Hi everyone –
I’ve got a small update and a big one to share with you.
First, you’ll recall that DNR is bringing their crews out for fireline clearance work. They will chip any downed limbs you’ve got ready. This will take place sometime after November 19 (they’re also working in Edelweiss and dealing with weather, so it’s tough to pinpoint). If you haven’t done so, let me know if you wish to partake in their services.
Second, we are facing a big — but temporary — issue with the Department of Health (DOH). We learned last week that they have placed a moratorium on new construction in the Woodlands because our septic meter readings were beyond a threshold they had set previously. The LWHA Board, DOH, and Okanogan County folks all believe this is a mis-reading or malfunctioning equipment. Here’s what happened, in the spirit of full transparency.
- Our current septic system was originally permitted to serve 20 homes or have a 7,000 gallons per day (gpd) flow.
- Two years ago, LWHA examined expanding our septic system because we were beyond the 20 homes. We commissioned a study for this expansion, but determined our gpd was 621, less than 10% of the design capacity.
- DOH accepted this study and agreed that no expansion was necessary at the time. However, they said our flow rate must be metered and that when we pass 5,250 gpd (75% of capacity) we must expand the system.
- The LWHA Board has been fairly confident in the last two years that we will never come close to reaching the DOH milestone since so few homes are primary residences.
- However, our last annual report submitted by our operator (John Burdick from Okanogan County), the meter reading was over 7,000 gdp…over a 1000% increase since the study.
- Because the meter exceeded DOH’s 5,250 gpd limit, they placed a moratorium on new connections (building permits).
- We do not believe any new construction or changes in behavior that have occured since the study could possibly result in a 1000% increase in sewage flow.
So that’s where we are right now. Our plan moving forward is as follows:
- DOH is willing to lift the moratorium if there is evidence the 7,000 gpd reading is wrong.
- There is already a secondary meter installed and it is being read by the County periodically.
- I confirmed with DOH that if we can accumulate 3 months of readings from the new meter showing our gpd is below the 5,250 limit, the moratorium is lifted.
- The first reading from the new meter was 1,880 gpd, much more consistent with historical trends.
- DOH, John Burdick, and I (as well as Lee Whittaker, who has volunteered to assist) will meet in three months to review findings.
- I have already spoken with members who are directly affected by this via phone.
As members, the takeaways for you are: we’re proactively working the problem, we believe it is an error or a malfunction, and we are beginning to see evidence of that. If you already have a building permit, this will not affect your ability to get a certificate of occupancy.
Apologies for the long email — we thought it was important to keep you all looped in on this situation. Please feel free to email me with any questions or concerns, and I will keep everyone updated as this situation evolves.
P.S. On a lighter note — the sheep! They’re back! They’re from BCS Livestock, and you can purchase their wool products at the Mazama Store.