Group B Meetup — RECAP

Thank you to all who attended the WIWSA Group B Meetup last week (March 14, 2024). We had about 24 attendees (from 17 water systems) with a great discussion on the common issues that we are experiencing with our Group B water systems. A special thanks to John Lovie, Aneta Hupfauer and Chris Kelley who joined us and provided great feedback and information to the questions and issues raised. 

This post is a recap of the meeting which had been sent out to the attendees by email to share with those who were unable to make it and the rest of the community.

The meeting started with three polls. We had a list of the water systems in attendance and a breakdown of attendees roles in their water system which showed that the majority were board members or residents of their water system. That was followed by a question on why people were attending the meeting which 60% answered that they were looking for information on WIWSA and water systems in Island County. The rest were roughly equal between issues with their system, PFA or other concerns.

Two presentations were given by Mitch Allen on WIWSA and Aneta Hupfauer on Group B Roles and Responsibilities are uploaded to website and can be found by clicking on the links.

During Aneta’s presentation there were some discussions that raised a few points that we should keep in mind:

  • Keep your own records. The county doesn’t keep track of water use or quality data
  • Some Group B systems lack proper well covenants which are essential to protecting the source well from encroachment on the sanitary buffer as well as legal easements.
  • The USDA is a potential source of loans for Group B systems. Michael Quintas mentioned on chat that he has input on the USDA loan process if anyone is interested in that.
  • You can take your own Static Water Level reading by borrowing the measurement tool from the county
  • Short term rental occupancy often isn’t factored into population counts but probably should be included as transient residents based on average occupancy
  • Department of Ecology allows up to 14 connections without a water right as long as total residential consumption is less than 5000 gallons per day with under ½ acre of irrigation 

The rest of the meeting was a discussion where people asked questions and raised issues that they were having. Here is a recap of the topics and responses:

  • Jerry Lloyd: Storage tank cleaning: how often and how to clean
  • John Porter mentioned that they just cleaned their 10k gallon tank after eight years (through King Water, cost was $782), what’s the recommended time between cleanings?
    • Time between cleaning varies based on water quality; more manganese and iron might require more frequent cleaning; 2 to 5 years is a reasonable range.
    • Aneta will provide a document as guidelines for tank cleaning which will be posted on WIWSA website
    • Jerry and John Porter to investigate; eventually WIWSA will add guidance to the website
  • Theron Volkman: trouble arranging service from electrician and pump repair
    • Getting contractor service can be very difficult, just got to keep trying seems to be the only answer; WIWSA will add electricians and plumbers to service page on website to help.
  • Casey McIntyre: rate increase to 250% of previous years from NW Natural/King Water or option to an on-call status but still a 50% increase.
    • NW Natural will be at Member Meeting on 3/21 to talk about service issues and price changes
  • Jackie Lasater: water system has not had water quality test for 14 years in 2010, the last WFI was filed in 2009. Isn’t some notification to residents required when there is no testing for so many years?
    • Notifications used to be issued but stopped a long time ago. Loss of database meant loss of capability to generate notifications; residents should ask for the data to make sure it is being done.
    • George Petrich mentioned on chat that Shelly Ess does their water testing
  • John Porter asked for a show of hands of people creating a reserve plan
    • About ½ the audience raised their hand.
  • Krista Jackson: took water samples for PFAS test, $500 for an accredited test plus $50 shipping because the Navy refused to test their system at first. Another option is to use Cyclopure test which is not accredited but only costs $80. If you get a positive test then it would be best to do an accredited test to file with the state and county.
    • Link to Cyclopure test
    • Used ALS laboratory for the accredited test; be careful of clothing and shoes because material may have PFAS and affect your sample.
  • Mark Bunje mentioned that their water system in the East Henni & Jones Road (Oak Harbor) was tested for PFAS with negative results.
  • Aneta pointed out the Alternative Drinking Water program in the DOH/Office of Drinking water which could provide some funding for PFAS testing or remediation for Group B systems. Water systems cannot apply for this funding directly, the county or another local health expert must apply. Funds are limited. Link to application is here. Contact Aneta if you have an interest in this funding
  • Jerry asked if PFAS is just a Navy issue or is it also an issue from fire stations. Both it seems but hard to say at this point.
  • Shelly Ackerman suggests that there is an opportunity to promote the service opportunities here and that even with higher prices it’s good to have service providers who are supporting us.

Final poll was captured on what might be the most useful Group B projects for WIWSA to focus on. The results were: 

It was generally agreed that this meeting was helpful and something we want to do again. I will check in with the group that registered for this meeting in about 3 months to see if that’s a good time to get together again. In addition invitations for future meetings will be sent out to all newsletter subscribers who are on a Group B water system.