauling trucks offloaded "Strawberry Water" at the Pine Water Company storage tank
A My understanding was that it was easier, faster, was more efficient and avoided the vandalism previously encountered to offload the Strawberry Water contained in the water hauling trucks at the Pine Water storage tank. The Pine Water storage tank is approximately 300,000 gallons. By comparison, the Strawberry Water storage tank is approximately 100,000 gallons. It was easier and faster to offload water hauling trucks at the Pine Water tank and ship that water to Strawberry Water Company through the Project Magnolia pipeline, as opposed to driving the water hauling trucks to Strawberry and offloading the water hauling trucks at the Strawberry Water storage tank.
Q Who directed you to make those water transfers from Pine to Strawberry?
A Mr A. He would tell me to turn on the Project Magnolia pumps and how much water should be pumped to Strawberry, typically 20,000-30,000 gallons.
Q How many total gallons did you ship from Pine to Strawberry in the summer of 2007?
A I do not know exactly how many gallons I transported from Pine to Strawberry
Q Can you approximate how many gallons you delivered from Pine Water Company to Strawberry Water Company through the Project Magnolia pipeline during the summer of 2007?
A Mr A typically would specify delivery of 20-30,000 gallons of water to Strawberry on each occasion. I would guess I transported 300,000-360,000 gallons of water to Strawberry in 2007.
Q Do you consider that a "substantial" amount of water in the context of Pine Water Company?
A No, given the total water usage and demand in Pine and Strawberry during the summer, that was not a significant amount of water. I guess that is just the way Mr. Gliege described it in the testimony he drafted.
Q Is it fair to say that you do not know whether Strawberry Water Company replaced any borrowed water from Pine Water Company through the Project Magnolia pipeline or through hauled Strawberry Water offloaded at the Pine storage tank?
A Yes, that is correct.
Q In your testimony, you reference a water meter on Project Magnolia, correct?
Q Can you explain what type of meter that is?
A Yes, it is a totalizing meter. The totalizing meter calculates the total amount of water transferred back and forth between Pine Water Company and Strawberry Water Company through Project Magnolia. The number is always going to be positive. A movement in the clockwise direction means water is going to Pine from Strawberry. All the numbers are in an "odometer" type format except for the hundreds.
Q During the summer of 2007, what was the reading on the totalizing meter?
A It had a positive number. My recollection is that it had a positive number of approximately 963,000 gallons. It is always going to have a positie number and I don't know if it went backward from zero or forward.
Q Mr. B, did you observe water trucks containing Strawberry water offloading at the Pine storage tank in the summer of 2007?
A Yes, on several occasions.
Q Do you have any information relating to whether customer demand in Strawberry required Brooke Utilities to offload Strawberry water at the Pine storage tank or temporarily transport Pine water to Strawberry to avoid customer outages?
A Yes, based on my knowledge at the time, both actions were necessary to avoid water shortages and customer outages in Strawberry during the summer of 2007.
Q If Pine Water Company temporarily transported water to Strawberry and that water was returned to Pine Water Company in the same amount through trucks hauling Strawberry water or through transfers on Project Magnolia from Strawberry to Pine, would there be any harm to Pine Water customers?
A No, if Strawberry Water Company provided Pine Water Company with an equal amount of water, either through water trucks offloading at the Pine Storage Tank or through water transfers through Project Magnolia, and Pine customers were not paying hauling charges for Strawberry water, then Pine Water Company would have the same total amount of water available for delivery to customers.
Q Do you have anything else to add at this time?
As to hauling charges, several communities have had their hauling charges investigated by the ACC. I think the most recent was Mesa Del and it was determined that the water provider was compliant with ACC rules and regulations. As I recall all hauling surcharge costs are submitted to ACC Staff for oversight and investigation before they are assessed to customers.
Next time I would like to address how the water conservation stage signs went away.
Please note, having a bit of a bother with layout. The final paragraph are my own words and should start off with ..... As to hauling charges ...... for some reason it all ran together :-(
Apolgies to all - Pam
Tom, you have asked us not to "board bash." However, I have some complaints about PSWID lack of proper communication. * **
The water conservation signs are necessary in order to keep the public informed about the current water situation. During the recent water crisis, we were told to conserve water. This statement let the rumor mongers go wild with all sorts of statments about just how serious the outage was. Water conservation signs would have helped stop some of the wilder rumors. However, the present board has told the public the signs are not required by law.
All previous water boards met monthly. The current board meets every other month unless the meeting is cancelled. The public was told monthly meetings are not required by law. Monthly meetings are needed in order to keep the public up to date and properly informed.
Previously, well status update e - mails were sent out. These e-mails were stopped with board members saying the public didn't want them any more. Well, no one asked me.
The current board has adopted a "closed mouth" policy. It needs to become more willing to share information with the public.
Please do not overlook that many people worked long hours to restore water to the community, and the community is thankful. However, relations would improve if the board would adopt a more open policy and not assume because someone asks a question that the person is attacking them.
For example, both the Strawberry Hollow well and the MRW1 had known sand issues before they were purchased. Isn't it reasonable to ask, "Why drill two more wells with possible sand issues before the sand problems in Strawberry Hollow and MRW1 are fully understood and solved?" We apparently have sufficient water for present needs from Strawberry Hollow and MRW1. "Are those two wells needed at the present time? Wouldn't the money be better spent in replacing some of the old, deteriorated infrastructure?"
Another example, the MRW2 and MRW3 are being drilled on land that I was told that PSWID did not know it owned before the MRW1 purchase. "What other property does PSWID own that it is not aware of? Has any inventory been taken of the property that was purchased from Brookes?"
There are other worthwhile questions that deserve answers, but I don't want to appear as if I am badgering.
"Isn't it a law the pumps are fenced and locked?'
I don't know. Good point though.
I hope you were cutting and pasting. If you typed all that in you deserve a medal!
As to whether or not Brooke pumped hauled water fro Pine to Strawberry without returning an equal amount to Pine, that question is neatly answered by these comments:
"Q If Pine Water Company temporarily transported water to Strawberry and that water was returned to Pine Water Company in the same amount through trucks hauling Strawberry water or through transfers on Project Magnolia from Strawberry to Pine, would there be any harm to Pine Water customers?"
"A No, if Strawberry Water Company provided Pine Water Company with an equal amount of water, either through water trucks offloading at the Pine Storage Tank or through water transfers through Project Magnolia, and Pine customers were not paying hauling charges for Strawberry water, then Pine Water Company would have the same total amount of water available for delivery to customers."
"Q Can you explain what type of meter that is?"
"A Yes, it is a totalizing meter. The totalizing meter calculates the total amount of water transferred back and forth between Pine Water Company and Strawberry Water Company through Project Magnolia. The number is always going to be positive. A movement in the clockwise direction means water is going to Pine from Strawberry. All the numbers are in an "odometer" type format except for the hundreds."
"Q During the summer of 2007, what was the reading on the totalizing meter?"
"A It had a positive number. My recollection is that it had a positive number of approximately 963,000 gallons."
Clearly, those comments show that 963,000 gallons of water were pumped from Pine to Strawberry without a compensating amount having been pumped the other way.
I have read the entire record before. There is nothing in them that states that water was either pumped or trucked from Strawberry to even up the numbers.
If it were left to me I would put the stage signs back up. They served a useful purpose.
As to sand issues in both the wells where the pumps failed, I can only speculate without data, but I would imagine the sand problems were at least in part the cause of the pump failures. What can or should, be done about that is FAR outside my area of expertise.
And as to some of things that happened, as for example not putting out enough copies of the notices and not hand carrying them to the relatively small number of meter holders, I look upon that in the same way I look upon some of the flack between the Board and others. It 's a simple lack of PR. Businesses go far out of their way to ensure that their customers do not get turned off, but PSWID is not a business and may be overlooking the need for a bit more PR. (Please notice the "may" in that sentence.)
I'm glad no one has bought into the sabotage theory. I out it up in hopes that that would happen. So that's one thing out of the way.
What's left? Not a great deal.
By the way, the one comment in the testimony at the ACC that struck me as manufactured and totally false was the comment that water had to be uploaded in Pine because doing it in Strawberry would have caused riots. If ever there was a poor excuse, that's it.
Tom, I will take your medal :-)
You asked about the water conservation stage signs and I've some history as to what was and then why they were removed.
PSWID minutes 6/19/2010
e. Discuss and take possible action related to water conservation measures.
Bob Cassaro initiated a discussion of re-instituting water conservation measures as high demand summer
weekends approach. Dean Shaffer offered information on how demand was going to affect water storage
during high demand season. A discussion of using the existing “conservation” signs might help to remind
residents of water conservation needs.
Motion to use existing water conservation sign numbers as a public reminder of water conservation using
number “2” when storage capacity reaches 85% for more than 48 hours, and going to number “3” when
storage capacity reaches 75% for more than 48 hours – Richard
Second – Tom
Vote – 7 – 0 Motion passed.
My comment. In 2011 under FOIA I obtained combined PSWID Tank Level Reports for a couple of months. Listed below is what I found.
PSWID Tank Level Report using combined Pine and Strawberry tank levels for 3rd through 7th July 2011
3rd July 82%
4th July 74%
5th July 69%
6th July 76%
7th July 85%
PSWID Tank Level Report using combined Pine and Strawberry tank levels for 4th through 9th September 2011
4th Sept. 84%
5th Sept. 69%
6th Sept. 63%
7th Sept. 71%
8th Sept. 77%
9th Sept. 84%
My comment is that even if system work was being carried out, and the levels dropped, the appropriate water conservation stage should have been activated to alert the pubic to conserve.
More from PSWID minutes to follow
November 17, 2011. Brad Cole DM for CH2M Hill gave a presentation to the board for an updated "Drought Preparedness/Water Conservation" Plan for the District. Obviously Brad had put a lot of time and thought into the effort.
PSWID Minutes Nov 17, 2011
9) NEW BUSINESS
Discuss and take possible action related to development of a Water Conservation and Drought Preparedness Plan for the District.
Gary Lovetro opened the discussion by informing attendees that the current "Conservation Signs" are not required by state law, and are maintained strictly on a voluntary basis by the District. He also pointed out that recent observations by Sam Schwalm maintaining the District should have changed the signs to reflect a water shortage were incorrect. Gary emphasized that the signs are voluntary, and the District would change them when a water shortage was determined. He reminded attendees that over the last 2 years since acquisition of the water companies PSWID has not encountered a water shortage.
Brad Cole reviewed his recommendations for an updated "Drought Preparedness/Water Conservation" Plan for the District. He explained the District must submit an updated plan to ADWR every 5 years. The state does not require the use of signs, but requires reporting by Districts on how information is disseminated to water customers. Brad proposed the use of new "color-coded" signs to reflect water stages from level 0 (green) to level 4 (red). He indicated that stage levels were based on not only water tank levels but the "reasonable belief" that a water shortage existed on a "sustained basis."
Brad is currently preparing the District’s updated plan for submission to ADWR in January 2012. When finalized the plan will be made available to current water customers and provided in an information packet to new water customers.
District Board Member discussion followed. Tom Weeks asked how the water restrictions might impact commercial water customers. Brad will take commercial customers into consideration when developing water stage restrictions.
Motion – to approve Brad Cole’s "Drought Preparedness / Water Conservation" Plan for submission to the state adopting all mandatory notification methods listed, but keeping water stage signs on a voluntary basis- Gary
Second – Tom
Vote – 6 – 0 Plan approved.
PSWID minutes 2/23/2012
Discuss and take possible action related to "water conservation signs" posted through-out the District.
Ron Calderon opened discussion on this issue. Ron indicated he felt the conservation signs indicated we still have a water "problem." His recommendation is to take down the signs because we don’t have a water problem today.
PSWID –Minutes – Regular Brd Mtg – 02232012draft 5
Motion – to take down our water signs because they serve zero purpose today- Ron
Second – Gary
Board discussion followed. Don Smith questioned if the Board had been mandated to update the signs. Gary explained the State required us to update the 5 year notification plan. The signs are a voluntary part of the plan and are not required. Richard asked to confirm the signs were not required, and wanted to know what means of communication would the District use if the signs were not used. Brad Cole responded that we could knock on doors, post in public places, e-mail, notices in the billing for a few methods. Brad had never used the signs before because they are not required. Tom Weeks suggested leaving the signs up but covered unless needed. Ron suggested e-mail would be a good method. Mike Greer asked about the recent change in color-coding the signs. Gary commented that on a visit to another community he saw similar signs and it reminded him that they still had water issues. The signs are a reminder of the past.
Vote – 7 – 0 Motion approved unanimously to remove signs.
In my opinion the signs should not have been removed. The suggestion made by PSWID board member Tom Weeks seems reasonable. Had we had the signs still in place, the public at large would have been notified earlier that a problem existed. As it was, some residents heard about it on the 10:00 pm news, hours after they were supposed to stop consuming and bathing in the water. In addition to the Post Office a notice would have been put up outside the PSWID office.
After several days when everything had been restored, a telephone alert went out with an all clear to use the water. Hopefully if we experience another major problem the telephone alert will go out immediately to stop using the water etc. The other means of notification listed should go along with it. Priority should be given to those who are aged or infirm. Maybe a list can be generated of those who have young babies, elderly, and those with special needs. Likewise a list of us who would gladly volunteer to go around our neighborhood with door hangers. We know the homes with full time residents and those that may only come to Pine and Strawberry for the odd weekend.
I'm still not exactly sure what was left open on equipment at the Milk Ranch Well #1 facility that caused the problem there, but I do know that when work was recently carried out to install equipment and booster station etc. a fence was installed. I think it was 100 feet by 70 feet. I would imagine that the Strawberry Hollow 3 (SH3) well filter buiding is also secured. .
I am glad that the sabotage rumor was dismissed by Brad Cole at the meeting, or at least that nothing like that caused these two outages..
All I can say is that I believe that the current board is not acting in an open manner and is thereby creating mistrust in the community. At the July 28 meeting, Brad Cole said that a new supervisor has been hired but did not give the individual's name. On Monday, July 30, I e-mailed Brad and asked for the name, previous experience, and other qualifications of the individual and whether the person lived in the area. I have not heard back. I will wait a little longer and then try again. I also suggested that the information about the new supervisor be placed on the PSWID website or mentioned in a Roundup article as other people in the area would probably like the information. To date, I have not found and information in either place.
I think it is proper to want to know the information about the new supervisor, don't you?
I am lost in all this because I don't read all the post. Who is Brad Cole?
Brad Cole is the district manager. He actually is employed by CMH (it might be CHM -- I can't keep the letters straight in my mind) which is the company PSWID contracts with to manage the water system. As I understand it the new supervisor was hired to replace the maintenance manager that was fired back in June.
Bernice, they probably want you to fill out a Public Record Request, which they will most likely run by their lawyer.
Management company name is CH2M Hill
Thanks, Pam. That's a LOT of work.
There is no substitute for facts.
"Ron Calderon opened discussion on this issue. Ron indicated he felt the conservation signs indicated we still have a water "problem." His recommendation is to take down the signs because we don’t have a water problem today."
The signs were there for a purpose. Recent events clearly show that they were needed.
"Management company name is CH2M Hill"
Want a simple, logical comment? Change the %$#@! name of the local division of the company to something sensible, like Rim Water.
As to the signs, there isn't the slightest doubt in my mind that if it were put to a vote of the people they would be put back. I suppose I have talked to twenty people about it off and on. Every one of them wanted them back. Most people, in fact, said that it felt good seeing the signs stay at Stage One almost all the time, and they felt it was a good PR for Pine and Strawberry. And if there's a need to let us know to conserve, then that's fine too. Can anyone think of a logical reason for not telling us?
"Bernice, they probably want you to fill out a Public Record Request, which they will most likely run by their lawyer."
Too formal. Who needs lawyers? There should not be an adversarial relationship between the board and the people who elected it. It is unnatural and destructive.
PSWID has had an attorney present at each of their meetings for about the past year if not longer. Pam, can you give more detail about the attorney presence?
In fact their attorney (or stand in for their attorney) was present at the July 28 meeting. He was sitting at the end of the table with the CH2M Hill people. He was not introduced at the beginning of the meeting.
I wonder how much this attorney presence is costing the taxpayers of PSWID?
And, yes, Tom, I agree the signs were an advertisement for just how much water matters had improved. It was nice seeing a consistent "1" for a change.
I think you may have to get the records thru PSWID if CH2M is a private company.
As for PS. having an attorney. I always felt if you were being honest, and not doing anything wrong, you don't need a full time attorney.
Nice easy reply. Agree.
Bernice, an attorney can be present at PSWID public meeting if requested by two board members. He has been at every meeting.
A public body must make its minutes available for inspection within three working days after the meeting. A.R.S. § 38-431.01. The last meeting was held on 7/28/12 it is now 8/7/12 we are now into 7th working day and no minutes are to be found on PSWID website.
Item 9 on agenda was CH2M Hill presentation - report on water service distruption. The public were cautioned to restrict their questions / comments to the presentation. However, the self appointed Mayor of Pine and Strawberry proceeded to the front of the audience with mike in hand and castigated Sam Schwalm with comments that had nothing to do with the CH2M Hill presentation. Once again the Chairman allowed such a performance. It would seem that double standards abound.
If there is anything I like less than local politics I do not know what it is, but if people are unhappy with one or more board members then there are appropriate solutions for it.
Frankly, it makes me unhappy to be living in a place where there is never-ending controversy. I didn't come here for controversy; I came here to recapture the small town atmosphere of my teens and early twenties, and for a large number of years I found it.
It is now gone.
The set of minutes I referenced showed up on the PSWID website this afternoon. I agree "if people are unhappy with one or more board members then there are appropriate solutions for it"
We have some wonderful people in Pine and Strawberry and many of us appreciate the hard work CH2M Hill undertook to restore our water service.
I hold out the hope that things will improve and as Sir Winstone Churchill said
"For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use being anything else"
"We have some wonderful people in Pine and Strawberry...."
True. I came through here in 1958 and made up my mind back then I wanted to livfe among them.
"...many of us appreciate the hard work CH2M Hill undertook to restore our water service."
I think I would even go so far as to change that from "many" to "all."
Re: Churchill, thanks!
It's always nice to have a little wit, wisdom, and humor in a discussion. Churchill is one of my favorite people. I have all of his books except his "History of the English Speaking Peoples" and his novel, the title of which I have forgotten.
I even have a little book with nothing in it but his wit and wisdom.
In regard to what is going on with PSWID, he said two things that fit perfectly:
"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
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