Category Archives: Newsletter

Newsletter – May 2021

May 27, 2021

Update and developments in your water association …

Your CBWA Board has two director positions open for election in July 2021.  Any interested persons are encouraged to contact CBWA Manager Mandi Hall (clarksbranchwater@gmail.com) to be placed on the ballot.

Elections will be held via return mail or by e-mail to the above e-mail address.  Ballots should be submitted on or before the annual meeting held at the water plant on July 15, 2021, 7:30 pm.  Ballots will be mailed with the June billing.  Members are most welcome at the annual meeting.

The board is currently using funds generated from the $120 per member assessment recently implemented to install upgrades to the plant electronic control panel, including eliminating a phone line automating the river intake pumps in place since 1976 and shifting to a radio telemetry system.   The phone line-controlled system had grown increasingly unreliable and troublesome over the past several years, and Ziply Fiber’s repair response time during the last outage was six days—totally unacceptable.  The radio telemetry system is said to be much more dependable and will pay for itself in about six years.

The board recently secured a $27,330 grant from the Oregon Health Authority/Oregon Business Development to improve security at the Dole Road river intake/pump house and incoming raw water analysis electronic equipment inside the plant building.  These improvements are being made currently and should make your water system more secure and able to produce quality water.

Further, the board is attempting to secure a 50% grant/50% low-interest loan for approximately $350,000 from Oregon Health Authority/Oregon Business Development to replace two aging 15,000 gallon storage tanks with one large tank of over 100,000 gallons.  The larger storage capacity would allow the plant to shut down for extended repairs which are direly needed, and to similarly shut down for emergencies.  The larger capacity would provide more cushion for any number of circumstances.

This large storage tank project would be paid with half the money granted to CBWA from the state, and the other half paid back to the state with a 1% loan.  The half CBWA members need to pay back would come from a future assessment of each member of an estimated $7 per month for the life of the loan (nominally thirty years, although CBWA could pay down the loan more quickly).  At a 1% borrowing rate, the approximate $175,000 loan money comes quite inexpensively—but it must be paid back.  Asking members for a long-term assessment commitment is not a pleasant request, but CBWA could not begin to afford the new tank project on its own.

The CBWA Board is trying to save as much reserve funds currently held to pay for repairing the modular water plant itself.  The unit is almost fifty years old and is showing its age.  Many of the chambers have significant corrosion and have been repaired extensively over the years.  But the time to do a total overhaul is almost upon us.  The cost to shut the plant down for several days and have a professional contractor totally reline the mixing chambers could easily exhaust all the surplus revenues held by the association.

The board recently did a rather thorough study of revenues and expenses.  Certainly, expenses are up significantly with Optimum Environmental Corporation operating the plant.  And many expensive repair and improvement projects have been undertaken over the past year in order to best serve the members.  Revenues must meet expenses when all is said and done in order to keep a nearly fifty- year- old system functional.  The recent revenue/expense review found large water consumers (those using 15,000, 20,000, and 30,000+ gallons a month) are generally not paying their fair share of expenses.  As a specific example, the ten largest water association water consumers used over 27% of the water distributed in 2020.  These same ten consumers paid less than 18% of the revenues received from water sold.

Since the board has implemented a rate increase for all members to the current $70/mo., the focus is now on those who use large quantities of water.  The rates for excess water use of over 5000 gallons per month were not raised in the recent three year phased-in rate increase plan.  The board feels these rates for excess water use are not enough to meet costs and must therefore increase in order for the association to remain financially sound.

Reluctantly, the board must increase excess water use fees as follows beginning with the July 2021 billing:

  • 5001 gallons to 10,000 gallons = $8 per 1,000 gallons (a $2 increase from current rate)
  • 10,001 gallons to 15,000 gallons = $10 per 1,000 gallons (a $2 increase from current rate)
  • 15,001 gallons to 20,000 gallons = $12 per 1,000 gallons (a $2 increase from current rate)
  • 20,001 gallons and over = $14 per 1,000 gallons (a $2 increase from current rate)

The board doesn’t relish increasing water fees, but finds revenues must meet expenses, especially when the plant is facing so many repairs to remain viable.  After nearly fifty years of operation, this is simply the reality of the situation.  Please attend the July 15, 2021 annual meeting at the plant (7:30 pm, 741 Wagontire Drive) should you have concerns and questions for the board.  The board is made up of member volunteers working to ensure the plant will be functional for the next fifty years.

Newsletter – April 2020

Optimum Environmental Corporation has taken over the day-to-day operation and water testing compliance for the Clarks Branch Water Association water plant and distribution system as of April 6th, 2020. The CBWA Board unanimously approved a three-year contract with OEC. OEC is a local water treatment company with approximately fourteen plants as part of their responsibilities. It is a very capable company which came highly recommended.

The CBWA Board had to act quickly to find a viable, long-term solution for operating our system. The current Coronavirus pandemic was not the only contributing factor, but it certainly is the most pressing factor casting influence over almost every other consideration. The Board felt it had no other comfortable option amid some very difficult circumstances.

CBWA will face significantly higher monthly operating costs with OEC. The association has a surplus of funds currently which was being considered for other projects, such as expansion of its water storage capabilities. But having quality and consistent day-to-day water now takes precedence. If in the future a less expensive means to run our system is found, it certainly will be investigated. The CBWA will monitor costs, but there are presently no plans for an increase in monthly basic rates except for the already approved increase to $70/mo. in November, 2020.

The CBWA Board would like to humbly thank Lou Dykstra for seven years of exceptional service in operating the water plant, making great water, and engineering several improvement projects within the system. Lou’s yeoman service saved the association thousands and thousands of dollars as work was done internally rather than by expensive engineers and contractors. Lou cannot be thanked enough! Similar accolades go out to Brian Kelly who was the association direct regulatory contact (DRC). Brian provided his license to keep CBWA in line with the myriad of Oregon State water testing regulations, and also helped in many emergency instances.

The board also realizes some members may be adversely affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout. Please contact Executive Manager Mandi Hall in writing (clarksbranchwater@gmail.com) or at the postal address on this mailing if you wish the CBWA Board to consider your particular circumstance. It will be reviewed on an individual basis by the board. Please bear in mind the board cannot forgive charges accrued, but it may be able to extend due dates or work out payment plans until the account can be brought current when the economy returns toward normalcy. Please stay safe!