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Are You Receiving Our Alerts?

Not long ago, customers only had one option when an outage occurred – impatiently waiting while the utility company worked to fix the situation, often confused as to when the next update would arrive. We want to take the guesswork out of it, and help our customers have a clearer picture of planned construction projects and unplanned alerts, too.

We’ve taken our communication with customers a step further.

We know you want to stay informed about any disruption of service the moment it occurs. This also includes staying informed about projects that are coming so you can properly plan. For these reasons and more, we are excited to provide alerts for all of these notifications via MyUtilityConnect.

MyUtilityConnect is our online portal and mobile application that gives customers the ability to select which alerts they want to receive, and how they want to receive them. Alert settings can be changed at any time from MyUtilityConnect. Customers can choose how many and what alerts they want to receive.

Monitoring and Reporting Outages on MyUtilityConnect

The Alerts section of MyUtilityConnect shows a comprehensive map of Spring Creek, with current and planned outages highlighted.

Specifically, customers will be able to:

  • ●View a map displaying all current and planned outages along with the impacted area, incident description, and current reported status
  • ●Receive individualized notifications for the outages that impact the customer
  • ●Report an outage from the portal or using the mobile app
  • ●Send a message to the utility customer service desk and receive responses

Start Receiving Alerts Today! Sign in and update your account preferences. 

If you haven't already, register your account with MyUtilityConnect: connect.myutility.us


Capital Improvements: What do They Mean to the Customer - Part 2 of 3 of Spring Creek Water Fundamentals

“We take a very methodical and educated approach to capital planning,” said Wendy Barnett, President of Great Basin Water Co. (GBWC) “While both customers and GBWC would like to see projects completed as soon as possible, there is a very regulated process we must undertake.”

Updating and maintaining a water and wastewater system that was mostly built in the 1970’s is an ongoing process for the GBWC team in Spring Creek. GBWC purchased the water and wastewater system in Spring Creek in December of 1996 from MCO Properties, who built it in the mid 1970’s. The Spring Creek subdivision was originally separated into four tracts 100, 200, 300, and 400. When the system was installed, it was at a substandard for today’s requirements, and from the beginning GBWC inherited pre-existing issues. GBWC has been mitigating these deficiencies since the purchase of the system.

Major capital improvements are a component of the continual process to maintain an aging system. When GBWC analyzes projects that need to be done, there is a specific process to be followed. As a regulated utility, capital improvement projects must be approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN). Part of the process to get projects approved by the PUCN is to apply for an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) every three years.

In 2004, a master plan IRP was developed that called for an investment of $200 million in maintenance and repairs over 20 years, to bring the system up to today’s standards. That master plan had to be revised to a more reasonable and attainable goal of $25,000,000 over 20-years. In the 2006 IRP, the PUCN approved $8,000,000 in projects. Projects completed from the 2006 IRP addressed issues such as insufficient fire flows in all tracts and frequent power outages resulting in water interruptions in all tracts.

Another ongoing project to help keep system interruptions to a minimum and address reliability, is continual replacement of main service lines. The large pumps that feed the system can overpower the size of the main service lines resulting in breaks. Water storage in all tracts is also an issue that is being addressed. Since the change in the EPA regulations on arsenic levels, GBWC has focused on arsenic remediation as an ongoing capital project.

“To maximize the useful lives and functionality of our assets, GBWC follows a set of internal preventative maintenance guidelines,” said James Eason, Vice President of Operations.

In order to assess the urgency of projects, GBWC follows the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Asset Management 10-Box Framework to evaluate all aspects of the system. Through this asset management plan GBWC is trying to prolong the life of the assets that are part of the system and therefore spread the cost of capital improvements over a longer period.

GBWC has implemented a monitoring and maintenance protocol to evaluate the many different assets that are part of the water system. For example, when a well is undergoing rehabilitation, all available procedures to clean both mechanical and non-mechanical parts to the well are utilized. Throughout the cleaning process there may be parts that need to be replaced. On the other hand, if a well needs a specific repair, may be necessary to bring the well back online after some part of it failed. A repair can also turn into a rehabilitation if during the repair process it is determined that cleaning is necessary for the efficiency of the well. These are just some examples of the differences that can decide the urgency of a capital improvement project.

By implementing the asset management framework, GBWC aims to take a proactive approach instead of a reactive approach toward asset failure. GBWC staff believes the best defense against emergencies is to mitigate them through routine inspections, routine equipment maintenance, comprehensive sampling plans, security checks, usage checks, and communication. In the event of emergencies such as a natural disaster or a man-made event, the best response to a catastrophic interruption of service is to be prepared,” Eason said.

Look for Part 3 – “From Ground to Faucet – How Do I Get My Water?”, next month. For more information, visit GBWC online at: https://www.myutility.us/greatbasinwaterco.


How is My Rate Set? – Part 1 of 3 of Spring Creek Water Fundamentals

Investments in community infrastructure may not sound glamorous, but urgent projects such as replacing aging pipe have been a vital necessity to maintain our quality of life in Spring Creek.  As a customer of Great Basin Water Co. (GBWC), your water and sewer services are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) including the approval of major projects to sustain your water quality. Similarly, fluctuations in your year over year rates are regulated by the PUCN for a variety of reasons. 

The PUCN regulates most aspects of GBWC’s business, from what rates can be charged to what infrastructure investment should be done and when. Your rates are established only after extreme vetting by the PUCN through a rate case, which we are required by statute to file at least every three years.  This is to protect you, the customer, to keep the company from over-earning. In fact, Spring Creek experienced a rate decrease in the last rate case.  In order to begin the process of a rate change, GBWC files an application with the PUCN that becomes a publicly noticed rate case. Although, a main focal point of setting rates is a rate case, there are other aspects of the regulatory process that also factor into your bill. 

Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)  

The three-year ratemaking cycle begins with an Integrated Resource Plan, basically a strategy of capital projects GBWC submits to the PUCN for both a long term (20-years) and a short term (3-years) period. The PUCN focuses on the short-term evaluating the viability and necessity of each project. If each project is deemed prudent, it then becomes approved. The submitted IRP contains an abundance of information:  historical and forecasted consumption, system evaluations, water conservation needs, funding plans, proposed projects along with their conceptual design, costs, schedule, necessary permits, etc. The costs passed down to customers for infrastructure improvements are not evaluated until projects have been completed, put into service for your benefit, and final expenses have been scrutinized by the PUCN in a rate case.  This is where your voice really matters as capital investments typically have the largest impact on your rates.  What level of services are most important to you?  We want to hear.

System Improvement Rate (SIR)

Another component of ratemaking is SIR. Although rarely used, the PUCN may consider projects to be SIR eligible, allowing a project to be considered for recovery outside of a rate case.  As an example, an SIR might be used for vital pipe replacement. A benefit of SIR is that the your share of the cost of the pipe project would appear as a separate line item on your bill so you will know how that project impacts your rates, (until the next rate case when the project is wrapped into the general rates). While there is no pending SIR filing, it may happen in the future and we want you to have an understanding.

What is in a Rate Case?

As mentioned above, every three years GBWC is required to submit a rate case to the PUCN, an application to adjust rates both up or down.  A rate case is used to assess the costs and viability of the company’s service in their particular region. Each case is thousands of pages, consisting of details such as: proof of the capital projects that were completed, actual cost GBWC accrued to provide your service, advancements in technology that were implemented to better serve the customer, and the future viability of the company. This document is heavily scrutinized by the PUCN and the Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP). During the rate case, the PUCN also takes into consideration and holds in high regard public comments. The goal of PUCN staff is to make recommendations for rates that are reasonable and fair for customers while allowing GBWC to remain a viable business. While the possibility for higher rates is never a popular idea, providing safe and reliable water and wastewater is a priority for GBWC. Typically, additional costs in rate cases are directly correlated to the replacement of aging infrastructure that needs updating. Once GBWC proposes a rate case adjustment, it usually takes several months before the PUCN makes a final decision and the new rates will go into effect. 
 
rates are set

What can a customer do to be part of the decision?

According to their website, the PUCN is considered a quasi-judiciary body, functioning similar to a court of law. Participation in cases is limited to entities that are “party” to the proceedings and those parties may come under a few categories [depending on the type of case before the PUCN]: 
• The applicant
• The complainant
• The petitioner
• A respondent
• An intervener

According to the PUCN, the parties that participate in a rate case as a matter of right are PUCN staff and the BCP. After an application has been submitted to the PUCN for evaluation, a consumer session is held to allow the BCP, PUCN staff and GBWC staff to hear public comments. The notification that a consumer session is being held will be publicly noticed. At the session, customers will have time to voice their concerns about the application and potential rate changes. Alternatively, the PUCN holds general consumer sessions at least twice a year, in the county with the largest population (Clark), and the second largest population (Washoe).

Look for Part 2 – “Capital Improvements: What They Mean for the Customer”, next month. 

 

If a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory is Issued, What Can Customers Expect?

You receive a door tag, call, text or email about a water line or main break and a boil water advisory from Great Basin Water Company. But what does this mean? Is my water safe to use? What do I do?

Great Basin Water Co. (GBWC) is diligently upgrading and replacing aging infrastructure, but from time to time lines and mains break before or even after they are upgraded. Breaks can happen due to drastic changes in weather, age, and many other factors. When a customer notices either no water or exceptionally low pressure, GBWC will investigate with a technician on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our technicians are dedicated to quickly resolving these important concerns.

What is a precautionary boil water advisory?

As a precautionary measure when a line breaks, a boil water advisory is a public health recommendation for customers to boil the water they are planning to use for consumption (Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) 445A.67265 - 445A.67267). Although there has never been a report of contaminants in the GBWC system due to a main break, we are committed to keeping our customers safe. Because the water quality is unknown, customers should take the necessary precautions listed below. Once the issue has been evaluated and a boil water advisory issued, we notify only the affected customers with a door tag and through “My Utility Connect” (GBWC’s online portal to communicate directly with customers).

Why should customers boil water?

Contaminants could have entered the water supply through broken pipes or infrastructure before or during the repair. GBWC takes every precaution to clean and sanitize all the pipes and fittings used to make the repair (and, again, we have never had a sample come back positive for contaminants). Regardless, we always want to ensure customers have clean and safe drinking water. After the repairs are made, GBWC is diligently testing the water for safety before the precautionary boil advisory is listed.

What should I do during a Boil Water Advisory?

Boil tap water before using it for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth or preparing food. Bring tap water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute and let it cool. During an advisory, do not use water from any appliance connected to your water lines. This includes water and ice dispensers in your refrigerator/freezer. Use boiled or bottled water to make coffee and ice. Conversely, household dishwashers are generally safe to use if the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit or if the dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle.

Use boiled water; or wash and rinse dishes as normal. Then in a separate basin, add 1 teaspoon of unscented household bleach for each gallon of warm water. Soak dishes in basin for a least 1 minute. Let dishes air dry completely. It is safe to bath or shower but be careful not to swallow any water. Use caution when bathing babies and young children. Consider giving them a sponge bath to reduce the chance of them swallowing water.

What if I drank some of the water before I found out about the advisory?

This advisory was issued as a precaution, so your risk of getting sick is very low. However, if you begin to have a fever, diarrhea, or nausea you should seek medical attention.

How long will it last?

Water samples are taken as soon as possible following repairs and flushing of the lines. Two samples are sent to an outside lab that will test for contaminants such as E. coli and coliform. These tests must be a minimum of 24 hours apart to ensure that they are accurate. As soon as a temporary boil water advisory is issued, the GBWC team is working to repair the break, flush the system, and bring it back to normal pressure. Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) is notified of all breaks that occur. Additionally, NDEP must be notified when testing results are received to authorize the approval of a boil advisory to be lifted. A precautionary boil advisory can last a minimum of 48 hours to a few business days depending on the response time of the lab and other outside factors.

How will customers know when to start and stop boiling water?

The quickest way to be informed of any rare status change to the water supply is to sign-up online to My Utility Connect (MUC). MUC allows GBWC to auto call, text message and email any effected customers (via your opt-in choices) to let them know when a break and boil advisory has been issued and lifted. Blue tags are also placed on the doors of those homes in the areas that are affected when the boil advisory starts and after two samples comes back clean.

Providing safe and reliable water is the top priority for GBWC. Ensuring any issue is resolved in a timely fashion is also a top goal for the company and our staff. In case of an emergency or any concerns please do not hesitate to contact Great Basin Water Co. at (844) 694-4404. To register for My Utility Connect, please visit: https://connect.myutility.us/



Welcome... and Happy New Year!

You're reading the first edition of our Spring Creek Water News newsletter. These periodic newsletters will keep you informed of news and activities related to your water and wastewater services. We aim to make them informative, useful, and entertaining. Their content can be found on our Great Basin Water website and available any time!

The Great Basin Water Co. had its start in Spring Creek, and we now serve four Nevada communities.

Learn more about us and the infrastructure that ensures your reliable water and wastewater services.


Some Great Basin Water Fast Facts

We had our start in Spring Creek, and now serve four Nevada communities. Here are some fast facts about our company and the services we provide Spring Creek residents.

Spring Creek Infographic
The Great Basin Water Company

  • Established in Spring Creek in 1996.
  • In 2016, Utilities, Inc. filed a merger with the State re-naming its four divisions: 1) Utilities, Inc. of Nevada; 2) Utilities, Inc. of Central Nevada; 3) Sky Ranch Water Service; and 4) Spring Creek Utilities Co. into the Great Basin Water Company.
  • We’re a private, investor-owned utility, water and wastewater Nevada corporation with local decision-making and accountability.
  • We operate four divisions: Cold Springs, Pahrump, Spanish Springs, and Spring Creek.
  • We serve over 16,000 customers.

Our Spring Creek Division

Water

  • 2 water systems
  • 5,050+ connections
  • 122 miles of water mains
  • 12 wells
  • 9 storage tanks with 5.5 million-gallon (MG) capacity

Wastewater

  • 1 wastewater system
  • 86 connections
  • 3.5 miles of sewer mains
  • 1 wastewater treatment plant with 0.05 million-gallon per day (MGD) capacity
  • 2 lift stations
  • 2 septic systems

Local Service

  • 9 full-time employees!

New back-up power generators help secure our water supply

Even without electrical power, you’ll still have water.

In May, the Nevada Legislature enacted Natural Disaster Prevention Legislation (SB 329) that could impact water systems across the State in ways many of us would never have imagined.

The legislation requires NV Energy to have a plan in place to reduce the risk of wildfire starts by power lines and other electrical equipment. In times of elevated fire risk, such as drought and wind storms, NV Energy may temporarily cut power to at-risk areas. Without electrical power, freshwater wells and facilities that deliver precious water to our homes—and fire hydrant systems—could be affected.

An increasing threat

wildfire threatening homes-sm

Though the 46,706 wildfires reported across the US this year was less than in previous years, their scale and human impact only seems to increase.

Most notable were the California wildfires of late October that led to the evacuation of over 200,000 people. By the time the last flames were extinguished, 27 deaths and injuries had been reported, 751 structures destroyed or damaged, and 253,321 acres burned.

Some of these wildfires were attributed to high-voltage transmission lines and electrical installations, which have been the cause of past wildfires. As a result, many states are taking steps to reduce this risk through mandatory power cuts, to large areas, during high-risk periods. No doubt this will lead to more power disruptions in the future.

Back-up power generators for Spring Creek

At Great Basin Water we’ve always prioritized safe, secure, and consistent delivery of water and wastewater services through the installation of back-up power capabilities. These ensure uninterrupted water supply during any power outage, be it local, regional, or state-wide. We’ve gone even further in response to these latest developments and have now secured our entire Spring Creek system with the purchase of new back-up power generators. 

Details of these infrastructure upgrades are:

  • Earlier this year, 150kW and 200kW back-up generators were installed on 3 freshwater wells. A fourth well is serviced by a new, portable 100kW generator. These are in addition to generators already installed on our remaining 8 wells.
  • Our SCADA system, which allows us to remotely monitor and control our operations, now counts on a back-up power source.
  • A back-up generator was installed at our Spring Creek offices and operations center.

These installations are enhancements to our existing back-up power generation capability at our wastewater treatment center, lift stations, and booster locations.

We take pride in reassuring our Spring Creek neighbors that now all critical infrastructure for Great Basin water and wastewater systems have back-up power generation. This will ensure a safe and secure supply of water during all types of power outages, including during times of wildfire and other natural disaster threats.

Should you like more information on this or any aspect of our operations, please contact us!


Water tips to get you safely through a Spring Creek winter

Winter’s bite can play havoc with household plumbing. At the very least, frozen pipes may mean missing that morning shower, at worst, costly damage and repairs. Here are some tips so you don’t wake up to frozen pipes. 

frozen outdoor tap-sm 

Before freezing weather:

  • Familiarize yourself and everyone in your household as to the location of the main water shut-off valve. Finding and closing this valve is the first step in any type of water emergency. The valve is normally on the street side of your home, and often near the water heater or washing machine.
  • Disconnect and drain hoses from outside faucets. If your home has shut-off valves for outside faucets 
    (usually in the basement or crawl space) make sure they’re closed, and the outside faucet is open and drained. If your home doesn’t have outside faucet shut-off valves, then wrap each faucet with insulation. Your local home improvement store can recommend the best materials and methods.
  • Likewise, insulate pipes and faucets in unheated areas, such as garage, crawl space, or attic.
  • Turn off and drain irrigation systems and backflow devices. Wrap backflow devices with insulating material.
  • Cover foundation vents with foam blocks, thickly folded newspaper, or cardboard. 
During freezing weather:

  • Set your thermostat to at least 55° F.
  • Open cupboard doors under sinks to let interior heat warm pipes, especially when pipes pass through outside walls.
  • When you’re not using water, and during the night, keep a slow steady drip of cold water running at an inside faucet farthest from the water shut-off valve. This keeps water moving, making it less likely to freeze.
  • If you’re away for a longer time, you should consider shutting off your home’s water to reduce the chances of frozen or broken pipes. Contact us for more information.
  • Have your plumber and Great Basin Water’s ((844) 694-4404) telephone number handy. During an extended cold spell, your pipes might freeze despite your best precautions.
If your pipes freeze:

  • Determine which pipe(s) are frozen. If some faucets work but others don’t, that means pipes inside your home are likely frozen. If none of your faucets work, there may be a problem at the street, and you should contact us.
  • Find the frozen pipe(s) and attempt to thaw them with a hair dryer at a low setting. Move the hair dryer back and forth along the frozen area. NEVER try to thaw a frozen pipe with boiling water or an open flame.
  • Shut off water and power (or gas) to the water heater if you have a leak or broken pipe. Contact us if you’re unable to find the shut-off valve or the valve doesn’t work.
  • Consult your plumber or home improvement store if you have persistent problems with pipe


MyUtilityConnect™ is the easy way to manage your utility account

Sign up today for MyUtilityConnect, our mobile and desktop app that lets you manage your water utility billing and notifications. You can even use it to remotely see your water usage!