First, I want to thank those of you who shifted their sprinkler system start time away from 4:00 am. We made it through the summer pumping season without any crisis days.
Water System Upgrades
We have started the project to increase the output of our Well No. 2 for next year’s irrigation season which will increase our pumping capacity by 3,000 gallons per minute. This should let us have some cushion in operating the water system again.
Over the next decade we will be addressing this issue with many possible permanent solutions, including: (1) a new well, (2) a new reservoir, (3) improvements throughout the distribution system, (4) conservation measures, and (5) sprinkler system education.
The actual long-term solutions will probably be a combination of all these measures and some we have not even thought of yet.
Winter Storms and Outages
As I was writing this, other area utilities were responding to large power outages as a result of the winter’s first storm. We got lucky. The storm generally passed us to the south, and we did not have any storm-related outages, this time. We know that this can change, and next time we might be right in line with the worst of the storm. Be prepared for outages and know what to do when one hits. There is a lot of great information on this topic on our website, but most of all, don’t assume we know that you have a problem. Make sure you let us know you have trouble with your service and leave us your phone number so we can call you back. Sometimes you can be right next to an outage yet have a different problem than your neighbor. In that case, we might fix one thing and assume everyone is back on unless we have the call back number to double-check.
Spokane Valley Growth
Right now, we are experiencing one of the biggest construction booms in our service area in the last 25 years. Between this year’s new service connections and the new lots that are being readied for next year, we could experience a 5 percent jump in the number of customers we serve in a short period. Our crews are pushing hard to get things wrapped up while the weather permits. When you see them on the job this time of year be aware of their work zone safety. It can be a lot harder to stop or slow down with water and snow on the road. I know how much they appreciate your caution in their work areas!
A couple of weeks ago, I had the unenviable task of writing to you about our most recent rate adjustment. While it is never fun to be the bearer of bad news, this time the increase was the result of somewhat unique reasons that were very technical and hard to explain in a one page letter. My subsequent discussions with those of you seeking further background data have convinced me that we need to change our procedure to make it easier to find the full detailed technical arguments, should you desire to look completely under the hood. We are in the process of beta testing our new website now, and when it is ready for roll-out, we will include an area for technical papers and other rate case background data.
Thank you again for the opportunity to provide your water and power service. We believe that this neighborhood-owned company reflects the historical values that have made consumer-owned utilities such a great value over the last century.