Jim Patton with Award for Service to WIWSA

“Folks — Randi — escorted by Sam — safely delivered my award for WIWSA service and I will treasure it …….. THANK YOU!  Just not sure whether I will have to rotate it on the shelf with my award from the State DOH — or build another shelf!

I look forward to attending future quarterly WIWSA meetings as a representative of my WBRA water system as you guide all “the troops” to clean drinking water.

Warmest regards and Happy New Year, Jim”

Calling Group B Water Systems

Whidbey Island Water Systems Association has a vacancy for a board member

Audio version of this announcement

After years of great service to the association, past president Jim Patton is stepping down from the board to focus on running his own water system. This leaves us with a vacancy on the board, and we are looking for volunteers or nominations. We’d like to fill the position at the December 2020 member meeting.

You do not have to be an expert, just energetic with the willingness to learn and assist with board duties including attendance at monthly board meetings and the quarterly member meetings and at other events where the association is present, such as training sessions and Sound Waters.

Board meetings are currently held on the first Thursday of the month at 8:00 am. Quarterly meetings are usually held the 3rd Thursday of March, June, September, and December, between 5:00 and 7:00 pm. All meetings are currently held via Zoom.

The current vacancy is for an at large position, but board members should be prepared to serve as an officer – treasurer, secretary, vice-president, or president. Board members must be full voting members of the association. This means that they must be representing a Group A or Group B water system. Associate members – contract operators, engineers and so on – and private well owners are not eligible for board membership.

In the past month, board members have been engaged in correspondence with three individuals concerning service from Group B water systems. This has led us to realize that Group B systems are underrepresented in the association, and especially on the board, where all of us are currently representing Group A systems. While we will gratefully entertain any volunteer or nomination, we are particularly interested in hearing from a representative of a group B water system.

If you’re interested in filling this position, or if you have someone you’d like to nominate, please send me an email mail(at)whidbeywatersystems(dot)org.

Best regards,

John Lovie,
President, Whidbey Island Water Systems Association


Picture by John Lovie

Welcome to Whidbey Island Water Systems Association, a resource for all who drink water on Whidbey Island!

Our members are Municipal, Group A, and Group B water systems, private well owners, and the operators, engineers, and others who serve those water systems. 

Our quarterly member meeting are currently held via Zoom. The meeting invitation will be sent via our email list only. You must be a subscriber to the email list to receive the invitation email. Click here to subscribe!

Note from Jim Patton

Jim Patton has stepped down as President of WIWSA. He has sent us this note to share with the membership:

Although I have retired as President of WIWSA and it looks like I will miss at least a few quarterly meetings this year, I would like our members to know that I will be following the important work of our association and will always be available by telephone and email. We have all benefited from the knowledge and experience of our Board’s leadership team. Working closely with the water systems regulators at Island County and the State Office of Drinking Water, the team will continue to be our best guide to safe drinking water on Whidbey Island.
Warm regards, Jim Patton

The board thanks Jim for his years of service to WIWSA where he has built on the organization started by Joe Waldrup and turned it into a powerhouse for safe drinking water on Whidbey Island. On his watch we have increased our membership, built a relationship with AWWA, strengthened our relationships with our state and county regulators, started a scholarship program and addressed the PFAS issue. Jim will be a hard act to follow!

Following Jim’s retirement, the board elected John Lovie as President and Joe Grogan as Vice-President. Randi Perry and Bethel Hart remain as secretary and treasurer respectively.


At the beginning of this year, our WIWSA Board of Directors decided to do more than encourage our members to complete their Small Water Systems Management Programs (SWSMPs). We dedicated our June and September Quarterly Members’ Meetings to focus on the first two of the three components of the SWSMP: Chapter One, Managerial Capacity, and Chapter Two, Technical Capacity and we provided copies of the 82-page Guide for completing a SWSMP (DOH Document #331-134), along with suitable loose-leaf binders. The enthusiastic response from our members showed that we were on the right track.

Now, we are dedicating our December Quarterly Members’ Meeting (5:00 to 7:00 pm on December 12th at the Sno-Isle Library in Coupeville) to explaining the third component of the SWSMP, Chapter Three, Financial Capacity. Fortunately, we will enjoy the benefit of a presentation by a skilled practitioner in the business of financial services, Ms. Katy Isaksen. Katy Isaksen & Associates has been operating in the financial services sector in Seattle for 24 years and she has agreed to speak on the topics of asset replacement, budgets and rate setting as they are called out in Chapter Three and as they apply to the ownership and management of small water systems.

Also, if time permits, I will briefly discuss the State Law, RCW 64.38.065, as it applies to the Reserve Study and Account required by WAC 246-290-105 and described in the SWSMP Chapter 3.1 and 3.2.

We know that some of our members do not yet have copies of the Guide (or the binders) so we will have more to distribute at this meeting. We look forward to seeing you then!

Warm regards, Jim Patton, President WIWSA


Perhaps the most “onerous” task for the board of any Group A community water system is the preparation of the Small Water Systems Management Program that is required by the Washington Administrative Code (WAC 246-290-105).  In fact, there is nothing really complicated about putting together a SWSMP …. but it covers so many aspects of operating and maintaining a water system that board members feel swamped …… and that leads to putting off the task until the Office of Drinking Water conducts a Sanitary Survey and discovers that the required document isn’t complete or doesn’t exist at all.

At the beginning of this year, our WIWSA Board of Directors decided to do more than encourage our members to complete their SWSMPs. We are using our quarterly members’ meetings to concentrate on each of the three components of the SWSMP: Chapter One, Managerial Capacity, Chapter Two, Technical Capacity, and Chapter Three, Financial Capacity.  We dedicated our June meeting to explaining each element in Chapter One and we provided copies of the 82-page Guide for completing a SWSMP (DOH Document #331-134), along with suitable loose-leaf binders.  The enthusiastic response from our members showed that we are on the right track.

We are dedicating our next quarterly members’ meeting on September 19th (5:00 – 7:00 pm at the Sno-Isle Library in Coupeville) to explaining each element in Chapter Two, Technical Capacity.  Our board members will be joined by local technical experts in making presentations on: Source Water Adequacy, Water System Operations and Infrastructure Adequacy and we will provide a panel to answer questions.  We know that some of our members do not yet have copies of the Guide (or the binders) so we have ordered more to distribute at this meeting.

Our meeting in June on Managerial Capacity lived up to expectations and we feel confident that this meeting on September 19th will be just as helpful and informative.

Warm regards, Jim Patton, President WIWSA


Every year, we receive many questions from our members about the Small Water Systems Management Program (SWSMP) that the State requires (Washington Administrative Code 246-290-105) of all Group A systems. Indeed, when you pull up the official Guide for preparing the SWSMP on your computer it does seem overwhelming (82 pages !!!! for Heaven’s sake) and that induces the urge to put off working on it for another day.

Meanwhile, water keeps flowing out to our neighbors and problems of ownership and operations keep coming up – and even the most dedicated and competent water boards struggle to understand and meet their responsibilities. Well, the number ONE responsibility of the Whidbey Island Water Systems Association is to be the focal point for information on water system operations and maintenance … and the number TWO responsibility is to inform our members about government laws and rules. So, our Board of Directors decided to use the rest of the meeting time that we will have with our members this year (3 quarterly meetings) to help them to draft their SWSMP’s.

The State’s Guide (DOH Document #331-134) divides the SWSMP into three chapters: Managerial, Technical and Financial. We will use the time available at our next three quarterly members’ meetings to concentrate on each of these chapters in turn – beginning with presentations on every element of the Managerial Chapter at our meeting at the Coupeville Library, 5:00 to 7:00 pm on June 13th. By the end of this year, we hope that the loose-leaf binders that we will provide, filled with the detailed information that we will help you to develop, will satisfy the State’s requirements. How about that for a sensible goal?
By the way, you have often heard me say that the safest thing for a Group B system to do is “to act like a Group A system.” These meetings on the SWSMP will provide everything that is important to know to run a Group B system in the most responsible way!

Warm regards, Jim Patton

WIWSA President’s Message March 2019

Those of us who were born before the so-called “Digital Revolution” still expect to find important data and information about nearly everything printed on paper. Wellllll, that revolution really happened and now we are all working hard to become “computer literate.”

When we needed information or data about our water systems, for example, it once required an actual “voyage of discovery” down to Island County Administration, a “get acquainted” chat over the desk, and the patience to delve through records in every stage of decay. Not so anymore! We are indeed fortunate to have access to digital “Navigators” who can guide us to the data and information that we need without us even leaving our kitchen tables. Two of those intrepid Navigators, John Lovie and Doug Kelly, will spread out the pertinent digital maps for us at our next Quarterly Members Meeting, 5:00 to 7:00 pm, Thursday, March 14th at the Coupeville Library. Please attend and bring your trickiest questions about digital access “courses and speeds.”

As a bonus, we will also host the recently appointed Deputy Director of the Washington State Department of Health, Office of Drinking Water. Derek Pell served the public as the Deputy Director of the NW Region of the ODW for years and is no stranger to Whidbey Island and our association. We want to hear about his first impressions of “Life at the Top” at the seat of our State Government – so bring even trickier questions for his challenge!

Warm regards, Jim Patton

P. S. As a matter of interest, please see the record below of the themes that we have explored at all of our Quarterly Members’ Meetings over the last five years – and don’t hesitate to let us know if you think that some are important enough to revisit.

  • 2014
    • Q1 Insurance for Small Water Systems
    • Q2 What’s New at Island County Health and ODW
    • Q3 Recruiting and Training Certified Water System Operators
    • Q4 Consolidating Small Water Systems into Districts
  • 2015
    • Q1 Potential for Disruption of Water Supplies
    • Q2 Plans for Response to Acts of Nature
    • Q3 Funding sources for Improvements and Repairs
    • Q4 World Café – Concerns and Suggestions
  • 2016
    • Q1 Responsibilities of Water Boards
    • Q2 Who Owns Our Drinking Water?
    • Q3 Water Treatment
    • Q4 How to Develop your SWSMP
  • 2017
    • Q1 Detection and Treatment of PFAS
    • Q2 Purpose of and Preparation for Sanitary Surveys
    • Q3 Preparations for Natural Disasters
    • Q4 Responsibilities of Water Purveyors
  • 2018
    • Q1 Responsibilities and Liabilities of SMAs
    • Q2 Introduction to AWWA and WARN
    • Q3 Setting Water Rates
    • Q4 CERT Training and Emergency Preparedness


I would be surprised if any of our members missed the news about the earthquake near Anchorage …. and even more surprised if any of our members failed to “make the connection” to our geologically precarious situation here on Whidbey Island.  The experts have warned us about our proximity to the Cascadia Fault nearby under the Pacific Ocean …… not to mention the Juan De Fuca Fault which is right under us!  This week’s Anchorage quake would be a “slap on the wrist” compared to the magnitude of the shaker that we might experience at any time.

Over the last four years we have regularly focused one of our quarterly meetings every year on the risk of an earthquake and encouraged our members to take at least the basic precautions. We are fortunate that in 1993 the Federal Emergency Management Agency created a Community Emergency Response Team Program (CERT) to educate volunteers about disaster preparedness and we are doubly fortunate that we can access that program right here on Whidbey Island.  Our local expert on CERT is Fire Chief “Rusty” Palmer of the South Whidbey Fire / EMS and he has agreed to speak to us at our last Quarterly Members’ Meeting this year – 5:00 to 7:00 pm on Wednesday, December 19th at the Coupeville Library.  If Anchorage proves to be just a “wake up call” for us on Whidbey we would be foolish not to be ready when our time comes!

Warm regards, Jim Patton