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The Woodlands Reservoir.
Rhody water lands $650,000 loan posted on 12/01/2017

Construction is underway on a Capital Improvement program featuring three major projects in Rhododendron.

The Rhododendron Water Association (RWA) was awarded a $650,000 low interest loan – a rate of 1.72 percent over 30 years – due to the pursuit by the RWA board of directors of sustainable infrastructure programs and the desire to reliably deliver water to its customers, according to Steve Graeper, president of RWA.

The project funding was secured through the State Drinking Water Program revolving loan fund managed by Oregon Business Development Department and the Federal Infrastructure Finance Authority.

“Our contractors are staying in local lodging, patronizing local eateries, shopping at local stores,” Graeper said through a press release. “We are using local rock products and haulers for more than 100 yards of rock and material. We are using local material suppliers and local labor and paying prevailing wage, which is more than the standard wage.”

Also, RWA has been granted a 30 percent principal forgiveness rate as a result of meeting certain qualifications for household income and demographics.

“That debt forgiveness is effectively reducing the debt owed to just under $455,000,” Graeper said.

Also, the infrastructure improvements will not add a substantial rate increase for customers beyond the normal 1.5 percent annual rate increase that is imposed on rate payers every other year, Graeper added.

The projects include:

Installing a new $175,000 “Slow Sand” filtration system at the RWA Headworks, which will substantially lower overhead costs by reducing the need to routinely replace the very costly ($18,000/year) cartridge filters currently used to filter out Giardia and Cryptosporidia.  Slow Sand filtration is a tested and proven method of water filtration and is currently used by many municipalities throughout the world and in Oregon including the Cities of Corbett and Salem.

Installing a second and 30 percent larger water storage reservoir to help supply water to our 361+ RWA water connections. RWA currently only has a 100,000-gallon Redwood water storage tank at the headworks. That Redwood reservoir is nearing the end of its useful life and does not have the capacity to supply water to the system for any longer than 24 hours in cases where the filtration plant goes off line due to power failure or other unforeseen circumstances. The new concrete 130,000-gallon water storage reservoir, at a cost of nearly $400,000, will be located in the Woodlands area and will have the capability of supplying water to the entire RWA system should a catastrophic failure occur at the treatment plant, like what happened in 2009 when a tree fall completely destroyed the treatment plant. In addition, the new reservoir will be equipped with a hydro-turbine electric generator that will generate enough power to make the pumps at the new reservoir “Carbon Neutral.” In other words, the hydro-turbine will produce electric energy, which will be sold back to PGE at a rate equal to the power consumed by the pumps, to pump enough water uphill to supply all RWA customers.

The third project is a $75,000 project to complete the metering of all customers served by RWA. One requirement for loan qualification by the DWP is that the system needs to be 100 percent metered. RWA has been in a 10-year program to meter all users to help pinpoint leaks throughout the system. With some service lines being over 75 years old, staying on top of leaks is of paramount concern. By monitoring water consumption via meters since 2009, RWA has effectively reduced its finished water loss from over 85 GPM (gallons per minute) to under 30GPM. By installing the last 40+ meters on the system, RWA hopes to get the leak rate to below 10GPM.

By Larry Berteau/MT

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