A: This BOD will not pursue mandatory meters without taking the matter before the full membership for vote.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions were submitted by members to the board of directors. This page will be updated as additional questions are asked and answered. Please see the project-related Q&A page for additional questions and answers pertaining to the system upgrade project.
If you would like to ask a question that is not listed here, please use the Contact form.
Q: The BOD has the authority to install a meter on a dwelling if the need arise. Does the BOD feel that they have the authority to pass a resolution to install meters on all of Comore Loma without going back to the members?
Q: How would they be paid for if so?
A: Most likely, the aggregate cost would be such that the only practical way to fund mandatory meters would be to borrow the money and amortize the costs to the individual homeowners over time.
Q: Can we have another vote for meters? The great info provided on the CLWC forum has changed my opinion and I bet others might also wish to change their vote.
A: Members have the right to petition the Board for items they would like to see be brought before the membership at the Annual Meeting. There appears to be more support for meters recently, both within and outside of the Board.
Q: If we get meters, how will rates be determined?
A: We would model every other metered community: there would be a base rate for a base amount of water used, with a per gallon surcharge on the amount of water used over that base amount.
Q: Would watering restrictions stay in place with meters?
A: That would depend upon whether meters had the effect of reducing overall demand due to excess cost of water.
Q: Are we able to read our own meter for managing purpose?
A: Would depend upon the type of meter installed.
Q: Does the board know the true cost of meters (installation and maintenance/reading)?
A: No, we do not yet know the full cost that meters would entail.
Q: How do our water rights tie into our system capacity?
A: Our water rights give us an amount of water we can legally extract from our wells and a maximum “diversion rate” at which we can pull it out. We can add capacity (wells, pumps) to our system, but we cannot exceed our allocation or diversion rate when utilizing that capacity.
Q: Were the water rights transferred to CLWC from the Developer in a legally binding manner?
A: Yes. CLWC has legal ownership of sufficient water right to cover every lot (developed or undeveloped) served by the CLWC Water System.
Q: What is the meaning of "1⁄2 acre limit"? Is it for the environmental concern?
A: It is based in water law and not environmental concern. All of CLWC’s water rights must be exercised as domestic rights (vs agricultural). By law, a domestic water right entitles the owner/exerciser to essentially unlimited culinary water but only enough additional water to “irrigate 1⁄2 acre” – or a combined total not to exceed 13,000 gallons of water per day per home.
Q: If there are only enough water rights for 1⁄2 acre per lot, how can the CLWC sell something they don't own? Once all of the Divisions are built out with houses, how will this inequity be resolved?
A: Even though some lots are irrigating less and some more than the 1⁄2 acre domestic right limit, the aggregate combined demand is still within the overall water rights CLWC owns. By charging a higher rate to those who irrigate more than the base 1⁄2 acre, the over-users bear a higher proportion of the cost of system operation and maintenance. The 1⁄2 acre of irrigated landscape restriction will be more strictly enforced going forward (beginning with the new Division 25), but the Corporation has no recourse for those lots that, in the past, landscaped larger areas and are, technically, “grandfathered”. In those cases, it is really up to the lot owners as to how much they are willing to pay for the water and additional infrastructure necessary to irrigate those larger areas. The additional storage capacity being provided with the new improvement project will help to equalize ability to meet demand, but will not totally resolve the problem. In large measure, we will have to rely on voluntary reductions.
Q: Does each lot owner have an individual water right?
A: Each lot has a water right assigned to it, but the ownership is retained by CLWC.
Q: How can we, as a community, better encourage and emphasize water conservation as an essential component of our water consumption? (Finding ways to reduce water usage, and especially wastage, will also reduce power costs).
A: Sharing ideas and information learned from experts in the field with your neighbors is a great way to start. We do need to realize that we live in a high altitude, windy desert environment that is further complicated by hilly terrain. All of those things increase the demand for water while at the same time decrease the efficiency/effectiveness of watering systems. We highly encourage conservation in all forms.
Q: Have we looked at solar energy to help contain the cost of running the CLWC System? If not, why?
A: Yes. One of our more generous members (who has asked to remain anonymous) actually self-funded an initial feasibility review for installing solar this past Spring. The review was a very high level one and was purely conceptual in nature. It did not include any budgetary information. What we learned is that we do have enough solar days to make a solar array technically feasible. The downside it that it would require approximately 2850 solar panels of 250W capacity. Besides requiring several acres of land area, it would also be a sizeable up front capital investment. Part of the challenge is “right-sizing” such a project. Our greatest demand is during the summer months by far – but to size an array to meet summer demand, means we would have a vastly oversized system for the other 8 months of the year. While public electrical utilities are required by law (through the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act or “PURPA”) to enter into purchase contracts with entities producing excess renewable energy, they are not required to make it easy, cheap or necessarily profitable to the selling entity. We elected to put further review on hold for the time being, but if anyone would like to do some further research (particularly on funding avenues), we would be very open to the help.
Q: When the CLWC issues a "do not water" and make me miss my watering day, no consideration is given for me to water the next day and as such my yard goes a whole week between watering. Is the BOD going to have some consideration in the future?
A: The BOD would like nothing more than to be able to do away with restrictions altogether, but so long as we continue to overtax our system, we have little choice other than to continue in some form or another. All the same, we are continuing to look at ways to make it more palatable and equitable within the constraints we are given.
Q: Our previous owner has over 1 acre of lawn, should we return it to field? What other options do we have? May we have a greenhouse?
A: There are financial incentives in the water rate structure for smaller lawns. Some individuals are looking at modifying their landscaping to include less water-intensive options like "hardscape", natural grasses, drip systems, etc. Greenhouses are a smart use of both land and water given that they have less evaporative losses and typically employ drip irrigation methods, but must be approved by the architectural control board. In addition to these voluntary efforts, Divisions 24 & 25 also have covenants that mandate a maximum of 1⁄2 acre of lawn.
Q: Using last two summers as a baseline, and using June, July, and August, how much of the electric bill goes with each of the booster stations and each of the wells (i.e. how much does it cost to run each individual station and well)?
A: Our power bill runs close to $150,000 per year, with some $120,000 of that being for the 5 summer months.
MESSAGES AND NOTICES
Q: Do you send out message by zones or everyone gets the same message? When pressure in tank 2 is low and boil alert sent out, is it only for zone 2 and zone 3 or for everyone including zone 1?
A: The same notice is sent to everyone. If the notice only applies to certain zones, the notice will state which zones are affected.
EQUITY IN ACCESS TO WATER
Q: We know in Zone 1, many have 2" or 1.5" pipes. I have also heard that some owners have tapped into the main line multiple times which means double or triple of flow rate. Is it fair to equally distribute the whole cost to the homeowners, regardless about the lawn size and flow rate?
A: Actually, all the street valves provided throughout Comore Loma are 2” valves, with the exception of the newest Division (25) where the valves are 1 1⁄2”. It is possible that individual homebuilders may have elected to continue their connection from the street valve to the home/yard with a smaller diameter pipe, but that is not something the Water Corporation has visibility of or control over. Regarding extra taps into the mainline, there may be a small number in the older part of the subdivision that have a tap for the house and a tap for the irrigation, but we are only aware of one such case. Either way, the culinary use is so insignificant compared to irrigation, the second tap for the house would have little impact on the total usage. The current system of water use and billing does have practical limitations in how equitable it can be. Without a way to directly measure actual usage of water, our only option is to assess homeowners based on acreage irrigated.
Q: We all like watering 3 days a week, but I worry if everyone waters at the same time, with 50% more households, our system can't handle it. If something happens, how do we arrange differently so we can get compensate the lost hours without being labeled "over watering”?
A: You have identified the key problem – given our climate and conditions (heat, wind), the most effective time to water is night and early morning. That is why when folks run out of water it is almost always early morning when irrigation is at its peak. The board is looking hard at the watering restriction issue as a whole with the hope that our bypass system that lets water to be pumped directly from Well 5 to Tank 2 and the permanent upgrades being provided by the improvement project upgrade may provide a little more flexibility in the future.
Q: When will we be informed of new water rates?
A: We are working on a 2015 budget and our goal is to have the 2015 budget and rates determined and announced by mid-
Q: If still using acreage, according to the suggestion from the Engineering report, are you going to increase the rate for higher acreage and lower the rate for lower acreage, even below 0.5 acre?
A: We are evaluating rates based on a minimum base operating cost to which we will add a usage/demand factor that is tied to irrigated acreage.
Q: Who is exempt from directly paying for water, and why?
A: No one is exempt – everyone who is legally connected to the system is being billed. However, Randy Skidmore also receives a cancelling credit to his account for his services as Backup Water Operator.
Q: What is being done to modify the original Water Development Agreement between the CLWC and the developer? Currently, the agreement is very one sided and forces all of us stakeholders to continue to accept expansions of the system. There should be an option for the board to vote to halt all future demand to the water system based on continued development as a means to stop the bleeding and mitigate even more added headaches/costs we all take on based on the developer continuing to increase demand.
A: The original development agreement is not being worked on at this time. While the recently negotiated Amendment does apply only to Division 25, it does address some of the concerns relative to controlling build-out and landscaping acreages within that Division.
Q: Why is the developer a member of the Board rather than an Advisor, when there is such an appearance of Conflict of Interest?
A: The developer was duly elected to the Board by the membership several years ago. He currently serves as one of the 3 members of the “Senior Class” and as such, his position will be up for vote in the upcoming April 2015 Annual Meeting. The membership will have the opportunity at that time to determine if he should continue to serve. The Board strives to ensure that members with a potential conflict of interest are recused from discussions and votes in such situations.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Q: Why are Directors and Officers of the CLWC not voted on by the owners of the CLWC, as is the case in most member owned corporations?
A: The short answer is that Directors are voted on by the membership. The Amendment to the bylaws approved in our April 2014 Annual Membership meeting increased the maximum number of board members from 7 to 9 and further divided those 9 into 3 “classes” of 3 each. A board member is now elected for a 3-year term and at each Annual meeting, the 3-most senior positions are refilled by vote of the membership. Where the confusion may lie is that the bylaws do allow the sitting board to fill interim vacancies as they may occur. Since the April elections, the board has lost 3 board members for various reasons. Given the workload the board is currently carrying, we chose to fill those interim vacancies.
Q: If I pay the advertised rate for water, and don't exceed my allocated amount of water, what gives the Board the right to limit when and where I use my water right?
A: CLWC owns the water rights (rights are subsequently allocated to each lot, but ownership is retained by the Corporation). CLWC’s first obligation is culinary water. After culinary water is satisfied then irrigation can be allowed. If the use is overtaxing the system then restrictive measures must be used.
Q: How much the water cop costs CLWC this summer compared to the fine collected?
A: $8587 paid the water cop. $600 for 3 fines billed. $200 for one fine collected. However, the effectiveness of the water cop cannot be measured solely by the fines. It is the purpose of the program to achieve compliance, not to collect fines.
Q: How will violators be dealt with next season? There was much debate on the forum about this but was it resolved? Some people were still irrigating yesterday (29 Oct) and no, these are not new lawns, they do this twice a week. One suggestion would be to include the irrigation rules as a reminder on each water bill so no one can claim to have missed the email (or not have access to the internet).
A: The need to have to enforce good citizenship in our community is neither desirable nor pleasant. It is something we wish we could do away with all together. Your suggestion is a good one and we will most certainly factor that into our deliberations on how we handle things next watering season.