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How Does Drought Affect My Water?

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Drought

Anyone familiar with the climate of Nevada is no stranger to drought. This year, Nevada is already experiencing some of the highest levels of drought in the past 20 years. During this challenging time, our commitment to deliver safe, reliable water and wastewater services remains our top priority.  

The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) lists the different types of drought as meteorological drought, hydrological drought, agricultural drought, socioeconomic drought, and ecological drought.  

According to the University of Nevada, Reno https://livingwithdrought.com, “Drought is influenced by several factors, including below-normal snow or rainfall, geography, temperature, soil moisture, water demand, and water management. As a result, drought can impact our communities and our environment in wide-ranging ways.”  

The Nevada Division of Water Resources (NDWR) is currently anticipating the seasons snowpack to be significantly lower than normal. “But we still have March which, cross your fingers gives us 2-3 more storms like we have had earlier in the season,” said Bunny Bishop, the Chief of Water Planning and Drought Resiliency at the NDWR. 

“The best thing that a homeowner can do is really pay attention to the conservation efforts they can implement at home. Being aware of their water usage is the absolute best thing,” said Bishop. “Planning ahead by checking your system to make sure there are no leaks and utilize drought tolerant plants and zero-scaping is also important for homeowners to do.” 

Homeowners can assist in the management of the available water by taking advantage of GBWC’s conservation rebates. Join us in the effort to preserve and protect this precious resource. We are working to improve our water conservation program, and we welcome views and recommendations from interested customers.

Customers can view the GBWC conservation plan at https://www.myutility.us/greatbasinwaterco/education/water-conservation. Please reach out to BeWaterSmart@greatbasinwaterco.com with your feedback.  

GBWC’s water supplies are solely based on groundwater withdrawals. Unlike surface water, the groundwater supply is much more drought resistant than surface water. GBWC has no recorded reduction in the availability of groundwater in any of the GBWC Division’s wells during the three years period of drought. As such, no additional modeling or analyses were performed to specifically evaluate this condition outside of the restrictions described in the Water Conservation Plan. 

The primary goal of water conservation is to ensure that there is always sufficient water for essential public health and safety needs. The climate in Nevada is arid and subject to periodic droughts that can vary in duration. GBWC relies completely upon ground water (as opposed to surface water) to provide safe reliable drinking water to its customers. The impact of droughts can be particularly difficult to measure in the immediate. In fact, it can take several years or even thousands of years to realize the impact of a severe drought. Nonetheless, it is wise for us today to protect water resources for generations to come.  

 


Water Rights: What They Mean to Customers

Did you know that Nevada is the driest states in the nation, with an average of only 9 inches of precipitation a year? This makes water a very valuable resource to all of us who live in Nevada! Did you know that the water utilized in the Spring Creek area is part of the Humboldt River Basin system? Great Basin Water Co. holds water rights and permits which are part of the Humboldt River Basin that supplies the water allocations to our Spring Creek customers. The Nevada Division of Water Resources (NDWR) is statutorily responsible for the management of water in Nevada.

Water Rights are best described as the entitlement or acquisition to use water for a beneficial use. Any use of water in the state of Nevada must have a water right permit. With the permit you are designated an appropriated amount of water.

Nevada has had water statutes since 1866 although they have changed and adapted over time. According to NDWR’s website, “Today, the law serves the people of Nevada by managing the state's valuable water resources in a fair and equitable manner. Nevada water law has the flexibility to accommodate new and growing uses of water in Nevada while protecting those who have used the water in the past.”

Water rights that are considered pre statutory are the oldest of water rights. For percolating ground water, it would be any time before 1939, for artesian water it is any time before 1905, and for ground water wells it is any time before 1913. After those dates people who want a permit to an allocation of water has to go through the state engineers’ offices to determine if the water is available and the proposed amount is sustainable in the future. The permit allows the use of water, but you don’t own it.

“Before statutes it was a free for all, first come first serve. They created their own entitlement to the water. After the statutory it has to go through an approval/permit process to be able to use the water,” said Micheline Fairbank, Deputy Administrator with the DNWR

According to NDWR’s website, “Nevada water law is based on two fundamental concepts: prior appropriation and beneficial use. Prior appropriation (also known as "first in time, first in right") allows for the orderly use of the state's water resources by granting priority to senior water rights. This concept ensures the senior uses are protected, even as new uses for water are allocated.”

Every water right has a priority date, when purchasing a water right permit you are not only buying the entitlement to use the water, but you are also purchasing the priority date. The buying and selling of water rights is done on an open market, and prices are agreed upon usually with the help of lawyers, consultants, and real estate professionals.

“When buying the permit, the legal definition is that usufructuary you are buying the entitlement to the use of that water. A water right permit has an amount tied to it for example 300-acre feet and you are also purchasing the priority date. That can make them more valuable than say more junior rights,” said Fairbank.  

When a new development is in its earliest stages, they are required to gain permits from the state engineers office, who will determine if the water rights they would like approval to use can sustain a new community and how many lots it can accommodate now and in the future.

“In Nevada it has been determined that an average allotment for a parcel is 1.12-acre feet of water. This amount should be sufficient to serve the property for regular municipal use. Most parcels don’t actually use that much water, allowing for there to be enough water to support the development now and into the future,” Fairbanks said.

Developments that have their water managed by a utility must go through the NDWR in order to determine how many lots it can accommodate. “The reality is that water rights are given and managed to sustain a community over time, by both the state and utility. Making conservation and stretching the use of that water a good management practice,” said Fairbanks.

She added, “Small steps today are an investment into the future.”


Update on the Spring Creek Rate Case

In June of 2020, Great Basin Water Co. (GBWC) filed a rate case for our Spring Creek Division. To determine if rates are reasonable and just, GBWC is required by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) to present a rate case every three years.

The Application has gone through the due process of the commission and GBWC is awaiting the final order. GBWC’s recent proposal requests an average increase of 6.85% for residential water service and approximately a 6.3% increase for residential sewer service. At the conclusion of our last rate case, three years ago, the average rates for residential water service decreased 8.31%. As a public utility, GBWC has an obligation to continue to deliver safe and reliable water and wastewater services at the lowest reasonable cost. The PUCN is charged with determining if the utility has acted to balance between these goals.

While we understand there is never a good time to increase rates, these rates are based on the actual and complete costs of providing safe and reliable water and wastewater services and will be thoroughly examined by the PUCN and its staff (as well as the Bureau of Consumer Protection) prior to impacting you.


Behind on Your Bills? Sign Up for a Payment Arrangement

It is quick and easy to sign up for a payment plan or deferred payment arrangement that meets your needs. We encourage all customers with a past-due balance to reach out for assistance - even if you cannot pay anything right now.

Sign up is simple: visit connect.myutility.us or open the MyUtilityConnect app to get started. Once you’ve logged in, open Billing and click on the Payment Arrangements tab. Follow the prompts to confirm your eligibility and enroll your account.

You can find more information about the payment arrangements that are available to customers on our website. Please click here for information about all available payment options.

We understand these are difficult times and want to make sure our customers are aware of all available assistance. We’re here to support the communities we serve and keep the water flowing!


Great Basin Water Co.’s Continued Efforts During COVID-19

It may be hard to believe we are nearing one year since our community began to face the challenges and disruptions of normal activities stemming from COVID-19. Over the past year, Great Basin Water Co. (GBWC), has been closely following local, state, and federal guidelines to be at the forefront of providing safe and reliable water and wastewater services for the health and safety of our community.

At the beginning of the pandemic, GBWC was one of the first utility companies to suspend the shutoff of customer’s services due to inability to pay. Our efforts to aid customers also included turning back on services to customers who had been shutoff previously. GBWC also made changes to the payment arrangement options we offer. In preparation for an expected increase in customers whose current situation may warrant alternative payment options, GBWC has prioritized the implementation of payment arrangements in accordance with applicable regulatory orders and directives.

Customer Experience Representatives have received additional training to ensure they are prepared to help customers facing challenges paying their bills.  To set up a flexible payment arrangement, please contact us at 844-694-4404 to speak to a representative, or click here to open MyUtilityConnect and sign up for a Payment Arrangement through the portal. Next, sign into your account and open Billing. Click to navigate to the Payment Arrangement Section and then follow the prompts to check your eligibility and enroll.

GBWC’s office support staff began working remotely in March of 2020. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise and the pandemic persists, we are continuing with our remote working policies and our existing Physical Distancing Schedules for operations staff who are required to work in the field. We continue to reinforce the importance of strict adherence to all COVID-19 policies instituted by local, state, and federal guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our employees and communities.

As the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines continues, GBWC’s leadership has established a subcommittee to focus on the development of a COVID-19 vaccination strategy. The subcommittee consists of Operations, Human Resources, Health and Safety, and Legal resources to ensure all areas of the business are considered as we develop our plan. The subcommittee is reviewing where essential utility workers will fall in the vaccination priority list, Company position on policy and guidance for receiving the vaccine and associated operational planning requirements.

GBWC recognizes COVID-19 has brought many changes and challenges to our customers and communities. As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, GBWC will continue to be flexible and adapt our operations to ensure we continue to provide safe and reliable service to customers, while keeping our employees safe.


Investing in Water Infrastructure: It Makes Sense (and Cents, Too!)

Our water systems are an integral part of everyday life. A simple act like washing the dishes or pouring a glass of water depends upon an intricate system of underground pipes we rarely get to see. Like other things hidden from view, our water pipes are often “out of sight, out of mind.”

There are approximately 800,000 miles of wastewater pipes in the U.S., many of which were built soon after WWII and have exceeded their 50-year design life. The time is now to fund the local and national water infrastructure which is so critical to our daily lives. There are numerous benefits associated with doing so - and many risks if we choose not to.

Nationally, our clean water infrastructure has received a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 infrastructure report card, and the U.S. EPA calculates national investment needs just to fully comply with the Clean Water Act under current conditions at approximately $271 billion over the next 20 years. While federal contributions to transportation infrastructure have stayed constant at approximately half of total transportation capital spending, federal investment in water infrastructure has declined from 63% to 9% of total capital spending since 1977. Today, more than 90% of all investments in water and wastewater in our country come from ratepayers.

Investing in water infrastructure allows communities to plan ahead for changing environmental conditions and maintain a high quality of life for residents. The modernization of wastewater infrastructure could reveal numerous innovative and sustainable approaches to water recovery, including opportunities to produce energy from methane gas.

In addition to supporting public health and safety, investments in water infrastructure are also supportive of the growing “water workforce.” The Brookings Institution report, Renewing the Water Workforce, estimates the entire water sector employs 1.7 million people. This accounts for utility staff, consultants, manufacturing and other jobs directly associated with the water sector. By increasing opportunities for water professionals, we can increase the number of "green" careers in our local communities.

The federal government can be an important partner in keeping clean water flowing for years to come. We should not have to risk falling behind on the progress that was made several decades ago under the Clean Water Act due to a lack of federal investment. And as we face continuing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of good public health becomes even more apparent.

It has been over 50 years since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972. As a nation, we continue to benefit from this Act which made the protection of our waters a priority. We are fortunate to have the drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems that currently serve us. Without them, we would not have the economic and public health benefits we currently enjoy.

Funding the repair and maintenance of these systems and supporting a strong, modern water infrastructure network for future generations is a widely-held position by many Americans. In a recent poll by the Value of Water Campaign, 78% of respondents said it’s “extremely or very important” that the President and Congress develop a plan to rebuild America’s water infrastructure. 

The role that our water infrastructure systems play in maintaining public health, hygiene and safety has never been more apparent. To meet the challenges of years to come, federal leaders must commit to the value of water and support a diverse array of sustainable water solutions. 


Who Monitors Your Water Quality?

When you turn on your tap or water faucet to fill up a glass, do you stop to think about what's in your water?

You are not alone! Great Basin Water Co. (GBWC), the State of Nevada and United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) are not only interested but very invested in your water’s safety. GBWC believes that clean drinking water is vital to public health and your wellbeing. Providing safe, reliable water services is a part of our ongoing commitment to you and your family.

The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed by Congress in 1974 and provides the guidelines which all water providers are required to follow. The SDWA authorizes the US EPA to create standards and procedures to protect against both naturally occurring and man-made contaminants which may be found in drinking water. In the beginning, the SDWA focused on treatment as a means of providing safe water and in 1996 it was amended to include protecting the water source, training operators, providing the public with information, and guidelines for system improvements as a means of ensuring the safety of drinking water.

The SDWA standards and guidelines are for every water system that services over 15 households for more than six months out of the year, these standards are based on rigorous scientific testing to provide safe drinking water. The National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWR) set enforceable maximum contaminant levels for contaminants in drinking water and the requirements to treat water for the removal of contaminants. Along with setting the maximum contaminant levels, the US EPA also sets the testing requirements, and operator training requirements.

On the state level, GBWC’s water quality is closely monitored by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP). On a routine basis, GBWC takes water samples from various locations throughout the water system to test for contaminant levels. The sample locations and sample times are approved by NDEP. The samples taken by GBWC are tested by an independent third-party lab, results are reported to NDEP for review by GBWC and the lab.

According to the NDEP website, “Interest in drinking water system compliance is high. The Bureau of Safe Drinking Water reviews compliance data from about 600 public water systems based on State and Federal regulations. If a water system’s data exceeds a maximum contaminant level or an action level, we refer to that system as being non-compliant. Nevada currently has 17 systems that are non-compliant with health-based primary drinking water standards and 12 additional systems that are non-compliant with other secondary drinking water standards.”

Today, GBWC is not on the non-compliant list of NDEP. Historically, GBWC was on the non-compliant list prior to the treatment of Arsenic in the 200 Tract area. GBWC constructed an Arsenic treatment plant approved by NDEP to mitigate the naturally occurring Arsenic in the ground water. GBWC continues to test the water on a quarterly basis as approved by NDEP. Every year in compliance with providing the public information requirement of the SDWA, GBWC provides a water quality report to customers. This report can be found on our website at https://www.myutility.us/greatbasinwaterco/water-quality-reports/2019.

GBWC operations employees must study, pass tests, and attend continuing education units (CEUs) to hold certifications recognized by the NDEP and US EPA. The certification program requirements are governed by Nevada Administrative Code and are updated regularly with the latest update occurring in 2018. Our operators maintain their certifications or increase their certifications, with annual CEUs, years of experience and regular testing for higher certifications.

So, the next time you go to turn on your tap or faucet to fill up a glass of water, remember that your water quality is closely monitored by GBWC and at the state and the federal level. We are proud to follow all regulations and requirements and provide water services you can rely on.


How Does the Public Utilities Commission Regulate Your Water?

Have you ever wondered how Great Basin Water Co. (GBWC) is regulated? Who tells us what is allowed, and what is not?

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) is a regulatory agency that ensures investor owned utilities like GBWC comply with laws enacted by the Nevada Legislature. When you think of your water rates and how they are determined, a major aspect of the rate you pay is determined by the PUCN’s regulation of Nevada utilities.

“The PUCN utility regulation process for investor-owned utilities in Nevada follows statutory guidelines. The basic purpose of utility rate regulation is to balance the needs of the consumers and the utility, including regulation of rates and service quality,” said PUCN Communications Director Peter Kostes.

Approximately 400 investor owned utilities that includes, water/wastewater, electric, natural gas, telecommunications, and some railroad companies are presided over by the PUCN. It consists of two distinct groups, one side is the decision makers, who function similar to a court. The other side is the regulatory operations staff, who participate in the proceedings by gathering information and providing their input before the decision-making side takes action. Finally, there are three commissioners who are appointed by the Governor and are part of the final decision-makers.

 “An important part of the regulatory process is the general rate case application, or GRC, that is required of investor-owned electric and certain water or wastewater utilities every three years. A utility must seek approval from the PUCN through a GRC application to change rates charged to customers for services. The utility cannot change rates until the PUCN completes a formal evidentiary process of investigating the GRC application and issuing an order authorizing changes in rates,” added Kostes.

Kostes explains how GBWC customers can participate in a GRC. “Consumers can follow the progress of rate cases by reviewing filings made in a GRC application on the PUCN website. Additionally, consumers can provide input about PUCN proceedings through written comments or public comment at consumer session forums and at regular commission agenda meetings. Live links to most PUCN proceedings are also available on the PUCN website and consumers can sign up for service lists to receive information about open proceedings,” Kostes said.  “The PUCN website – www.puc.nv.gov – is a great resource for consumers and others interested in PUCN information.”

Regarding public comment opportunities, Kostes noted the PUCN recently conducted a consumer session on Oct. 27 for the current Great Basin Water Co. Spring Creek division general rate application. The annual Elko County general consumer session was Oct. 26.

“Normally, the consumer sessions would have been conducted locally. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and in compliance with an emergency directive from the Governor, the PUCN sought public comment via telephone conference and is accepting written comments,” Kostes said.  

Although an annual Elko County general consumer session is not statutorily required, Kostes said the PUCN supports the idea of fostering greater input from Elko County residents and has scheduled annual meetings in Elko County since 2017. General consumer sessions allow the public to provide input about any topic concerning utilities regulated by the PUCN, including GBWC, NV Energy, Southwest Gas, and some telecommunication and railroad companies.

Another agency that participates in the PUCN decision making process is the Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP). Under the direction of the Attorney General, the BCP represents the general public’s interest before the PUCN, federal utility regulatory agencies, courts and all other forums with jurisdiction over Nevada public utilities. The role before these bodies is to advocate for reliable utility service at the lowest reasonable cost-particularly for residential and small business customers of public utilities.

As you can see, there is a lot that goes into regulating a utility company. Receiving customer feedback is one of the most important parts of the regulatory process.

We appreciate the opportunity to hear from our customers. You can reach us through our Customer Contact Center at 844-694-4404, or on the web at https://www.myutility.us/greatbasinwaterco.

 


Rebates Offered by Great Basin Water Co.

Great Basin Water Co. is dedicated to promoting water conservation through public outreach, customer education and responsible stewardship. Our state's desert climate, growing population, and ongoing drought conditions make water efficiency critical.

When you change out older non-efficient faucets, toilets and water appliances for new water conscious ones, GBWC will credit your bill.

Customers who install new WaterSense labeled high efficiency 1.28 gallons per flush (GPF) toilets (limit 2) can qualify for a credit of $50 each (limit $100).

Additionally, switching to a WaterSense bathroom faucet can earn up to $50 credit for 2 faucets, while 2 shower heads can earn $15 each. Finally, buying a new Energy Star washing machine can earn customers a onetime credit of $75.

There are also bill credits available to changes made to outdoor water use. Installation of a WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation control is worth a $75 credit. Additionally, one of the largest bill credits offered is for the removal of Tamarisk (Salt Cedar) trees. Salt cedars are very drought-tolerant plants that send long deep roots (30 feet is not unusual) to exploit groundwater deposits.

Not only are they depleting the groundwater supplies, they release salt crystals that poison the soil disrupting the growth of other foliage. You can receive a credit for removal of these trees from your property ranging from $75 a piece up to $300.

Please visit the GBWC website at https://www.myutility.us/greatbasinwaterco/education/water-conservation for all the terms and conditions, and applications for each offer.

Or contact GBWC at BeWaterSmart@greatbasinwaterco.com for more information on water conservation and rebates available.

Great Basin Water Co. Addresses Spring Creek Pressure Fluctuations

At Great Basin Water Co. (GBWC), we pride ourselves on our commitment to our customers through reliable and safe water and wastewater services. Part of our pledge includes updating you when we have disruptions in normal service. We are aware of fluctuations of pressure that have occurred over the past several months and we would like to share with you the circumstances that led to this volatility in some neighborhoods, what GBWC has done, and continues do to maintain quality service.

Large Increase in Use During Irrigation Season, Well Disruptions Contribute to Pressure Fluctuations 2020 has been an unprecedented year in many ways, including in some of the water use in Great Basin’s Spring Creek system. In fact, use in Spring Creek from March to August 2020 has increased 31% since the same time period in 2019.

Well #5 Rehabilitation and Well #7 Outage

This Spring, GBWC was in the later stages of Well #5 rehabilitation before the height of the irrigation season. During routine use in late May, Well #7 began having severe vibration issues. As a result, GBWC shut the well down and immediately contacted a vendor for repairs. After a thorough analysis of Well #7, the repair vendor determined that the pump and motor were terminally damaged and as a result the well had to be down for several weeks.

In response, GBWC took Well #5 out of rehabilitation and it was back online within a few days of #7 being taken offline. As a result, the pressure level was brought back up. In late August, Well #7 was brought back online and since that time the 300 tract area has been back to normal irrigation season operating pressures.

GBWC’s Added Response to Pressure Volatility

In late Spring, GBWC operators noticed significant increases in demand. The demand culminated with higher than average temperatures, more residents home and utilizing irrigation because of the pandemic, and substantial new users coming online.

As a result, GBWC began taking steps to offset sudden demand concerns including: 
o Bringing supplementary wells online
o Flushing mains and lines in areas where we have had pressure issues
o Installing pressure monitors
o Pursuing the installation of a pressure relief valve at Scrub Oak Drive
o Working with the Spring Creek Association on a coordinated common area watering
schedule

Moving forward

GBWC apologizes for any disruptions or inconveniences customers have felt during this irrigation season. With both of GBWC wells online and set for complete rehabilitations by next irrigation season, we believe pressures in Spring Creek should be steady and reliable. Additionally, we are planning supplementary projects to improve consistency.

What projects are next in Spring Creek? We need your input.

In upcoming months, GBWC will be putting together our Integrated Resource Plan or “IRP” in Spring Creek. The IRP outlines for the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) the projects GBWC has planned to enhance the Spring Creek system over the next few years. We invite customer input, suggestions, and concerns including on how a project can directly impact you.

You can reach out to GBWC with your suggestions for new projects by calling our customer service number at (844) 694-4404, emailing our Communications Coordinator Trina Castonguay at: inquiries@greatbasinwaterco.com, or sending a direct message to GBWC via social media on Facebook and Twitter.

Should you have any questions or concerns about this article or pressure issues at your property,
 please do not hesitate to contact us at (844) 694-4404.

Also, we encourage you to register for My Utility Connect
(GBWC’s online portal to communicate directly with customers), please visit:  
https://connect.myutility.us/connect/


10 Steps to Winterize Your Home

“Winterizing” your home is recommended to prevent damage to pipes and other components of your plumbing system. It’s also a good idea to make your place more energy-efficient before those cold winds start blowing in.  

We’ve put together a list of 10 tips to help you winterize your home and protect your investment (and your wallet) from winter’s worst damage. 

Seal your doors and windows: Drafty doors and windows let precious warm air escape from your home, making your heating system work that much harder to keep things cozy inside. Use draft guards by your doors to prevent heat loss. Seal window gaps with weatherstripping tape and consider using window insulation film. Remaining gaps in windows, doors and siding can be filled with caulk.

Replace your filters: Switch out the filters in your central air and heating system to improve their overall efficiency. A new filter can make a significant impact on the quality (and cost) of your home’s heat.

Clean gutters: Remove debris from your roof and gutters. It’s important to clear the way for water and ice ahead of winter storms. You don’t want heavy, icy build ups to unhinge your gutters from the roof! 

Water system: Winterizing your home’s water system before the temperature drops is critical to help ensure a winter season free from frozen pipes and water damage. Insulate pipes that pass through unheated areas of your home, such as the garage. Consider adding insulation in your attic, basement, and crawl spaces. Insulation helps maintain higher temperatures in these areas. If the weather is very cold, open kitchen and cabinet doors to let warm air circulate. And when things are really chilly, make sure to run water through your pipes - even a little trickle - to keep them from freezing.

Flush your water heater: Particles and sediment can collect in the bottom of your water heater, making it less efficient over time. Before cold weather sets in make sure to flush water through the drain valve to keep your heater functioning at its best.   

Heating system: If you haven’t run your furnace in 3-6 months it’s recommended to perform some yearly maintenance. The cost of hiring a professional to inspect your furnace makes sense - they can make sure it’s operating safely and efficiently, and inspect your heating ducts in the process. 

Test your detectors: Check the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change them if needed. Winter sees a rise in the number of home fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning because families are running their boilers and furnaces constantly to keep warm.

Clear out your yard: Inspect your yard and trim any branches that are located near your home and power lines. Winter’s snow and ice can weigh heavy on tree limbs, causing them to fall and damage your roof. Better to be safe than sorry in this case!

Prepare an emergency kit: Being prepared means being equipped with the proper supplies you may need in the event of a winter weather emergency. Visit Ready.gov to review items you should include in a basic disaster supply kit.  

Go green: Remember Mother Nature and think of traditional ways to keep warm - sweaters, quilted blankets and fires in the fireplace. A warm sweater can add about 4 degrees of warmth to your body. Try as best as you can to keep warm before touching that thermostat! 


GBWC Welcomes New President

Great Basin Water Co. (GBWC) is pleased to inform our customers and the Spring Creek community that Sean Twomey has been named as the company’s new President. Twomey, who began on September 1st, is a professional engineer and utility veteran who has been with The Corix Group of Companies (GBWC’s parent companies) for 12 years. He replaces longtime GBWC leader Wendy Barnett, who retired after a successful fourteen-year career with the company.

“I am honored to accept the position and look forward to immediately contributing to the focus on operational excellence and customer engagement of the Nevada team. We have great people in our company, and I am a big believer in the value of building connections both internally and with the communities we serve.” stated Twomey.

Twomey joined Corix in 2008 as a Project Engineer – Water and Wastewater Treatment and has held a variety of positions within the company culminating in his current role as Vice President – Operations, Canadian Utilities. He holds a bachelor’s degree in process and chemical engineering as well as a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Calgary, Haskayne School of Business. Twomey will be leading GBWC’s four divisions, including Spring Creek, from the company’s Reno office.

“Throughout his 12-year tenure with Corix, Sean has consistently demonstrated strong leadership, technical skills and strategic focus. He has also successfully managed his teams to achieve high levels of operational effectiveness and customer engagement,” said Catherine Heigel, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Regulated Utilities for Corix, “I know he will bring his best in serving our Nevada customers.”

Most recently, in addition to his operations role, Twomey served as both a member, and now the head, of the COVID-19 Incident Command Team which has driven the company response to the pandemic.  He will also serve as the President of Bermuda Water Company in Arizona, which serves customers in the Bullhead City, Arizona area.


How to Detect a Leak

Did you know that water leaks are the leading cause of higher than normal bills and can be very costly to fix? Are you afraid there is a leak in your water system?  Finding a leak that is not on the surface or visible is not impossible. Great Basin Water Co. wants to offer you a few tips to help find and detect a leak.  We encourage you to learn more about finding leaks by viewing our video here: https://vimeo.com/424894924

On the face of your water meter there is a flow indicator that is either a dial or a digital icon, depending on your type of meter. Some digital meters have a built-in leak detector which may be displayed in the form of a faucet icon, the flow rate, or even say the word leak. If your meter does not have a leak detector, the flow indicator can help determine if you have a leak. If no dial is spinning or the digital indicator is not running when your system is completely off, that is a strong indication that your system is leak free. However, if the dials on your meter are spinning or the digital icon moving even if there is no water being used in your system, you most likely have a leak on your property. If the flow indicator dial is spinning you may have a leak somewhere after the meter. If the numeric counter is spinning when no water is in use, you definitely have a leak.

Toilets are the most common source of leaks. If your toilet will not stop running, GBWC recommends fixing it right away. A leaky toilet can waste up to 3,000 gallons of water each day. Get started by checking your fill device inside the back of your toilet. You may also have a bad seal on the base of your toilet as a bad flapper seal can cause “phantom flushes”. To determine if your toilet is quietly leaking, put a drop of food coloring into the tank and wait 10 minutes. If the color shows up in the bowl without flushing, your flapper may need to be replaced.

Also commonplace in the bathroom, a dripping faucet or showerhead can be caused by worn washers or seals. These washers and seals can easily be replaced with parts found in common hardware stores.

The most difficult leaks to detect may be in your sprinkler or irrigation system. These can cause big water bills. GBWC suggests you walk through your yard periodically and check for service line breaks or issues with sprinkler heads. One sign of a broken line is soggy ground spots, overgrown, or extra green spots on your lawn. Additionally, drip irrigation lines may develop leaks if animals chew through them.

If you’re worried you might have a leak or you notice a sudden change in your bill, call our Customer Contact Center at 844-694-4404. They will help troubleshoot your problem and if needed send a technician to your home to investigate further.

And by the way, if you notice water on a roadway or even flowing freely from a GBWC facility, please call into our Customer Contact Center to report it, so our operations staff can quickly asses the issue and take the appropriate measures. At GBWC, our priority is to provide customers with safe and reliable water every day.

As a reminder, during this unprecedented time we are practicing social distancing as well as contactless service. We would like to make sure that you are aware of this as any operations staff you may meet will be practicing these precautions.

One more link to check out our video: https://vimeo.com/424894924

 


Water Conservation Survey: We Need Your Feedback!

Great Basin Water Co. is conducting a survey to identify and evaluate changes in water conservation perceptions, attitudes and behaviors - we will use the results to determine how we may better promote water conservation among our customers.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SKDM69V

Why is this important?

Nevada is the driest state in the United States, with an average annual precipitation rate of 9.5 inches.  As the population continues to grow, the state’s water demands are projected to increase 85 percent by 2065. Available surface and groundwater supplies are increasingly strained due to numerous factors including climate change. Water of acceptable quality is increasingly hard to find because local sources are allocated to prior uses, depleted by over-pumping, or diminished by drought stress.

Finding ways to decrease water demand and increase alternative water supplies (such as greywater, green infrastructure, and onsite water recycling) is a task that happens most effectively in the land development process, not once a building is already in place. In almost all cases, it is far more cost-effective to implement these alternative water-supply options and water conservation practices at the beginning of development as compared to retrofitting them at a later date.  

In short, Nevada’s desert climate, growing population, and ongoing drought conditions stress the state’s existing water supply, making water efficiency critical!

Please take our brief survey today and reach out to BeWaterSmart@greatbasinwaterco.com with any questions. 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SKDM69V


Upcoming GBWC Rate Case in Spring Creek

Earlier this month, Great Basin Water Co. (GBWC) filed a rate case for our Spring Creek Division. To determine if rates are reasonable and just, GBWC is required by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) to present a rate case every three years. At the conclusion of our last rate case, three years ago, the average rates for residential water service decreased 8.31%. GBWC’s recent proposal requests an average increase of 6.85% for residential water service and approximately a 6.3% increase for residential sewer service. As a public utility, GBWC has an obligation to continue to deliver safe and reliable water and wastewater services at the lowest reasonable cost. The PUCN is charged with determining if the utility has acted to balance between these goals.

While we understand there is never a good time to increase rates, these rates are based on the actual and complete costs of providing safe and reliable water and wastewater services and will be thoroughly examined by the PUCN and its staff (as well as the Bureau of Consumer Protection) prior to impacting you.

Now that the rate case has been filed, there will be an opportunity to voice your concerns as a customer. Part of the rate case process is to hold a consumer session. A rate case is very closely analyzed by the PUCN staff and the BCP, before the rate increase can go into effect. Together we share the goal of a safe, dependable supply of safe drinking water at the lowest possible price consistent with prudent business practices.

To learn more about how rates are set, read the article “How Are My Rates Set? – Part 1 of 3 of Spring Creek Water Fundamentals” further down this page.


How to Read Your Water Meter

Want to know an easy way to save water and on your bill at the same time? Reading your meter is a useful way to educate yourself on the amount of water your household uses. Making yourself familiar with your usage tendencies can not only help you lower your monthly bill but can also assist in managing your conservation efforts. For example, to know how much water you use while irrigating your landscaping, you can read your meter before you begin and when you have finished. With this knowledge you can choose the most efficient way to adjust your watering habits.

To get started reading your own meter, you will need to locate it. Typically, your meter will be found outside, near the edge of where your property meets with the road. Meters are housed in “meter pits” in the ground and can be identified by a cover that says “Water Meter” on the top.

Once you have located your meter there will be a lid that will need to be opened to take a reading. The face of your meter is referred to as the register, it will have a numeric counter as well as other hands or dials to record water usage or flow rates. Your meter may have one or more stationary zeros to the right of the numeric counter. One stationary zero means that your meter reads in 10-gallon increments. The sweep hand dial reads water usage in 1-gallon increments, while the flow indicator records in fractional increments. If your meter is digital, it will not contain dials like the ones on an analog meter. On a digital meter there will be an icon or separate indicator that measures flow rates.

Although meters vary in make and model their basic functions are the same. Great Basin Water Co. is always available to help you understand your meter and usage. If you are interested in having a GBWC technician show you where to find your meter or how to read it please contact our Customer Contact Center at (844) 694-4404, and someone can meet you at your property and safely walk you through the process.

Please note when GBWC technicians read your meter, they may be seen opening the meter pit to take a manual reading and then entering the results into a handheld meter reading unit. Otherwise, you have an Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) meter. With these meters, technicians can gather readings from a signal emitted by the meters every few seconds. This signal is picked up by the system and recorded as the technician drives by. AMR meters allow GBWC to more closely monitor usage. GBWC is in the process of changing all meters in the Spring Creek service territory to AMR meters. If you are curious if you have and AMR or an analog, please call our customer contact center and they will be able to tell you.

To learn more about reading your meter, please view the video linked here: https://vimeo.com/424897462

 


Tips for a Water-Wise Garden, Green Thumb or Not

Spring Creek gardeners are hardy folk, acclimated to working through the hot and the cold to create wonderful outdoor spaces. Persistence – and a willingness to experiment – will take you far in gardening. Green thumb or not, you can plant something beautiful and long-lasting if you aren’t afraid to try something new.

  • Plant with Natives: Your garden will glow brighter if you use plants that are native to our region or adapted to similar climate conditions. A “water-wise” Nevada garden can be as diverse as your imagination, but it’s important to choose plants that are conducive to our environment.Growing native species can help cut your use of water (and pesticides) dramatically.
  • Know Your Landscape: To see real success, you’ll want to become very familiar with the landscape of your yard. Map areas of shade, high-exposure, drainage, soil types and microclimates. Put pencil to paper and match site specifics to the cultural needs of the plants you are looking at. With time, your native garden will yield healthy, beautiful plants, as well as an increase in native birds and other pollinators, a lower water bill, and reduced use of chemicals in the environment.
  • Be Water Smart: COVID-19 has more of us spending time puttering around the house and playing in the dirt. We hope that novice and experience gardeners alike are doing what they can to conserve water. Using water responsibly outside our homes is easy to do with a little extra consideration.

     

    Tips for Water Efficiency

    • Limit lawn grass; balance shrubs and groundcover with stone pebbles or cement
    • Add a patio to the front yard for additional living space (and less lawn)
    • Shade trees keep your yard cool and give variety to the landscape
    • Reuse water that children have played with to water trees or shrubs
    • Don’t water when it’s windy (or raining)
    • Water during the cool parts of the day, never between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
    • Water near the roots of the plant. Deep, intermittent watering promotes deeper root systems that do better in hot weather.
    • “Water and Wait.” Then stop and wait for the water to soak in, about one to two hours.
    • Regularly check your irrigation system for leaks – or better yet, avoid using one altogether. Watering your garden with a hose is more efficient than even a drip irrigation system!

Please follow us @GreatBasinWaterCo on Facebook or visit our website for more ways to water wisely!


From Ground to Faucet: How Do I Get My Water? – Part 3 of 3 of Spring Creek Water Fundamentals

Have you ever thought about how your water is provided? Providing safe and reliable water to customers is a top priority for Great Basin Water Co. (GBWC). In the Spring Creek area, GBWC owns and maintains two separately permitted water systems with 12 wells and 9 storage tanks. The two systems supply over 5,050 customers and GBWC maintains and services over 122 miles of water mains and service lines.

Your water is sourced from underground wells located throughout the system and is pumped from varying depths in the basin. At each well location, GBWC applies and monitors the injection of chlorine prior to entering the distribution system. This is common practice throughout the world to protect against waterborne pathogens. The residual chlorine, or low level of chlorine that is left in the system after its initial application is closely monitored by GBWC and regulated by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP).

According to waterandheath.org, there are 4 reactions that result from the addition of chlorine to a water system.

  • The Chlorine Demand is Satisfied: Upon initial dosing, chlorine reacts with any organic matter in water. The amount of chlorine used in these reactions is known as the "chlorine demand" of the water.
  • Combined Chlorine Forms: When the chlorine demand of the water is satisfied, some portion of the remaining chlorine reacts with nitrogen in the water to form compounds known as chloramines. The chlorine that combines chemically with nitrogen and nitrogen-containing compounds is known as "combined chlorine."
  • Free Chlorine Destroys Germs: Chlorine remaining in water after the chlorine demand is satisfied and combined chlorine is formed is known as "free chlorine." This is the chlorine portion available for disinfection. Many waterborne germs are either killed or rendered incapable of reproducing, helping to prevent waterborne disease outbreaks.
  • A Chlorine Residual Remains: Following a given contact time during which chlorine destroys germs, some chlorine remains in the water. Chlorine and bromine are unique in their ability to impart this kind of protection. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all US facilities that treat water to maintain a chlorine residual of no more than 4 parts per million, whether chlorine is used as a primary disinfectant or not.

To monitor the chlorine residual, GBWC tests the distribution system on a weekly basis. There are multiple points across the system approved by NDEP for testing. These locations are throughout the different tracts located within the Spring Creek water system. The number of test points in each tract has been determined by population and follows Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) requirements.

In addition to the chlorine treatment outlined above, customers in the 200 tract receive water which has been remediated for arsenic. Although the test points and the process for arsenic filtration in the 200 tract may be slightly different than the other tracts, the water quality is the same. The arsenic filtration vessels use levels of sand and charcoal to capture and remove the bonded arsenic molecules, delivering water that meets NDEP requirements. This system is tested on a daily basis to ensure the process is functioning properly.

NDEP requires a variety of testing procedures for the Spring Creek area, and every public water system, ranging from daily testing to tests that are only required every 9 years. Additionally, GBWC provides the public with a yearly water quality report, known as a Consumer Confidence Report.  This report is sent to customers through the mail and is also available on the GBWC website.

In addition to testing, GBWC practices the process of a routine flushing of all systems. During the winter months, water doesn't flow as much as it does in the summer and routine flushing ensures water does not stagnate. Flushing improves the taste of the water and assists in maintaining the distribution system. According to waterandhealth.org, "The increased flow helps maintain the chlorine residual that protects the water as it moves to your house."

While GBWC does everything possible to provide safe and reliable water every day, we would also like to reassure you that your water is safe from viruses like COVID-19. According to the Center for Disease Control "The virus that causes COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19." Our water receives such disinfection.


COVID-19 Update

At the Corix Group of Companies, which includes Great Basin Water Company, the health and safety of our employees, customers, and communities is our top priority. This commitment guides our efforts to mitigate any public health or business impacts the COVID-19 outbreak may cause as we continue to provide safe and reliable water and wastewater services.

We are continually monitoring and following directives from primary public health authorities – the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada, and the World Health Organization (WHO) – for any new guidance on water and wastewater treatment protocols. These authorities have declared:

 •  A reliable source of clean water for drinking and personal hygiene is considered a fundamental necessity in the fight against COVID-19.
 •  According the World Health Organization(WHO) there is no evidence COVID-19 is transmitted through drinking water or sewage.
 •  Water treatment and handling protocols used in North American water and wastewater plants are highly effective against biological pathogens. 

For further information about COVID-19 and drinking water and wastewater, please refer to this statement from the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).


Don't Flush That Wipe!

Disinfectant wet wipes, paper towels and toilet paper are flying off the shelves. These products help keep us clean and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But when we remember that products like baby wipes and wet wipes are not as “flushable” as typically advertised, it’s no surprise that we’re now at a greater risk for sewer blockages in our communities.

If TP isn’t available, it’s easy to reach for an alternative – but keep in mind these wipes (and paper towels) need to stay out of our pipes, period. Keep a bin next to the toilet for disposal! Do with wet wipes what you’d do with a baby’s diaper or other hygiene products.

When “flushable” wipes enter your plumbing system, they don’t disintegrate like regular old’ toilet paper. They often hold together better than a paper towel and they require more water to travel the distance from inside your house to the buried sewer lines outside. At some point in this journey, you’re going to get a clog! If wipes survive the trip to the water treatment plant, they just clog up the pumps there, creating even bigger problems.

So now that we’re never flushing our wet wipes again, are you wondering what else doesn’t belong down the drain? Read this quick list of items we’re all guilty of tossing… Now here’s to helping our pipes stay clog-free.

  1. Q-Tips and cotton balls – They will never disintegrate like TP, so don’t flush them.
  2. Feminine hygiene products – Pads and tampons are meant to absorb liquids, not break down in them. They are never safe to flush.
  3. Dental floss – Floss might look harmless, but this stuff is tough. It can create a net when it’s swishing around in your pipes and wrap around parts of your septic system, even burning out the motor.
  4. Diapers – No no no no no! Diaper pails exist for a reason.
  5. Condoms – They’re designed to never break down in water. Put it in the trash.
  6. Medication – Toilet water doesn’t break down the prescription drugs you flush, meaning that whatever you’re taking will end up in the environment. Throw into the trash or return it to a pharmacy.
  7. Kitty Litter – Some cat litter brands advertise as being flushable, but don’t believe the hype. All it does is make water more difficult to purify on the other end.
  8. Cigarettes – Butts are full of chemicals, so don’t flush them.
  9. Hair – When flushed, hair acts like dental floss and creates a net that gets caught on everything. Plus, it never dissolves in water, no matter how long it’s there.
  10. Bleach – It’s too harsh of a chemical to use as a part of your routine cleaning, try getting toilet stains out with vinegar instead.

And of course, no fats, oils or grease, either! But more on that later.