Saturday March 8, 2014
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It’s been a week since Mr. Pugel wrote his Guest View in the Payson Roundup. I won’t wear you or me out by dissecting all of what was written, but will elaborate on what Ric Hawthorne submitted in his Guest View last Tuesday Nov. 26, 2013.
Mr. Pugel wrote “A leak detection survey has pinpointed over 50 leaks which result in a water loss of over a million gallons a month.” The PSWID minutes say “Program is finding more than 51 leaks that could amount to 12.5 million gallons of water lost. CH2M Hill will systematically fix leaks.”
Here are some facts taken directly from the Water Line Leak Detection Project for PSWID carried out by Utility Services Associates.
Pinpointing Phase Information
A large number of leaks (38) were located on new meter installations
Total Areas Surveyed 58 miles
Service Line 3
Service Connection 0
Unidentified Water Loss
Faulty Meters 0
Unidentified Leaks 2
Possible Consumer Side Leaks 2
Note: Each leak had a page dedicated to it called a Leak Report. It gave Location, Leak Type, Remarks, Recommendation, Leak Rate, a map and a breakdown of water loss measured in daily, weekly and monthly amounts. Times that by 51 pages for the leak report section, you can imagine by the very thickness of the document that Mr. Pugel failing to mention the 38 brand new meters that are leaking could not have been oversight. In addition there were other pages that gave a direct listing of the locations and the leak problem. I have seen the threads that were cut off the new meters to make them fit i.e. jerry-rigged and subsequently any warranty for the meters is now null and void.
Mr. Hawthorne calculated that just those 38 meters alone counted for half of the annual water loss stated, and the total loss is still only 11.2% of the 111,016,171 gallons produced in the 2012-2013 season, which is a far cry from the 30+% we were told we were losing. That figure was thrown around to justify ripping out the entire system all at once and the addition of $7.5 Million loan put in the budget.
We are simply looking for the public to be allowed to elect a board that will respect the community, not distort facts, cover up misuse of public funds and for them to be fiscally responsible. A board that is not going to force a $12 Million loan which is the latest estimate (up from $7.5 Million) on us in tough economic times, but will instead work on repairing and improving the system over time and spreading out the payments.
With regards to when a new election can be held I hope that Supervisor Martin and the other two Supervisors can see that we need a new PSWID board elected in May 2014 and not November 2014 as indicated by Mr. Pugel. This will be the 2nd time the BOS will run the district, another request made to BOS in November 2006 by Mr. Pugel failed.
Gila County District 1 Supervisor Martin has done a lot for her constituents including working with the Forest Service on fuel reduction and was in the forefront in getting us a newly constructed Ramada in Pine. Mr. Pugel was appointed by Supervisor Martin to serve on various committees and I understand his always needing things to go his way. Roundup archives going back to 2003 can substantiate my claim, but now is not the time to drag out BOS administration of PSWID any longer than necessary. The last recall election cost just under $20,000. The last time the district was administered by BOS/Mr. Nelson it cost us over $227,000.
It’s my opinion that the Community does not need an extended cooling off period, audio tapes show that the majority of anger and threats issued at PSWID meetings came from the PSWID board themselves and now that the board is disbanded due to 5 resignations, that threat should diminish. When we have attended the BOS meetings via video link were we rude and unprofessional? Of course not, neither were we at PSWID meetings, did I finally bristle a bit at the last meeting when I was insulted? Yes I did.
It is an encouraging sign that many upstanding citizens are willing to run in the next election, and more will most likely step forward. Obviously no one knows who will end up elected but from what I have seen so far all are willing to roll up their sleeves and get the job done. Now it is up to the Gila County Board of Supervisors to allow a May 2014 election.
Thanks for the details, Pam. As you said, PSWID was determined to fix the leaks that affected the PSWID revenue and that the leakage was the reason for the installation of the new meters. I hope CH2MHill is as determined to fix the leaks their workers caused with the faulty installation. It's the PSWID CUSTOMERS who are now paying for the leaks per the report. A big savings to the community would have been through the PSWID consideration of high grade plastic meters saving the community over $30,000. The proposed meter recycling project doesn't seem to be supervised very closely when workers are taking home old meters and giving them away. Through recycling of these old meters there would be thousands of dollars to at least help replenish the budget.
Thanks for the data. Facts help people to make rational judgments, and cool, calm, fact-supported decisions are what we need at this critical point in time.
One thing I think we can all be sure of is that Tommie Martin will give us exactly that — cool, calm, fact-supported decisions — and I, for one, am delighted that she is involved. Her ability to lead has been proven many times since she took office.
Talking about facts, I have a question that I am sure everyone has after reading about new meters that leak because of a jury-rigged installation. I would be very curious to know why we would buy meters that could not be fitted to the existing system? And I'd be even more curious to know why it wasn't obvious after the first attempt to jury-rig the job that cutting the threads off wasn't going to be leak proof?
Back when the meter replacement question arose I did a little rough research into water meters. I certainly did not become any kind of expert, but the wide range of meters offered appeared to include literally any size or type of connection, there were many companies offering meters, and the connections looked about as standard as anything I've ever seen. I looked at several kinds of poly, steel, and bronze meters, and their specs included a variety of connection types and sizes. In fact, I got tired of wading through all the data. I even waded through a book that Google had on installations and whatnot, got bored to tears, and quit.
As I said, I'm no kind of expert, but if I were buying something I would certainly ask my workers what kind of connections I needed to order. Wouldn't you? So why wasn't that done? Or if it was done, why was a decision made to jury-rig the new meters? In other words, the question is what prompted what appears to have been a poor decision?
In all fairness, that question needs to be asked and answered, particularly when you stop to realize that the minute that a pipe connection is made and the water pressure is turned back on it would be obvious that the meter was leaking.
Has anyone checked their meters to see if they were registering liters or gallons used?
We lived in a subdivision in Gilbert and part of the meters were liters and the other gallons.
Made quite a difference in the water bills.
Don't I ask good questions? (:
I am amazed. 38 of the meters that were supposed to solve some PSWID problems are now the cause of leaks that could cause 12.5 million gallons of water loss in a year??????????? The possibility of raising a bond issue to $12 million????????????Altering meters thereby voiding their warranty??????????
I simply cannot believe what I have read. My mind cries out for a logical explanation. I hope someone from PSWID will see fit to give an explanation.
Have you got a good attorney?
Pam's entry said that 12.5 million gallons of water loss was for all the leaks. Mr. Hawthorne calculated that the 38 meters accounted for about half of the total water loss. Therefore, if I have it correct about 6 million gallons of water loss due to the 38 meters. Is that correct?
Yes Pat you do ask good questions. I would imagine that caused quite a stir in Gilbert!
Bernice, Ric Hawthorne calculated that just those 38 meters alone counted for half of the annual water loss stated, not the full 12.5 million gallons. The vast majority of the meters are 5/8" (residential) because that is what most people have and the specs. are clearly written. Company provides an 800 number for technical support.
Thanks for the correct information, Pam. I guess I was just over whelmed by all the figures.
Seems that I can't get off of this thing today. I won't mention any more numbers since I can become very over whelmed by them!!!
I now have some questions for Deb. In your entry you refer to high grade plastic meters. Will these last as long as the type that was installed by PSWID? And, are they as good? Can you tell us more about recycling the old meters?
As a chemist (that was my basic field in college and I taught it for a number of years) I can tell you a little about plastic water meters. Back when I was doing my very short lived research on water meters I noticed that the plastic ones were referred to as "poly" meters. Because "poly" can refer to a lot of different kinds of plastic (it is a term that refers to the joining of several like molecules) I looked deeper into the specs.
What I found genuinely pleased me because I admire good engineering. The meters I looked at made very intelligent use of the wide variety of poly plastics. You see, some plastics are very good for one purpose, and others are very good for others, and within a water meter there are many different kinds and types of stress that a good engineer would consider in his design. What I found was that the body of the meters I looked at were made from the same tough, flexible, close to indestructible plastic as the stock of an M-16, which as you may know will outlast other materials used for gunstocks by as much as ten to fifteen times. And within the meters they used other types of plastic, each one chosen for its special properties. I thought they were very well engineered, and quite inexpensive.
One thing you may not think of, but which is very important in outdoor applications, is a low coefficient of expansion. You do not want a material that expands and contracts in such a way as to cause connections to loosen over time. Nor do you want one which is prone to become brittle in cold weather or too flexible in hot weather, and you definitely do not want something which might fracture should it freeze, as most metals do. Since meters are contained within boxes, but are still subject to wide swings in temperature because the boxes are not insulated, and since we get everything up here from 104º to -13º, that's an important consideration.
Obviously, I cannot comment specifically on either the meters which were purchased, or on a possible plastic alternative, but plastics can be very tough, stable, long lasting, corrosion resistant, and inexpensive alternatives to the older materials we used to use.
Debble will probably be able to give you more specific information, but that's how a chemist would view the question.
Bernice, from what I understand, the plastic meters will last 10-15 yrs as is the same with the other meters. The cost of the plastic meters wasn't even one of the considerations - this answer was given from CH2MHill when asked why we didn't consider plastic meters. Again, if plastic meters had been chosen, the cost savings would have been approx. $30,000. In reference to the meter connections, the new meter needs to connect to existing pipe connections on the customers property. Again, from what I understand, should be adjusted on the customer pipe side - not by altering the new meter which nullifies the warrantee. Since it has been painfully discovered that the water lines can be multiple sizes, this would be the reason for one-size-DOESN'T-fit-all problem. When installing the meters to a pipe that doesn't fit the options are 1. to fit the pipe to the new meter or 2. fit the meter to the pipe. It takes less time to fit the new meter to the pipe. You can make the deductions from there. Some members of PSWID had been promising the new meter installation to be completed by the end of this year. This information has been received from the actual CH2MHill (PSWID management company) hired help doing the installations. Also, some of the parts of the new meters discarded also have been obtained from the actual workers. The workers did not take it on themselves to make these decisions - they were directed to do so. As well, the information about the recycling was obtained from workers who were told to just keep the old meter after the new meter installation and that it's just part of their work. The monies from recycling the metals from the old meters could be significant to add back to the PSWID funds.
Did you ever think the old meters belong to the property owners? They bought and paid for them when they hooked into the water line. $750.00 when I bought the one that is at the house where my son lives here in Payson. That was after the fee to have water. We paid to have water when our plans were approved. The meter was not installed until after the house was built.
Pat, I totally agree with you that after paying high fees for these water meters, they should become homeowners' property. However, as painful and unfair as it may seem, the meters belong to the water company. My understanding is that we are supposedly paying for the installation, service and privilege of having and using the water meter on our property. As a property owner, we are responsible for the remainder of the pipework from the meter to our home as well as ensuring that it is protected from damage and accessible for reading.
When I was in Japan and learning the language, there was a term which when written in Romanji, the standard alphabetic version of Japanese is spelled "miru-miru," but which spoken sounds like "meter-meter" to the ears of an English speaking person.
It means, "to look at" and is used in the sense of saying something like, "Hi, Doc. Meter-meter this sore on my hand, will you?" or "Fred, can you meter-meter the lawn for today's paper?"
If I were you, and I were interested in meters and other fundamental facts about PSWID, a good place to start trying to untangle the mass of information would to be to "meter-meter" Pete Aleshire's April 17, 2012 article at this link:
Awash in water
by Pete Aleshire
Tom, there is very little content about meters in this article. What prompted you to suggest reading this particular one?
Deb, I take it that those interested can "miru-miru" look at what was written in Pete Aleshire article and use it as a spring board to ascertain for themselves what happened. The public may ask themselves why did the previous Chairman Mr. Haney and Tetra Tech resign? Was it because they expressed concerns over Milk Ranch Well #1? Then read on as to what subsequently happened under new PSWID regime and who else among the community and board directly benefited. Why was an investigation started by the Arizona Auditor Generals office? Were the public being given complete information, or as is the case with the 38 brand new meters leaking, only told what the board decided they should know. At the end of the April 17, 2012 article there are additional links referenced, and when those are read then more follow and so on.
Pine water doubles taxes, boosts water rate 33%
P-S will start drilling for water near Milk Ranch Well
Milk Ranch Well purchase gets final approval
Five Pine-Strawberry board members resign
Milk Ranch Well needs filter after all
Lastly did 5 members of the PSWID board violate open meeting law by all resigning at the same time the very next day following a public meeting? As Tom indicated in his post there is a lot to untangle.
Okay the links at the bottom of Pete Aleshire article all ran into one. I will try again
Here are those links, Pam:
Pine water doubles taxes, boosts water rate 33%
by Pete Aleshire
P-S will start drilling for water near Milk Ranch Well
by Max Foster
Milk Ranch Well purchase gets final approval
by Max Foster
Five Pine-Strawberry board members resign
by Pete Aleshire
Milk Ranch Well needs filter after all
by Max Foster
Thanks Deb :-)
Who says they belong to the water co? If you were the one that paid for the meter, have a receipt, had it installed and have to pay for repairs on it. You own it.
I don't know if that's true or not. No idea.
The reason I chose that particular article was because Pete, being the professional he is, did an nicely even-handed job with the news. He stated facts without letting any of those small descriptive words creep in and tilt his article to one side or the other, and yet it contains a world of information. I remembered the article because of that and dug it up so that people could reacquaint themselves with some basic facts.
Three of my heroes:
Joe Friday: "Just give be the facts, Maam, just the facts."
Diogenes: (Lifting his lamp) "I'm looking for an honest man."
The medieval savant, who probably never existed, and is said to have ended an argument about the number of teeth in a horse's mouth by going out in the stable and counting them, thereby losing his position at the university, but leaving us with some very good advice: "Look in the horse's mouth."
There's always an opinion and/or spin on "the truth" or "the facts" and that's the challenge. It's the same as Democrats and Republicans. Both sides can look at the same challenge and interpret it into completely different truths.
Some where I heard some one say that the Pine Strawberry water problems have been going on for about 18 years. I beg to differ with that statement. Although, given my history with numbers, I should probably be cautious. Well anyway, shortly after we purchased our property some 17 or 18 years ago, the previous owner (the one before Hardcastle) of the Pine/Strawberry water system was getting a lot of heat. There were a number of meetings in which the former owner (the one before Hardcastle) was being questioned about his operation. I felt the meetings were very antagonistic. In fact, I remember remarking to my husband that it seemed as if the former owner (the one before Hardcastle) was literally being tarred and feathered and run out of town. Talking to "old timers" in the area, I got the imrpression that the water problems were not new with the former water company owner. In fact, I got the impression water problems were present in the area almost from day one.
So how did Pine/Strawberry get into the terrible fix? Was it a matter of unplanned development? Was it a matter of planning only for the current development without any idea of how the hew development would meld with the established develoments?
Let's hear it from you old timers. Give us some history.
Everyone had their own well until the developers came in and started drilling deeper wells and selling water. There was a little ditch on the east side of the highway that ran water all year. Get the history from the Arizona Dept. of water resource or Gila county
Everything has to go thru Gila county for building permits etc.
I can talk about "water problems" up here because I have had the pleasure of spending many, many hours talking to an "old timer" who was a contemporary of a generation which is now largely gone. In fact to be accurate, I should say it was "many, many days." He knew just about everything there is to know about this beautiful place tucked away under the Tonto Rim. His knowledge went all the way back to a time when the population of Pine was 75 people. I got my knowledge of this area straight from the horse's mouth, and I'll share some of it with you now.
Pat hit the nail right on the head. When each home that was built had its own well there were no "water problems" in the sense that the term is used today. There were home wells that supplied the water for each home, and irrigation water for things other than home use. The irrigation was very carefully controlled by one of the original families. Pat is quite correct when she says it ran right down the middle of town. In fact, it still does, but it's now underground, and it is still being used. There was a time when there were orchards here, and when crops were grown using that irrigation water; now it mainly supplies the homes and businesses which line or are close to Highway 87.
Land speculation began after the Beeline Highway was put in, allowing access to the Rim Country, which prior to that time had been a very difficult matter. Some pieces of land were purchased by people who wanted to develop them, but they needed to have a supply of water to do that. That was the beginning of "water problems," by which I mean a public outcry against what people felt was "wrong."
What happened was that the developers dug deeper wells than the 30 to 50 foot deep wells that existed. That was fine, except for one thing; the deep wells dried up the shallow wells, creating a need for a water supply to the homes which had previously depended on them. Then began "water problems."
One developer up in Strawberry even attracted people to his land by leaving a pipe open from his new deep well so as to create two shallow lakes in a low area. The pipe was still open decades later when Brooke Utilities put in an 8 inch pipeline between Pine and Strawberry, called Project Magnolia; it was the prime reason why millions of gallons of water were lost each year, but no one could ever figure out how and where. The open pipe was capped at that time.
Water companies were formed at a time when developers were worried about lawsuits and a threatened initiative which would have stopped development in Pine unless water was supplied free of charge to anyone whose shallow well ran dry after a deep well was drilled. Developers began connecting nearby homes to their water systems, which eventually led to a number of small water companies both in Pine and in Strawberry. What most people do not know is that some of those small water companies still exist up in Strawberry.
The date of the first of the deep wells can be detected in Pine in by duplicating a little scientific investigation I ran when I became interested in all this 15 years ago. Talking to that old timer I mentioned, I learned that the deep wells placed many trees under stress, and that quite a few pines were subsequently attacked by bark beetles and had to be cut down.
Here's how you can verify that, as I did: Find the stump of any large Pine tree located in or near the center of Pine. You will have to know the year that the tree was cut down. Look at the tree rings. You will find that they are very broad, about half an inch or more wide each year for many, many years, but they suddenly get narrower, as thin as one eighth of an inch. Count the tree rings outward from the date of that change, add in the years since the tree was cut down, and you have the date of the first deep wells in Pine. Those wells quickly drew down the water table as they went into operation, and many pines died as a result because they did not have time to respond.
The "water troubles" in Pine became more and more acute as larger numbers of homes were constructed during the 80's and 90's. Pine Water was a small underfunded company and did little about it. However, when Brooke Utilities purchased Pine Water in 1996 as part of a package deal in which they bought many water companies up here, the people of the area finally had better protection; that was because Brooke, as a corporation, was regulated by the ACC, which placed a moratorium on new water meters until something was done about the severe water shortage of the late 1990's. Both 1997 and 1998 were bad water years, but 1999 was even worse, prompting action by Brooke, which could see that it was in trouble. The response was a proposal for a pipeline to Strawberry to tap into a supposedly inexhaustible supply of water.
Before Project Magnolia was put in to solve, you see, the waiting list for a new water meter was 17 years long. I know. I was on the list; in fact I was the sixth person on it because I could see the moratorium coming, and way back in 1994 had had a meter installed on a piece of property I owned in Mountain Shadows II. I planned to build on it in 1998 after I retired. But when Ray Pugel came here and learned he would have to wait several years to build the home he now occupies, he began calling people on the list, asking when they were going to build, hoping to move up the list. In fact, he called me, my brother-in-law Peter, and Peter's brother John all on the same day. I suppose he called everyone, but evidently he had no luck.
When he couldn't get a open place on the list that way, Ray apparently dug deeper into the ACC rules, and discovered a little known fact, namely that someone had inserted a clause in the ACC rule that said that when a meter was installed construction had to begin within 90 days. Well, no one knew about that (Brooke did though), and so the ACC, under Ray's prompting, so the lady at the ACC told me when I called to talk about a notice I was sent by them, began notifying people they would either have to start building or lose their meters.
Lolly's sister and Peter, her husband, had bought the plot next to ours. It was our plan to build two homes side by side on the two plots so that when we retired Lolly and Betty would be side by side. Peter was already retired, and he and Betty had sold their place in Portals II and were already building, but I was working and had no time to oversee construction on my land, so out went my water meter (thanks Ray). :-)
However, since I had asked all the right questions of the manager of Pine Water in their Pine office, and had witnesses to that fact, I filed a formal complaint against Brooke and whipped them hands down during legal hearing that was much like a civil trial, getting my money back for the meter, its installation, and all the monthly charges I had paid for 18 months. The ACC actually found for me in a greater amount than I accepted. They had charged Brooke for the $750 it cost me to have the two boxes installed on my land. That amount I refused to accept. I said that since I still had those boxes, and since they would enhance the value of the property, I felt it was wrong to take money that I would get back when I sold the land.
It's nice to be honest. Feels good.
And it was true. I bought that land for $18,000 and sold it just a few years after the case at the ACC for $34,000. Thanks again, Ray. :-)
(PS: FYI, while Ray and I are not drinking buddies, neither are we enemies. We are two sensible people who understand that people do not always agree on all issues. We were on opposite sides of the purchase of the water company and the purchase of the Milk Ranch well, but It is possible to be on opposite sides of an issue without making it a personal matter. We have more than once met and talked, and have always parted company without a harsh word passing between us. And I have no problems with what Ray did regarding getting a meter either. He wanted to build a house. He found something that no one knew about in the rules; he used that rule. Fair enough.)
The rest of the Pine water problems — and now Pine/Strawbery water problems — you know.
You can read more about the history of water problems in Pine and Strawberry BEFORE they became a political issue by going to a pair of Roundup articles:
Project Magnolia to help thirsty Pine
Construction of pipeline reaches halfway point
Tom, I think you misunderstood. I wanted the history of the water system prior to the purchase by Brooke. As I understand it, Brooke bought a dilapitated, scotched taped together system. I do not believe that having purchased a broken down system absolves Brooke from the fact that little to nothing was done to upgrade the system while Brooke owned it. You are probably correct insofar as most of the old timers I refer to are probably gone.
I believe that the some of the "water companies" prior to Brooke were under the ACC. The meetings my husband and I attended where the previous owner of the Pine system was literally being tarred and feathered had a representative from the ACC present.
I also think we need to reach an agreement about "deep wells." In my mind the only deep wells in Pine are: Strawberry Hollow, Milk Ranch 1, 2, 3 and the one drilled by Pine Creek Canyon Domestic Water Improvement District (Portals 4). These were all drilled during the past 18 years. When you refer to deep wells, I think you might be referring to some other wells - maybe those in the mid range?
I just lost my continuation of the previous entry. Will try to complete it later.
Somewhere in one of those meetings when the previous owner of the water companies was being "tarred and feathered" an employee of the State of Arizona made a statement regarding an historical 20 year weather cycle. He stated that Arizona goes in 20 year cycles of drought and sufficient precipitation. He also stated that Arizona was currently in thebeginning of a 20 year drought cycle. I remember this specifically because I turned to my husband and said, "That is just great, during the time we are planning to be in Pine, there will be a drought."
And drought we had. Sometime about the time we were starting to lose those pine trees, there was a meeting in Pine concerning the loss of the trees. At that meeting an employee of the State of Arizona stated that the loss of the trees was due to the drought. He said that the bark beetle is always present, however, due to the stress brought on by the drought the bark beetle is winning and killing the trees. He suggested banking snow around the trees and watering the trees. That suggestion was rather laughable because at that time we were getting little winter snow and with Stage 5 conditions, who could water the trees? I did try to bank what little snow we got around the trees. We lost 13 trees on our property.
Therefore, I believe the drought rather than drilling deep wells created the tree loss problem. Remember in drought years, the growth marks on a tree will be very small.
I have heard about the open water pipe in Strawberry that was discovered when the Magnolia pipe line was put in. I realize it was capped. I was wondering if there were other known "misdeeds" that were done prior to Brooke ownership.
I also know that the Magnolia Pipeline was supposed to help out the Pine water situation. However, I have also been told that there was a limit to how much could be taken out of Strawberry to supply Pine. There was the question, "How could you pump one area dry in order to supply another area."
Please remember we were in drought years. I think we are getting out of the drought now. We have had 2 summers with good monsoons and some winters with snow. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the worst is over.
OK, about that drought. There is an article in today's AZ Republic that states that the current drought has been in effect for "almost 15 years." Starting dates of droughts I guess are in dispute. However, it remains that we have been in a drought for several years.
The article mentions "Pacific Decada Oscillation" you might want to look that term up. I briefly looked at some info. Will not try to fill you in as I am not a scientist and would probably get things mixed up. And heaven knows we have enough "mix up" already.
If it is drought that causes the bark beetles to eat trees how come there are so many dead trees that are being watered by private wells and town water in yards?
They are all over Payson. I had one in a yard on Canpar St. that was watered all the time.
I have a fir tree in my yard now that is dying with plenty of water.
"I also think we need to reach an agreement about "deep wells." In my mind the only deep wells in Pine are: Strawberry Hollow, Milk Ranch 1, 2, 3 and the one drilled by Pine Creek Canyon Domestic Water Improvement District (Portals 4)."
The term "deep wells" I used has to be taken in context. I said "the developers dug deeper wells than the 30 to 50 foot deep wells that existed." So i was only calling them "deep" in relation to the 30 to 50 foot dug wells. Does that clear it up?
The purpose of the posts I put up was to bridge the time from the earliest wells, through the first water companies, to the arrival of Brooke. Nothing in them should be taken to have anything to do with those times after the purchase of the water company.
You are, of course, right about the ACC being present at those meetings. Some of the small water companies all around Arizona were bought up by corporations, hence they fell under the Corporate Commission, which is a watchdog agency which works in our behalf — and does a pretty good job of it too. I should probably add, before someone reads that comment and thinks it has something to do with PSWID as it is today; PSWID is not a corporation, and does not fall under the ACC (we get a lot of comments in the letters saying that the ACC should solve the problems up here).
"He stated that Arizona goes in 20 year cycles of drought and sufficient precipitation."
What he said was an over-simplification of a very complex matter. It relates — but only in part — to the sun's sunspot cycle, but it is such an oversimplification that it is almost valueless. Even the scientists who watch such cycles the closest are often wrong in their predictions; there are just too many variables, and some of them are poorly understood.
Since this falls in physics, which is my secondary field, and since I read boring little no advertisement things like Science News when I can, I might as well digress a little and give you all a little early news of something something you'll be hearing about as soon as it makes its way out of the scientific journals and into the nightly news.
It just coincidentally happens that the sunspot cycle is at its lowest output in nearly four hundred years. What does that mean to us? Well, to put it in a very down and dirty way, sunspots are dar areas on the sun's surface. Dark areas don't shed as much light as other areas, so.....
Scientists are watching the sun carefully. The number of sunspots is very low. The last time this occurred was between in the 17th century and 18th centuries. Ever read one of the old accounts of our ancestors settling New England? It sounds like they are living in a refrigerator, at the beginning of what has been come to be known as the Little Ice Age.
The Little Ice Age affected North America and Europe, but I have no idea what happened elsewhere. It might be about to happen again, Who knows? The odd thing about it is that back just 6 or 7 years ago scientists were saying that this sunspot cycle would be one of the biggest ever. The sun will do what the sun will do, of course. We just get to watch.
"Therefore, I believe the drought rather than drilling deep wells created the tree loss problem. Remember in drought years, the growth marks on a tree will be very small."
I hate to have to disagree with you Bernice, but a tree like a pine, once it reaches its middle height of about 60 to 70 feet is safe from what we would call a "drought," which is a temporary thing related to surface water. Trees put down roots that by and large go down as far as they have to go to reach the natural water table, and then spread out from there. A simple drop in rainfall over a period of few years, while it may be catastrophic to you and me, has little effect on mature trees. The water table remains virtually constant.
BUT! You come into an area and suddenly drill 350 foot deep wells to accommodate a surge in civilized population along with the surge in water use and you are stressing trees beyond their ability to handle the sudden drop in the water table. They simply cannot put down their roots fast enough. Roots follow water, and a dry area can be created between the depth their roots had reached and the now much lower water table. Trees begin to dry, they lose their natural protection from things like bark beetles, and many of them die.
You can actually verify what I am saying by just going out and looking at a pine that was cut down about that time — if it was old enough to show at least 75 to 100 years of growth. Do you have any stumps? It would be fun (well, not maybe; it's a sad thing to to see trees dying) to look at the tree rings and see that sudden drop in water supply. It does not, by the way, match the rainfall amounts except over long periods of time.
We here in the Rim Country are sitting on a natural interface, the point at which the pines end and the more drought resistant trees like junipers take over. Junipers, believe it or not, put their roots down as much as 100 feet, so they can exist here, while pines are iffy.
I better say something about the water table because people always think of it as a flat layer of water underground. It isn't. It actually follows the lay of the land, although it is naturally not as close to the surface in the higher areas.
Gee! Our day for Physics AND Botany . :-)
Personally, I suspect there was more to Project Magnolia than we realized. Strawberry, being higher than Pine, is an unlikely place for a large water supply. The "water rich Strawberry" we were told about was probably a result of simple under-population. What was Brooke up to? Who knows? P.M. really solved nothing, but it did make it easier for Brooke to haul in water and pump it uphill to Strawberry, where the ACC had not yet approved water hauling charges, and then charge the water hauling charges to Pine. I hate to be suspicious, but....
When Pat talks about a large water hauling charge at a time when she had used NO water, it makes sense to wonder if someone was cooking the books. :-)
When people start talking about droughts I turn to the comic strips. What's a drought? Less rain than there was before. Before when? Before now. Well, were we in the high part of a cycle before? Or are we in the low part of a cycle now? Or is it just a local phenomenon? And why is it happening? Why did we have an ice age? How come people could live in Greenland from 1100 AD to 1400 AD, but we can't live there now? No one can answer those questions. They stretch back tens of thousands of years, long before we were here, and melting pieces of ice in Greenland isn't going to give us many answers. So why ask why we are in a "drought?" Are we are in one? No one really knows. Give us another thousand years on the planet and we may have gathered enough data to have some idea how this place works.
Doesn't mean we shouldn't try to stop from screwing up the planet any more than we have, but the devil with the so-called "evidence." The only real evidence we have is a rain gauge and a thermometer, and they tell what happened yesterday, not tomorrow. The smart thing to do is to forget about theories and do everything we can to prevent an easily foreseeable catastrophe. Otherwise we'll still be arguing about it when we standing on two square feet of earth apiece and up to our butts in salt water a hundred miles inland from where the coasts are now.
Re the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, what I know about meteorological cycles you could stick in your eye and you wouldn't even notice it. I know it has something to do with El Nino et al, and the temperature cycle of the North Pacific, but there my knowledge ends. I don't pretend to have a clue what they are talking about when it comes to such things. Besides, that stuff is just descriptive, not predictive, by which I mean it tells you what happened — but not why.
Pat, you put your finger on a truth. If an area is settled and wells are driven into the water table and lower it too far, trees which can't extend their roots fast enough will die. Putting water on mature trees at the surface of the soil just doesn't solve the problem. It would have to somehow be sent deeper down, where the growing roots are located. It's the tiny little still-growing roots hairs that take in the water.
I don't mind paying for something I get, but when they charged $80. hauling fee plus the monthly fee that was the breaking point. There was not a drop of water used at the house that month.
They will have a hard time charging me for anything now as I had the meter taken out.
As for the tree conversation, we had to have 5 really large Pine trees cut down near our house in Pine as the roots were growing under the house and raising up the concrete floor. The roof finally started to raise off the wall. I ask my husband if he wanted pine trees or a house. The trees were cut, the wood stacked by the fence. We used one log. . Soon it was all gone. We didn't use it. Hope who ever took it that winter about 10 yrs or so ago enjoyed the heat. It cost us over a thousand dollars to have them cut.
Oh well s--- happens.
Pat, after hearing your story about the pine roots and your house, maybe I should be thankful that we had to have 13 trees removed from our property due to bark beatle infestation which was made possible due to the drought. :-) :-)
On a more serious side, what did you have to do to repair the damage to your house?
I'll tell you what, Bernice, knowing Pat she probably just lifted up the other side of the house. :-)
It's truly incredible what tree roots can do. The pressure created by a growing root is called "osmotic pressure," and all it is is the slight pressure caused by the fact that the water (sap) inside the root has more minerals in it than the water outside it. What happens is that water passes both ways through a root (or through a tea bag for that matter) but MORE water passes inward than outward because slower moving molecules of minerals block some of the inside pores, so the net gain is inward. You can do the same thing by just taking the tea out of a tea bag, putting some salt in it, and sticking it in some water. Soon, the tea bag will begin to expand until it is as tight as a balloon.
You can use this tiny bit of science for some useful things. For example, the air in a refrigerator is often dry enough to cause lettuce or celery to wilt. There's nothing really wrong with the lettuce or celery; it has just lost a little water. Just stick it in a bowl or pan of lightly salted water and it will be as firm and crunchy as ever.
And no, the salt doesn't go into the celery or lettuce. That's why it gets firm again; because the water can pass in, but the salt can't.
By the way, Bernice, it's probable that it was the drop in the water table that did your trees in, but other things kill trees, things people never realize are happening.
I have often seen trees die "mysteriously" after a driveway or sidewalk was put in close to a tree. What happens, in addition to the fact that water may not be able to get to the roots, is that roots have to breathe. They will die in dry soil because dry soil has no oxygen in it.
Or if the sidewalk or driveway happen to cause water to pool the roots may die because they again do not get oxygen, this time because the water beneath the driveway or sidewalk is a blockage to air.
Also, drives and sidewalks which pass by trees kill them at times by taking away the support on one side. The roots grow on the other side, but not on the covered side, the tree begins to lean, becomes unstable, and is either killed because it falls or simply because the thousands of tiny little "pipes" (xylem vessels) that feed trees go all the way up from root to leaf one one side; the water and minerals do not pass over to the other side.
By that I mean that you can have all the water you want on one side of a tree, but if there isn't water on the other side, the dry side will die, and the tree may also die.
Trees are fascinating things. They do things we can't do. For example, you can take a hand pump like the ones used on old wells and you can pump your brains out but you will not get water to go higher than 34 feet because that's as high as the pressure created by the whole doggone 100 mile high atmosphere produces can move it, the whole 100 miles column of air weighs just 15 pounds per square inch.
But a tree, not knowing that, may grow hundreds of feet high.
Want to know how it does it? It creates a tiny, teeny column of water in each xylem vessel that is unbroken, and as one molecule of water goes out of a leaf another one comes in at the roots. The column of water starts as one little tube in a tiny seedling and slowly grows with the tree, never, even breaking. That column of unbroken water is VERY hard to break; it is as strong as a piece of mild steel, and you just can't pull it apart.
BUT! Each species of tree has a limit to how high it can haul that water up to its leaves or needles. When it reaches that height, it is doomed; it will die. What sad thing! It says that we must either grow or die.
It's also why trees can die if they freeze in winter. The water turn to ice and breaks the solid column of water.
Want to do something stupid but educational next spring?
Get an awl — or anything that is thin and pointy; an ice pick will do — and go outside next spring as the sap is rising and the trees are getting ready to bloom. Find a deciduous tree (one with leaves) with thin bark, such as a peach, pear, or apple. At about waist height is best. Stab the tree. Pull out the awl. Put your ear to the hole. You'll hear a sucking sound as the sap falls and draws in air. You just broke the water column in a couple of xylem vessel. Don't worry, it won't hurt the tree; otherwise I wouldn't tell you to do it. There are millions of other xylem vessels.
Gee! More botany. Anybody wanna join a science discussion group? :-)
Science is nothing more than the description of things that were created by Someone a great deal wiser than we are.
Thanks Tom that is a lot of interesting information. Appreciate you taking the time to educate us :-)
Believe it or not the roof and bricks all settled back together and we would have had to tear up a lot of the house to fix the cracks. It fixed it self.
I know that sounds strange especially to Tom.
It broke my heart to have the trees cut they were really tall, healthy, pine trees over 40 yrs. old.
You're welcome, Pam. I had to learn all that stuff for my undergraduate degree, but it was always beyond anything I was supposed to teach. Sure helped when Lolly and I were landscaping our place though. For one thing, I chose pavers instead of solid walks in some places. That didn't hurt the trees. The entrance walk to our little house from the circular drive passes right between a pair of magnificent pines.
"It broke my heart to have the trees cut..."
Ah, yes. It hurts when we have to harm the very things we came up here to be among. The person to blame, though, is not yourself. It's the person who planned the layout of the house. Most of the time a little careful planning will solve the problem before it starts. For one thing, roots follow water, and if good planning prevents water from getting under a foundation (in the first five or six feet) tree roots won't go under the foundation.
Want to have some fun? Take a gallon plastic bag. Put a couple of wet paper towels in it, lying flat. Before you wet the paper towels draw a horizontal line on them with some vaseline, making the line about four inches wide and about two thirds of the way down the towels. Then, about halfway down the bag, plant a couple of lima beans. Watch the beans sprout, the stem grow upward and the root grow downward — but take a big detour around the strip of dry paper where the vaseline is. So if a foundation is properly planned, and laid so that it is dry under the house, roots won't harm it.
It's fun to watch a plant grow like that. You don't usually see the roots grow, but now you can. And you can plant the plant when spring comes and eat real raw lima beans!
And you can't fool the lima bean either. Even if you plant it upside down the root will come out, make a right angle turn and go downward, and the stem will pop out and grow upward.
You can't fool mother nature!
No one dreamed the roots would go that far out away from the trees, roots are supposed to go down.
"...roots are supposed to go down."
Not really, Pat. As a rule of thumb the spread of the roots is about the same as the spread of the tree limbs on a regular tree. And on desert plants the roots of some plants don't go down much as all. A saguaro, for example, spreads most of its roots right near the surface to catch the occasional rainfall. That's why they are so easy to push over.
Here's an amazing thing that most people don't know about trees. Something like 95% of a tree is dead. The only live part is the thin cambium layer under the bark, plus the leaves, of course. All the wood is dead, for example; so is the bark. The live part of a tree is right under the bark. There are live cells there that are producing xylem vessels (wood) and phloem vessels that carry nutrients (sap) down to the roots et al. The wood is dead once the cells that produce xylem cells finish their work. Wood just acts like a huge handful of thin straws.
The easiest way to kill a tree is to cut out a one inch strip of the bark and the thin slick layer under it. The tree will die because its roots are getting no "food" (sap). What is odd is that the part above the one inch strip may live for a few years, and the tree may get thicker above it, but the death of the tree is inevitable.
You're a regular walking encyclopedia . Must be that science teacher in you. Still "teaching after all these years";-). To support what you said about the structure of trees, my good friend and neighbor back when I lived in Cali was a nationally certified arborist. He once told me that trees are pretty much shaped like barbells with the root system being fairly equal to the canopy with the trunk being the bar. The "drip line" of the canopy will usually delineate the scope of the root field. I do think what Pat is referring to is those trees that have "tap roots" that do go almost straight down a line prescribed by the tree's trunk. But the roots that sustain the trees are numerous and tend to the smallish side all things being equal.
And about the "girdling" of the cambium layer, elk and deer experts at that when they are polishing their antlers
You right about the elk and deer, especially when it comes to trees with soft bark. Back when I was a kid and first arrived in Connecticut I could not for the life of me figure out who the "vandal" was who did a number on some white birches out near one of the lakes. Didn't dawn on me until I saw all those little "beans" one day.
Barbell! Good analogy. Perfect description. And that bit about the "drip line" is right on the money. You can really see that in the jungles out in the Far East. Almost all the leaves have pointed ends to drop the rain straight down where the growing roots are.
As for talking about all this stuff, it's probably frustration from learning it all and never getting to tell the kids about it. I doubt they would have been much interested in trees though. Of course I could have tried putting a skirt and bra on a bush, but I don't think it would have worked. Come to think of it, the only time I remember the junior high kids showing any interest in trees was when I mentioned in one class that some trees are dioecious and so there are male trees and female trees. I could just see their little brains working. :-)
Tom, I would like to go back to a comment you made 6 days ago which went, "Water companies were formed at a time developers were worried about lawsuis and a threatened iniative which would have stopped development in :Pine unless water was supplied free of charge to anyone whose shallow well ran dry after a deep well was drilled. Developers began connecting nearby homes to there water systems, . . . " Were homes actually supplied with water free of charge? Do you know if they are still being supplied free of charge today? What about official records?
Also, I am wondering who started this initiative?
I only know that from word of mouth told to be by someone I knew back when we first got here and who has since died. All I know is what he said, which was that many wells ran dry when the water company drew down the water table, and there were some VERY irate people — as you can imagine. There is, for example, a dug well located in the southwest corner of the lot behind me. As far as I know, no one except me even knows it is there. It became disused when the water company laid a line for this small development.
You could try doing a search through local records. How? Beats me.
Pat, I got the impression from the person I am talking about — you no doubt know who I mean — that the initiative was almost a done deal but had not yet been officially begun. It would have been back around — oh, I don't know; I've forgotten the actual dates — sometime in the 60's or 70's I guess? You remember anything about that?
Were you here then, Bernice?
No, I wasn't here in the 60's and 70's. I was back in La Grange Park, Illinois. We arrived in Pine about the late 90's, when the owner of the water companies before Brooke was literally being tarred and feathered. We arrived in Arizona about 79.
We were given the house after my father in-law died in 1984. He built it in the late 50's I think. I don't know anything about the water deals made up there. We have never lived in the house except for one summer. We moved around on road construction and then I settled in Mesa when our oldest son started school. We would spend a few days there and that was all.
Don't know anything about all the water fighting.
I could probably give you some names that know all about it but don't want to lose friends.
Notice I did not say relatives. We have never talked about water, it never came up.
Bernice, except for the fact that I came here in 1958 and saw the place where I hoped to retire isome day, you and I have about the same history where the Rim Country is concerned. I originally retired from the Air Force in 1973 with every intention of coming here, but I got waylaid in 1975 as I was leaving college by a rich Texas school district that offered me four to five times what I could have earned here. They also gave Lolly a job as a school secretary to get me to sign with them. We decided it would be wise to work there for ten years or so to save a little money because Air Force pay had not been much. Lolly's sister and husband knew where we intended to end up, so Peter, who worked at Heathrow in London, wangled a job as Manager of Terminal Four at Sky Harbor. That settled it! We moved to Mesa the next school year (1983/84) and didn't get in the ten years we each needed for a Texas retirement, but it was worth it. In a year or so we knew where we were going to retire up here and build. The minute I reached 65 we retired and came here. Been here since.
"I could probably give you some names that know all about it but don't want to lose friends."
It's all ancient history anyway. I just brought it up to clear up a few misconceptions.
You know all that people really want out of this? They just want to get back to a situation where they run their own lives. That's all. Things got screwed up in that direction a few years back, and now they are about to get straightened out. They are never going to be perfect, but the sooner people are back in control of their own lives the better. It's too bad all this had to happen, but once the board is up and running again people will forget all about it. That's all that people want. They want to run their own water company their own way. Whether they live here full time or come up here to enjoy a break from the heat of the valley, they just want to feel that they are in control of their own future. Hey! They paid for the water company, and are still paying for it, so why should they run it? It's theirs, isn't it? Once the people are running the water company the anger will dissipate and this mess will be forgotten.
I agree, Tom. In the meantime the Gila County Board of Supervisors (BOS) has a big job sorting through all of the information in order to get a handle on things. While the BOS is sorting through I hope that BOS will go ahead with what the PSWID approved at its September 12 meeting. It had been brought to PSWID's attention that ADEQ will pay an independent contractor to do a cursory evaluation of the water system. This evaluation would be free of charge to PSWID. I hope the BOS will allow the evaluation to take place. We also need to become more informed about WIFA and what has to be done to qualify for a grant or loan. I hope BOS can help in this area. I hope BOS will also invite community participation in setting the 2014-15 PSWID budget.
I know the BOS already has a full schedule with County wide matters. However, I am hopeful that they will have the time to do right by PSWID.
I am glad that Tommie Cline Martin is involved in all this. She has proven herself to be the best. I have yet to see her make a decision that I could not applaud. We are lucky to have her. I feel confident that she will work with the other County Supervisors to find a viable solution to the current mess.
My opinion? We need a period of time, as long as possible, for things to calm down. I'd like to see the County find some way to divest itself of a problem that was dumped in its lap by the resignations which, though understandable since it could not feel good to have people screaming for your recall when you think you have done a good job, has created an odd problem, one which may not have been foreseen.
There are ways that a low-key, strictly temporary solution could be put in place. One way would be to appoint a temporary board member — someone who would focus solely on the day-to-day operation of the water company, thereby stabilizing the situation — and let the board run the water company again. That way there would be no need for a recall election and the County would save $20,000. Nor would there be any other expenses. Plus which, The County would be off the hook.
The question of who should serve on the board could — and should — be taken up during the next regular election in November, after people have had time to think through what needs to be done. It would give everyone involved time to sit back, think, and reflect, time to mend fences, time to reconsider — all things we need.
No one will ever convince me that any situation is entirely black and white. I have seen the PSWID board do some good things, and I think that what we need to do is to get the board running again and just let it run. The resignations have done away with the need for a recall election, making it possible for the county to step in and appoint someone to fill the vacant third chair, allowing PSWID to run itself during the interim period between now and the regular election in November, and letting heads cool.
That way we could lift ourselves by our own bootstraps and solve our own problems without burdening the County with something that is not truly its problem. The only caveat I would apply is this: Board, when you get back up and running please stick to the water supply business. That's what we need you for. Let next November take care of itself next November.
And if that third board member is appointed that's what we should do on this forum, and elsewhere, as well: Let the board run. Let next November take care of itself next November.
Doesn't that sound like a practical, reasonable, and eminently doable solution?
Just attended the Gila County Board of Supervisors Meeting today. According to Tommie Cline Martin, the BOS CANNOT APPOINT anyone to sit on the PSWID board. However, the Arizona Statutes seem to state that the BOS can appoint people. I think we need to find a lawyer who is willing to help.
Instead of wasting money on lawyers, look It up your self. You can probably find it in Arizona Revised Statutes or at least that is a good place to start.
Gila County Rules or Board of Education are two other places to look. Just a thought.
Seems this is all going to reach the Supreme Court before it is over. (:
We have read the statutes. However, if the Gila County BOS board member, Tommie Martin denies that they have the power to appoint, what do you suggest?
Ask Tommie to show you the law or whatever she is getting her information from.
It has to be in writing somewhere and a matter of public record.
Maybe I can feed a few facts into this discussion which will help.
I've read the statutes. I read them right after Ray Pugel happened to quote the wrong ones, for which I do not fault him; the numbers are very much alike. He was talking about a cooling off period and said, "...Arizona Revised Code 48-1082 and 48-1086 so that we may have a year of calm reflection and constructive debate prior to the 2014 general elections.”
Those two statutes happen to refer to something other than water improvement districts,
but as you can see, someone may have given Ray the numbers and meant to say "...Arizona Revised Code 48-1012 and 48-1016..." Anyway, somewhere in copying the number down and quoting them some wires got crossed. I only mention that because if you go looking up the statutes and look at the wrong ones, even though they are much alike, it won't add much light to this discussion.
Anyway, those are the statutes which apply. I'll put them up so you can read them for yourself. Then I'll ask you a question which may — I'm no legal expert — help to explain part of the current confusion. Okay?
I have to make a judgment as to which parts of each statute apply to this discussion. If I make an error I'll take responsibility for it, but here's what I think you need to see.
"48-1012. Elected board of directors; initial members; qualifications; terms; filling vacancy; chairperson; qualifications of electors"
"C. If a vacancy in the district board occurs due to death or disability or any other cause other than resignation, the board of directors of the district shall appoint a qualified elector of the district to fill the office for the remaining portion of that term. If there is a vacancy in the district board due to resignation, the district board shall accept the resignation and appoint a qualified elector to fill the remaining portion of that term of office. If the district board lacks a quorum for any reason for more than thirty days, the county board of supervisors may revoke the authority of the appointed or elected board of directors pursuant to section 48-1016."
"48-1016. Revocation of authority of elected board of directors"
"The board of supervisors of the county in which a domestic water improvement district or domestic wastewater improvement district is located may at any time revoke the authority of an elected board of directors in order to protect the residents of the district. Any district in which the authority of an elected board of directors is revoked pursuant to this section shall be governed by the board of supervisors as provided by section 48-908 and the board of supervisors shall have the option of calling for new elections for the district board of directors."
One more piece of the puzzle:
"48-908. Board of directors; expenses"
"Unless established pursuant to section 48-903, subsection F, districts organized under this article shall be governed by the board of supervisors of the county in which the district is situated and the board of supervisors shall be deemed to be the board of directors of the district. The directors shall receive no compensation for their services as such except as provided pursuant to section 48-1013 but shall be reimbursed for their necessary expenses in attending district meetings."
Reading all that, I think you'll all agree that the question of whether or not the County can appoint someone to the PSWID board depends upon whether or not the PSWID board still exists.
So, did CBOS do this? "...revoke the authority of an elected board of directors in order to protect the residents of the district." (In accordance with 48-1016.)
There are a couple of "ifs" in all that legalese, and I'll leave it to someone else to dig around where they are concerned, but if the PSWID board has been dissolved in accordance with all those "ifs" then there is no PSWID board.
Which would mean that, "...districts organized under this article shall be governed by the board of supervisors of the county in which the district is situated and the board of supervisors shall be deemed to be the board of directors of the district."
Which would mean that Tommie Cline Martin is correct in what she says.
It wouldn't be the first time.
All of this "he said, she said" is a waste of time. We need to have everyone focused on what will be the best for PSWID and the Pine/Strawberry community. As I said earlier, I hope the BOS will allow the ADEQ evaluation to take place, I hope they will get us a master plan, I hope we can have citizen input on the 2014-15 budget and I hope they won't have a bond issue without voter approval.
It would also be good if they could clear up some of the issues that have gotten people so upset.
We need to stop arguing!
"We need to stop arguing!" Boy, can I agree to that. Both sides need to cool the rhetoric, put personalities aside and get on with addressing the needs of these two communities.
"...I hope they will get us a master plan, I hope we can have citizen input on the 2014-15 budget and I hope they won't have a bond issue without voter approval.
It would also be good if they could clear up some of the issues that have gotten people so upset."
I'm sorry, Bernice, but some of that is exactly what we DO NOT want. I know you may not have realized what you were saying when you wrote "clear up...issues" and "get a master plan," but what it says in essence is that you want CBOS to step in on one side or the other of the exact issues which have so badly divided this community.
It would be patently unfair of us to ask CBOS to come in and start making decisions that we should make for ourselves. Not only is that our responsibility, not theirs, but it would be political suicide. What would happen is that the minute CBOS began making decisions of that nature they would inherit the very anger and divisiveness we are trying to shed.
Let CBOS take over the routine day-to-day running of the water district so that matters proceed quietly and smoothly until an election occurs. We have a good maintenance and operations team, one which will carry on without the board until there is time to form a new one. All we need is a reliable, trustworthy, experienced elected body with the authority to make necessary routine decisions in the interim. That's CBOS.
The big decisions? Should PSWID join the United Nations? Should we attempt to put a man on Mars? Leave them alone until we are up and running on our own again. We have all the time in the world to assess future needs. There is no current emergency, and so no must-make-them-now decisions which cannot wait a few months.
Obviously, I — and everyone else — agrees with part of what you said. Have confidence in CBOS, Bernice. There will be no bond issues without voter approval. There will be plenty of voter input on future budgets. We can all relax about such matters. CBOS no doubt has enough to do, and bigger fish to fry. From what I gather, CBOS is only going to act as a temporary caretaker government for our tiny little water district until we can get our act together.
You know what? I think we'll all be very happy when we turn on a faucet, water comes out, and we think nothing of it. That, I have absolute faith, is an achievable goal if we take things one step at a time.
Slow, cautious, and with identifiable positive results/effect. One point I might differ on is"...we'll all be very happy when we turn on a faucet, water comes out, and we think nothing of it." Right up until the end of the month when we get the bill for that water. Not so sure everyone will ever be happy with the costs. The water I get today is no different or available than when I first moved here. water always came out of the tap when turned on, but the costs are now quite a bit more.
Back in the seventies everyone in Arizona was required to register their wells and any other water rights they had or they would lose them. We owned a ranch west of the Doll Baby and we registered our well and the irrigation rights we had from the East Verde. So no one is supposed to be able to take any of it. Some of the people in Pine had water irrigation rights from Pine Creek, and could use a certain amount when they wanted it as long as they registered back then. Don't know if that is still in effect, never know what the politicians are up to.
Just thought I would throw out the registration bit to confuse those who didn't know about it. (:
Tom, do you know that the "in exile" (don't know what to call it maybe "former" would be better) PSWID Board approved an agreement with the managing company to prepare a master plan? So, I guess you are saying that the work on the master plan should be put off until after an election? I think I can see the wisdom in that. However, we have waited so long for a master plan that I hate to think it might be another year or two before it is completed.
Ron, you are right while we have plenty of water, the water rates just might have some water users self imposing water use restrictions. We have had some steep increases, let's hope we can hold off on more increases for a few years. And, like you, we always had water coming out of the tap before and after the water company purchase.
Pat, I think people still have to register their wells.
Bernice, at that very last PSWID meeting, the board voted and signed off on the "go-ahead" for the Master Plan. There is a recording of the meeting. I believe that it will still go forward without the board, especially since the company handling the Master Plan is the same company that manages the PSWID water district. Supervision will have to be done by the Gila Country BOS.
Thank you, Tom for posting the actual statutes and you interpretation. I think I have a better understanding of them.
Just a note, a discussion on a blog is not an argument. Opinions, ideas and facts are shared and responses/comments are given and that is what makes blogs interesting. I was sharing my understanding of the statutes and what Tommie Martin told me at the last meeting. It was not an attempt to invite any arguments.
Well, no one can argue with you there, Ron, but we asked for that when we voted to buy the water company instead of letting Brooke drill a well.
"Don't know if that is still in effect...."
"Just thought I would throw out the registration bit to confuse those who didn't know about it. (:"
Bernice, Here's all the master plan we need.
Run the water company as what it is, a day to day operation whose purpose is to supply water to those who own it. Period!
This is not some great metropolitan district where plans have to be made for the future. This area has just about reached the its limit to sustain a viable population. There are no jobs here except those which involved service to those live here. None are coming. There is no reason for people to move here. In fact, in my opinion you would be out of your mind to move to an area which is pumping fossil water. Arizona is mining water and if we start pumping out too much fossil water from the underground reservoirs laid down ten of thousands of years ago, and the current, slowly advanced drought continues, the result will be a sudden, catastrophic end to the viability of this water-poor area to support its current population. If we are really in a global warming period — something that would be very hard to deny, wouldn't it? — then we may already have exceeded the carrying capacity of this desert land. Look around you. What do you see? Dying forests. A drop in the water table. Rainfall numbers spiraling downward. What more does it take to make people realize that we are treading a fine line.
The only "plan" we need is to do the absolute best we can to stay right where we are without losing what we have. Grandiose plans that benefit only those who can move away without loss are not what we need.
"It was not an attempt to invite any arguments."
Didn't think it was. I deal in facts, speckled with an occasion interpretation of those facts. With that kind of mindset there's no such thing as an argument. Joe Friday. :-)
I have long said that because we live in an arid environment, they call it the desert Southwest for a reason, that this region simply does not have the carrying capacity of population that they have in the regions to the East of us. I subscribed for some time to a monthly magazine called Southwest Hydrology. Pretty technical as it was targeted at those whose specialty is studying water trends, whether availability or quality of any given source. The information published there-in has led me to the conclusion that at some point, some politician with great big cajones, is going to have to stand up and announce that the "carrying capacity" of this region has exceeded it's ability to provide for those already here, therefore all those citizens who live somewhere else and wish to move to this area simply cannot. The population densities that can be sustained in regions such as we see back East simply cannot be accommodated in this region. I patiently wait and watch. I may not live to see it reach it's apex, but from everything I studied, in light of the previous and current demographic shifts in this nation, it is coming. Now if the "Super Volcano" that underlies Yellowstone lets go in the meantime, all bets are off. ;-)
Ron, I think you have said what many people believe i.e. the amount of water available in an area should determine the size of the population????????????? or, water supply should be taken into account when planning future development????????????
I think we up here have a little better appreciation for water than so many in major metropolitan environs. I know personally that when I lived in SoCal, I gave very little thought to the water service. Being a firefighter where water is our tool of choice, I learned quite a lot about it's supply and distribution, but never gave much thought to the possibility it could go away. As we have and are experiencing right here in our own little slice of the world, there is not now nor has there ever been anything more contentious than access/availability to water. We have the technology to know where it is and in what quantities, but we seldom use that knowledge to make our growth and planning decisions. It's more about how much potential $$$$ can be made via those planning decisions in the near term, not what the abuse of our water resources will have on the quality of life. We need to correct those attitudes. Quickly!
It is the county that approves the buildings in your area. They are probably like Payson.
Ariz. Water Dept. gives a report on the water and Payson ignores them. There are subdivisions here in Payson that a water report was made stating there was not enough water for a hundred year plan or whatever it is called. But buyers were not shown the reports and the Real Estate people kept selling the property and Payson kept giving building permits knowing there was not enough water. GREED.
Now Payson is selling water they don't really have yet and may never get.
Pat et al, here is a direct quote from Gila County when I called them all the way back when the water company belonged to Brooke.
"We do not consider water when issuing building permits."
In other words, "If you want a nanny government, go back east."
It's up to us to determine our fate. We have to face facts. The water we are pumping out of the ground was touted as "fossil water" back when it was speculated that it was down there at the deep levels we are pumping. The comment at the time was that it was deposited sometime before twenty to fifty thousand years ago in a layer of fractured rock lying deep below Pine and Strawberry.
Finding that water is like finding a vein of gold. No one is his right mind expects a gold vein to last forever, and no one in his right mind should expect the water we are now drinking to last forever either. Ron is right when he says that this area has already exceeded its capacity to supply the people who are here. The proof of that is that we can no longer supply ourselves with the rainfall we get. The numbers do not lie. We do NOT get enough rain to supply our needs. We must go to sources that were laid down thousands of years ago, and that water is not NOT being replaced at the same rate we are using it. That cannot last forever. We most put the the brakes on NOW!
The only master plan we need is one to make the precious water we have stretch as long as we can. We have to establish a water budget and live within it! Why should people who are paying for a water company create a master plan whose purpose is to increase the population to the point where their water runs out?
Consider this: It was 53 years ago that my brother Bill was handed a paper saying that the land he was about to buy up here did not have a 100 year water supply. He was here on a national guard exercise and was impressed by the fact that you could be sweating down in the valley and could drive 125 miles and be skiing. He passed on the land because he predicted exactly what is happening now. People who do not want to stay back east will have to go somewhere where there is enough water to handle the growth. They can't come here.
We have all been handed those pieces of paper. I got one, and so did you. It's time to pay attention to what they say. Just look around you. You think all those trees are dying because they are being over-watered? You think all that news about global warming is something someone made up?
As Ron says, there is a time to face reality. For us, this is it!
To make the point as well as I can make it, just look back at Payson a few years ago. Out of water. No prospects. In deep trouble. Payson found itself a one-in-a-million temporary solution, and the people of Payson should get down on their knees and thank those who worked so hard to get it for them.
We too have a temporary solution. Let's thank those who got it for us, sit down, use some common sense, and make the hard decisions. Now!
Tom, please read Deb's comment. One of the last things the resigned PSWID Board did was approve an agreement with its current management company to come up with a master plan. Is that agreement for a master plan going to be put on the back burner or are they going to proceed with it? Who decides the fate of the resigned board's decision? The citizens of Pine/Strawberry might not have any say in the matter.
Should we worry about a master plan? Will the citizens have Pine/Strawberry have the right to decide whether or not to accept the master plan? Since we are going to be paying for it, I believe we do have a right to decide whether or not a master plan is accepted.
Bernice, if the management company was given the task of coming up with a master plan, then that is what it would normally do, but these are not normal times. Since the board that directed the management company to write a master plan has resigned, and so no longer exists, its plans for the future no longer exist, and the management company would be wasting its time writing a master plan at this time.
You see, a master plan, or any plan, is written to achieve a set of goals. The people who have the decision-making power set goals; then they either write a plan to achieve those goals, or — as apparently happened in this case — they assign someone else the job of writing it, perhaps because there are technical questions to be addressed. The resigned board had goals, of course, but the people who elected them did not agree with those goals. That's a major reason why the recall effort was taking place. People did not like the future that was being planned for them.
If I were running the management company I would place any thoughts of a master plan aside for the moment. It would be a complete waste of time and effort for the them to do a study of how — say — to spend a $7.5 million dollar loan the people of Pine and Strawberry do not want. Why plan to accomplish goals with which the people disagree? Why waste your time? The new board which will take over after the election will set its own goals, and those will control the writing the "master plan," if any is needed.
I see what you are worried about, of course. You're worried that someone may come up with a master plan, ram it through before the election, and sit back and laugh at the effort of the citizens of our two small communities to decide their own fate. But that is not going to happen. Tommie Cline Martin, and the other members of CBOS, are not going to get involved in the very issues which caused the recall effort. They're here to hold the fort while tempers cool down; not to make matters worse. I think that we can all have confidence in them, believing that that they will simply take care of those matters which must be handled on a day-to-day basis, leaving long-term issues to be handled after the forthcoming election.
"Who decides the fate of the resigned board's decision?"
The newly elected board.
"Should we worry about a master plan?"
I wouldn't. It's a dead issue. How can a plan to meet the goals of a resigned board be of any importance?
"Will the citizens have Pine/Strawberry have the right to decide whether or not to accept the master plan?"
Sure — there ever is one. If nothing else, the people running for election on the new board will make the master plan — should one need to be written, which I doubt — a campaign issue. One reason I doubt that a master plan will be written is because it would focus the upcoming campaign on issues which made people very angry. That's not wise.
I'll add just a little more....
Bernice, I sense a certain concern in your questions, one regarding what will happen between now and the time a new board is elected — in other words about the interim during which the County Board of Supervisors takes over as a caretaker government for PSWID. If that's what is worrying you, then my advice would to just speak up at the forthcoming meeting in January, voice your concerns, and sit back and listen to the answers.
I could be wrong, but I don't think you will be disappointed.
Tom, you hit the nail on the head "regarding what will happen between now and the time a new board is elected" As I recall the last time the BOS ran the district they appointed John Nelson to be the administrator of the district who in turn hired HDJ Management Harry Jones, Mr. Gliege (Lawyer) and other consultants. During that time, and this was before Pine and Strawberry Water Companies were purchased, $227,000 was spent from PSWID funds.
Actions were taken before the ACC, and regular citizens were left in the dark. There was an Advisory Group formed which included developers and realtors along with a few other citizens. Some of those citizens stopped attending the closed door meetings because they consisted of vindictive bash Brooke sessions and were not focused on the intent of PSWID which was to find water. Other citizens drove to Globe and tried to find out what expenses were being incurred and on what. Notices were posted in the newspaper with the PSWID heading which were in fact incorrectly attributed to PSWID.
Only one public meeting was held in Pine and Ron Christensen (former Supervisor) was dictatorial and not interested in any topics which were counter to what he wanted to hear. At the end of the day a lot of money was spent, no minutes were available for any decisions made in Globe, the lawyer, consultants etc. were paid, mobile phone bills were covered yet no effort was made to inform the public via PSWID website and even the PSWID P.O, Box was allowed to lapse.
Has anyone ever wondered why the word "Domestic" is not included in the PSWID title?
Back when the district was formed it was made very clear in the Gila County BOS minutes accepting the petition, what the district was and was not. Ron Christensen clearly stated that the purpose was to find water and that the District was not a purveyor of water. In 2003 before the ACC a written statement/testimony was presented by John Gliege (lawyer) in which John Nelson County Manager said that the District was not a Domestic Water Improvement District but it could be if certain legal actions were carried out. He was in fact referring to ARS 48-1018. Conversion of county improvement district to domestic water improvement district or domestic wastewater improvement district. In other words a purveyor of water. Here is part of the ARS 48-1018.
1. A board of supervisors, by resolution, may order conversion of a county improvement district into a domestic water improvement district or a domestic wastewater improvement district after a public hearing conducted with not less than twenty days' notice mailed to the owners of real property in the county improvement district as shown on the most recent property tax assessment roll.
2. The owners of at least fifty per cent of the property that is subject to an assessment to pay for existing improvements within a county improvement district may petition the board of supervisors for a finding and an order that the county improvement district be converted into a domestic water improvement district or a domestic wastewater improvement district, and after consideration of the petition the board, by resolution, shall order that conversion.
In a nutshell the public were supposed to participate in such a conversion and we were not given that opportunity. There is a letter from Globe that clarifies that the District was not a Domestic WID. Few years later the same lawyer who took the statement from John Nelson declared in a PSWID meeting that it had always been a Domestic WID and if you don't like it then sue him.
It is disturbing to think that the BOS own minutes and records said otherwise, that people in the know in Globe knew the facts and sat back and did nothing, thereby denying the citizens of Pine and Strawberry the right to follow the legal course outlined in the ARS for a legal decision as to whether to convert to a Domestic WID.
You are absolutely correct Tom the BOS did just recently specify ARS 48-1016
Revocation of authority of elected board of directors.
The board of supervisors of the county in which a domestic water improvement district or domestic wastewater improvement district is located may at any time revoke the authority of an elected board of directors in order to protect the residents of the district.
I note that it says "may" at any time revoke the authority ...... it does not say shall.
So I think you can maybe understand why I am concerned that history does not repeat itself and that the public are kept informed during the decision making process. I hope public meetings are held and polite public comments allowed. By hook or by crook we do own the water companies, and it is up to us the community to come together for the common good and not allow special interests or favors to again get in the way of sound decisions and fiscal responsibility.
It would be nice to just let things roll until the next election but there are some issues that need to be addressed soon, some examples are leaking water tanks, and the problematic wells we purchased from developers Mr. Pugel and Mr. Peterson. The former Pugel well known as Milk Ranch Well #1 is known to be turbid and needs proper filtration. Pumping and wasting water by flushing it down the creek during a turbid event in my opinion is not a solid solution. Neither is expecting us to accept higher turbidity levels than other water utilities provide. I did some research and high turbidity levels can really mess up your filters on dishwashers, washing machines, sprinklers (not that we have them) plumbing and even septic systems. The former Peterson Strawberry Hollow well was taken off line in December 2012 and at last meeting held in October was still not back on line. Some know that the wells are controversial, the Milk Ranch Well was purchased without an appraisal and for the Peterson well the PSWID board paid more than double the original appraisal price.
There are other issues that will need attention by a duly elected PSWID Board and CH2M Hill will need some oversight - and I stress oversight not micromanaged. As shown in the leak detection report allowing installers to cut off threads when installing meters and then having identified 38 out of 51 leaks as being brand new meter changes is of concern.
In the interim maybe Tommie Martin and the other two Supervisors could set up an Advisory Group which would include Tom Weeks, Sam Schwalm (board members that did not resign) and a few other members of the community. They could report directly to the BOS. The Supervisors could consider Advisory Group recommendations and confer with CH2M Hill if it fell within their existing contract. I don't know if legally Tommie Martin could sit in on the meetings as she is now a PSWID board of director.
The above are my personal ideas and opinions, and I feel that the citizens deserve a May 2014 election. I would respectfully suggest that the community does have its act together and now wants to be allowed to move forward in a careful, measured manner. They expect transparency, fiscal responsibility and a duly elected board that will truly represent the community as a whole ..........I don't think that is too much to ask.
Good points, Pam, and as always well said.
Tom, I have expressed my concerns to the BOS in writing. I know others have, too. I hope everyone will.
The last time the BOS took over management of PSWID, BOS did not listen to the concerns of the Pine/Strawberry residents. I hope they will this time. Different people on BOS hopefully good outcome for Pine/Strawberry residents. :=)
What company tests the wells and the water coming out of the tanks? And is it tested every month? Each well should be tested separately to begin with, not after it is all mixed together in the tanks and chlorine or whatever they use to purify it is added.
I know I went overboard before we bought the Punkin Center bar but because we were going to be serving the public and the well on the property was contaminated. I spent over $700.00 to have the well tested that we were going to use water from. Didn't want anyone to get sick.
That well serves 7 properties and is tested every month. State Law. Not the $700.00 test.
If any thing is found wrong all users have to be notified immediately.
"What company tests the wells and the water coming out of the tanks? And is it tested every month?"
I haven't got a clue. Perhaps someone else can tell you.
If you have time, it would help a lot if we had some clarification of the last CBOS takeover. Please understand that I am by no means being picky or negative in asking these questions. They are asked to clarify things I just flat-out have no knowledge of.
I am confused because when you mentioned CBOS "taking over," you used the term "district." That implies that CBOS took over PSWID, which I'm sure you didn't mean, but since it sounds that way it would be helpful if we knew exactly what CBOS took over. Since the ACC was involved it sounds like CBOS took over the operation of Pine Water (and Strawberry too?). Did CBOS take over from Brooke? If so, what prompted that step? What year was it? What happened to end the take-over? How long was this before the purchase of the water company by PSWID? And finally, did CBOS take over on its own authority or was it done in conjunction with some action by the ACC? Oh, and how long did CBOS actually run things?
I'm sorry to ask so many dumb questions, but I have no recollection of the events, find myself completely in the dark about them, and suspect that many others may be in the same boat. Again, I apologize for asking you to do so much work, but I find no way to comment on something I know nothing about.
Some years back, prior the water company purchase, BOS took over running PSWID because members of the PSWID Board, much like the just past PSWID Board, resigned. Pam was that about 10 years ago?
The ACC has never had anything to do with PSWID. ACC has jurisdiction over corporations doing business in Arizona. Therefore, Brooke Utilities was under ACC jurisdiction. PSWID was not and is not and under current law will never be under ACC jurisdiction.
No more ACC to turn to. You're right. We bought it, we own it, and it is up to us to make sure it gets operated in a manner that we are happy with. That of course means getting people elected to the board who's purpose is to serve their friends and neighbors, honestly and openly. Time will tell if the communities are up to staying on top of all the problems that come with "owning" a water supply system. If everyone is simply content as long as water is coming out of their taps, things will bite us on the backside very quickly. Would be nice to simply pay our monthly water bills and let others concern themselves with the nagging issues that crop up. Can't be that complacent, as each and every person who gets service from the system is an "owner" of that system and all have equal responsibility to actively participate in it's management and operation. Not directly on every matter of course, that's the purpose of the board, but they need to be forever vigilant as to what's being done on their behalf. Trust is very fragile and once lost, almost impossible to regain, as previous boards have learned. Hope the next one is able to earn and hold the trust of all they serve.
Tom, not for one moment do I think you are being picky and I absolutely will post more information to clarify and back up some of my statements. Because of Christmas it is probably going to take me a few days to pull my documents and be specific. So I will get back on the blog then.
(In the meantime I plan on having some hot Ribena and I wonder if Lolly introduced you to that? Blackcurrent cordial that you dilute with hot water and it is a comforting winter drink full of vitamin C)
Ron, I agree with your comments and I believe that in life you cannot demand trust and respect you have to earn it.
And of course you drink it only because it is a good source of Vitamin C. :-)
Happy Holidays to all of you and a great 2014.
Ah! I think I hear some happy thoughts creeping into all this. If only all men applied the lessons that this season teaches none of this conflict would occur.
Thanks, Pam. Enjoy your Christmas. I am no rush for any information. And there's no need for any "back up." I take what you say as gospel truth. I just don't remember when all that happened, or why, and so am curious.
And no, Lolly never introduced me to Ribena, though I'm sure it's great stuff. Nor did she ever worry much about vitamin C; vitamin L is her strong point.
Life with her has been proof of Corinthians: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
God bless you all and bring joy to your Christmas!
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