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June 20, 2008 

Water Quality Questions

Some terms defined:

I. President’s Corner

Water Meters: Many of you came to the National Night Out at the LBCA building last summer, and know that we have been working on the possibility of adding water meters to our system.  It seems fair to charge each member a base fee which would cover the basic financial needs of the company, and allow those who choose to use more water to pay for that privilege through a scale based on metered usage.  The additional funds would offset our costs and fund improvements.  Meters would also include backflow prevention to help protect our water supply, and electronic transmitters which would allow automated reading. When a similar but larger system installed meters, their overall usage fell dramatically because members were able to identify leaks and excess usage in their homes, saving everyone money. Our current system does not encourage water economy, though many of you take conservation seriously. We need to do more.

Water Authority: Our first investigations into meter installation have been difficult. We are installing some of the housings for the meters as we install the remaining cutoffs in our system, to get a feel for our ability to do the installations in house.  The increase in water bills per household to cover meter installation would be prohibitive, even working with USDA on a long term government loan. A preliminary study would cost $20,000 in engineering fees alone, with estimated costs ranging between $800,000 to $1,000,000, or more, for the whole job. One option is to pursue becoming a Water Authority through a bill which has been proposed in the state legislature.  As a Water Authority or Sanitary District, we would be eligible for grants which would allow us to complete the work. We would require approval of the membership to proceed with a vote to change the cooperative.  BWC would be operated and governed exactly as we are now, but we would have the same authority as a municipal water system.  If this bill is passed and becomes law, we would have one year to schedule a meeting with the membership asking for a change in the by-laws to allow us to proceed.

Water Allocation: Maryland Dept. of the Environment issues permits to certain entities to “appropriate and use” water.  These permits limit the amount of water an entity may draw from public sources, such as aquifers.  Due to an administrative error in processing the original application for our permit when the Cooperative was first incorporated, our permitted allocation was insufficient to accommodate the growth of our community.  As a result, we are exceeding our Water Appropriation, and this issue will be addressed soon by the Maryland Department of the Environment.  We are working very hard to apply for an increase in allocation, and hope to complete that work quickly enough that we will not be fined for excess usage. The top proposed fine is $25,000, and that money would be better spent invested in improving our system.

Water Restrictions: All of us by now know that clean water availability is a hot topic here in Maryland, in our country, and throughout the world. The drought last summer forced many localities to institute a water usage moratorium and they may have to do so again. Our policy of curtailing usage extends to watering with sprinklers or irrigation systems of any kind, and means that you may only use water outside your home to water plants or grass with a hand-held hose.  No other outside use would be permitted.  While this seems harsh, the alternatives are far worse, as we may see in the future.

Rate Increase: The repair of aging infrastructure, improvements and additions to our water system virtually guarantees that we will continue to have to increase our rates periodically to keep up with costs, about every other year.  Although we have made every effort to control costs, we need to implement a $5 per quarter increase this year, effective July 1.

House Valves: We have had emergency calls to cut water off at the main tap because the homeowner did not have a cutoff in the home or did not know where it was.  Please locate your main water cutoff in your home, and if you do not have one, have one installed.  Only BWC representatives are legally allowed to access our valves.  If you call our office at 410-586-8710, we can shut off the water for the installation of a house valve. This type of cutoff is a basic requirement, and exists in most homes, though some older homes may not be so equipped.  If you develop a leak in your home’s piping, such as a burst hot water heater or other major leak, an interior cutoff could save you thousands in repairs.

Please call us if you have questions or comments. Every member has equal ownership in the cooperative, and we value your opinion.


Gary Clarke, President

Announcing the Beaches Water Cooperative's Annual Meeting
Date: September 14, 2008       Time: 3:00 pm
Location: Long Beach Civic Center on Calvert Blvd

II. Water System Improvements

We have had a busy year in both maintaining and improving the water system.  Besides having the seasonal system leaks to repair, this year we have had to replace two well pumps, a booster pump, and gas chlorination controls. As many of you know the predecessor of the Beaches Water System started with the subdivision of Long Beach and Calvert beach in the early 1930s.  The system has continually evolved to this present form of having eight wells, five pumping stations, a 6 inch main loop supplier, and gas chlorination. The system has high reliability due to its redundancy and interconnection. The one well pump that failed and was replaced was in-service for over 25 years that we know of without any maintenance or repair.  This exceeds the 15 years that normally can be expected of a well pump.  The other well pump may have operated for close to 20 years.  We can expect more major infrastructure replacement in the coming years.  As a community owned not-for-profit water system we do not retain earnings as in a for profit company.  We operate within our budgetary means each year.  We are, however, required to maintain a reserve fund for failures of pumps and wells so we are prepared financially to handle these issues.   We will be looking in the near future at well maintenance, rehabilitation, which is recommended but has never been performed on our system.  The benefits are maintenance of well capacity and increase life of the well.

One of our past improvements paid dividends again with our recent series of storms.  Power was lost in the community for most homes between 2-6 hours during the storms.  Our emergency generator automatically started when power was lost and ran for 2 hours keeping our main pumping station in operation so no one lost water service during the storm.

III. Water Conservation

Tips for Conserving Water:

  •        Turn off water while brushing your teething or shaving
  •        Keep your shower to five minutes or less
  •        Only use dishwasher or washing machine with a full load
  •        Repair leaky faucets, toilets, or pipes
  •        Use water efficient faucet aerators/showerheads
  •        Mulch your flower & vegetable beds to reduce evaporation
  •        Water your garden in the morning when evaporation is less
  •        Landscape using drought tolerant plants

To aid in water conservation for our community, BWC is offering, at wholesale cost, water saving shower heads and faucet aerators.  These water saving devices use 1/2 to 1/4 less water than the regular devices and produce similar water pressures.  They are reported to provide the same enjoyment as their high flow counter parts.  If enough members participate in this conservation effort we could save millions of gallons of water a year.  These water saving devices can be purchased, by our members only, at the BWC office for the following prices:

Device Wholesale (your price) Retail List Price
Shower Head $4.95 $18.95
Shower Wand $6.95 $30.99
Faucet aerator $0.50 $1.50
Toilet Tank Dams $1.99 $6.99

IV. Right of Ways

From time to time it is necessary to repair, replace, or install new distribution piping in the right-of-ways.  More of this will be happening with the installation of water meter pits.  When this happens, you may notice digging along side the road in the right-of-ways.  These road right-of-ways exist past the paved portion of the road and are usually 40 or 50 feet wide where as the road may only be 25 foot wide.  Many community members maintain these right-of-ways areas as part of their yards.  When it is necessary to dig in these areas we will always return theses areas to the same or better condition that they were in prior to the work.  Remember we are a member owned organization and those BWC guys out there working are looking out for the best interests of the community.

V. National Night Out

Come and join us for the 25th Annual National Night Out on Tuesday, August 5, 2008.  National Night Out is a unique crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch.  Beaches Water Co-op is proud to participate in this important campaign to strengthen neighborhood spirit and heighten crime and drug prevention awareness.  Last year our board members were available to answer questions regarding the installation of water meters, water restrictions and other questions members had.  We distributed information about water conservation and had a drawing to win a water conservation kit with showerhead, aerators and tank dam.  Come out and meet your board members.

VI. Annual Water Quality & Consumer Confidence Report

Our drinking water is safe and meets all federal and state requirements for community drinking water.  In 2007, there were no water quality violations.  Our water quality results are based on the monitoring cycle for the contaminant up to December 31st, 2007.  Terminology used in this report is what is generally accepted as a means of measurement of the degree of contaminants in the water.  Contaminants include naturally occurring items in the water such as minerals and foreign matter that may or may not be acceptable based on the level detected.  The amount of contaminants in our drinking water is well below levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency in all categories.  We routinely monitor for contaminants in your drinking water according to Federal and State laws.  All drinking water, including bottled drinking water, may be reasonably expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants.  It's important to remember that the presence of these contaminants does not necessarily pose a health risk.  If you have any questions about the Annual Water Quality Report please contact us at 410-586-8710.

Microbial Results MCLG MCL Level Detected Violation Likely Source of Contamination
Total Coliform Bacteria 0 > 5% samples 0 NO Naturally present in the environment
Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (ppb) 0 6.0 1.1 NO Discharge from rubber and chemical factories
Arsenic (ppb) 1.0 10 6.6 NO Natural deposits
Copper (mg/L) 1.3   0.24 NO Natural deposits; corrosion of household piping
Iron - (mg/L) -- -- 0.14 NO Natural deposits
Fluoride - (mg/L) 4.0 4.0 0.31 NO Erosion of natural deposits; Leaching
Sodium - (mg/L) -- -- 16.6 NO Erosion of natural deposits; Leaching
Total Trihalomethanes (mg/L) n/a 0.80 0.002 NO By-product of drinking water disinfection
Gross Alpha (pCi/L) 0 15 1.0 NO Erosion of natural deposits
Gross Beta (pCi/L) 0 50 17 NO Erosion of natural deposits

Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has completed a Source Water Assessment of the Beaches Water Co-operative wells in the Nanjamoy and Aquia aquifers. This report is available in the office for public review.

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Water Drinking Hotline (800-426-4791).

VII. Financial

The following chart is a breakdown of the budget for the fiscal year 7/1/08 - 6/30/09.

Water service 287,640
Pool water service 4,500
Space Rental 1,200
Advertising-Quarterly 2,400
Application & Transfer Fees 1,920
Hook ups 6,000
Total Income $303,660
Auditing 6,000
Bad Debt 105
Bank Service Charges 244
Contributions 105
Depreciation Expense 51,837
Professional Memberships 486
Engineering 579
Insurance 11,576
Loan Interest 200
Mortgage Pay Down 3,900
Mortgage Interest - MDE 1,678
Legal 405
Licenses and Permits 232
Office - Other 5,272
Operating Supplies 14,000
Repairs & Maintenance 22,000
Repairs & Maintenance-Contract 750
Routine Service 142,049
Solid Waste Fee & BRF 189
Utilities 32,414
Water Testing 3,850
New Water Allocation Expense 5,789
Total Expense $303,660
  VISA and Mastercard:
We are now accepting VISA and Mastercard payments.  You may come by
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