Employees and the board of directors were honored and updates were provided during the 48th Annual Greater Pine Island Water Association meeting last week.
Dan Widerhold received a plaque for working with the water association for five years in the water distribution division, as well as being a water quality technician. He is also responsible for marking the water lines when contractors want to dig near them.
Athena LaDue was recognized for working with the water association for five years in customer service and water billing. She was just recently promoted to bookkeeper.
The office manager and executive secretary to the board and general manager, Renee Clark, was recognized for her 35 years with the water association.
A recognition award was also given to Maryann Schroyder for her exemplary 11-years of service as the water association's bookkeeper. She is retiring.
In addition, a few board members were also recognized for their years of service.
John Cammick, who represented eastern Matlacha, received a crystal plaque for serving from 2007-2013. Caryln Herring, who represented St. James City, also received a plaque for serving from 1997-2013.
"It has been an honor to serve in this community I love so much," Herring said of her 16 years of service.
The results of the election for the three open positions on the board of directors were also revealed during the meeting.
William Paul Brown, who ran for the Matlacha seat, received 724 votes; Charles Nick Mohar, who ran for the St. James City position, received 572 votes; and Paul Pelky Jr., who also ran for the St. James City seat, received 265 votes. The at large positions were sought by Sonny Koutsoutis, who received 331 votes; Danna McDermott, who received 226 votes; and Lee Michael Tango, who received 261 votes.
Brown, Mohar and Koutsoutis won the election and will serve for a three-year term.
Article XV, a proposed amendment to the water association's bylaws that was brought forth by a petition, passed with 684 votes. One hundred and eighty voted against the article.
"The proposed amendment is now a part of our bylaws," President Mike Faulkner said.
The article reads, "Addition, removal, or alteration of substances into, or from the water supply that are intended for processing and sanitation of water shall be exempt from this article. Nutrients and other substances that are deemed beneficial to public health may be added to, or removed from the Greater Pine Island Water Association, Inc. water supply system by a majority vote of the voting membership in a regular or special meeting of the association unless specifically mandated or prohibited by law or regulatory agency."
It further states that "The Board of Directors shall not be authorized to add, remove, or alter the level of nutrients and other substances to or from the water upon their discretion without the passage of a majority vote of the voting membership in a regular or special meeting, except upon the immediate need or cause of public safety. If the Board of Directors add, remove, or alter the level of nutrients or other substances for the purpose of immediate public safety concern, they must notify the members of such action, and schedule a meeting not later than 30 days from the action for the purpose of calling a vote of the membership for the majority approval or disapproval of the action. Such actions that are disapproved by a majority vote of the membership shall be reversed, and the water shall be restored to its previous condition."
General Manger Bill Thacher provided a report for those in attendance of what occurred at the water association the past year and what lies ahead in the year 2013.
"Since we started 48 years ago, we have produced 15 billion gallons of water for this community," he said.
Last year, the water association reached a new record for the amount of customers/meters they service. Thacher said they have more than 6,700 customers, which is 39 more than last year.
In 2012, the Greater Pine Island Water Association membership used 416 million gallons of water.
Thatcher said the water association is in very good shape administratively, financially and operationally in water distribution. The water plant recently increased its capacity by 25 percent over the last several years.
"That should carry us to 2025 until we have to consider adding onto the plant," Thacher said.
In 2012, the water association had major structural repairs done at the water plant due to the equipment being 10 years old. Problematic water lines east of Island Avenue were also fixed.
Thacher also provided an update on a project that has been in the works for quite some time, which involves computerizing all the water valves that are located in the ground. He said a lot of the valves were buried and paved over, which is the nature of the business.
So far, they have located 1,500 valves, which were digitized, identified by satellite and computerized so they can be found easily on the map when an issue surfaces.
The project will help the water association locate where a water outage is occurring prior to shutting down unnecessary valves.
Thacher said when the water supply has to be turned off, or other issues arise like a boil notice, they put the information into a reverse 911 system, which puts a call out to the emergency phone numbers on file.
Enhancements were also made last year with members paying for their bills. Thacher said they are now allowing the membership to use credit cards to pay bills.
Thacher said they are looking to add additional services by the Internet in 2013. He said they are also looking into sending water bills out electronically, as well as providing the option for members to view their water bill online.
Thacher also shared what projects will be done during 2013.
A project that is in cue involves the eastern Pine Island Road Project. Thacher said they will have to move 1.5 miles of water line about 80-100 feet south of where they are located today on Pine Island Road between Burnt Store Road and Chiquita Boulevard.
"It is our primary capital project this year," Thacher said, due to replacing the water lines.
The project is estimated to cost approximately $1 million.
Thacher said he anticipates that they will start mobilizing to the construction site as early as August due to the bid being awarded in June.
The next major capital project, he said they do not anticipate will occur until 2022 or 2025.
Thacher said if money is available, they want to replace 2,000 feet of problematic waterlines on Stabile Road in St. James City. He said they have been fighting those waterlines for some time.
The water association also wants to eventually put bigger waterlines into 15 neighborhoods, so they can add fire hydrants to those areas. Thacher said it will be a minimum 10-year project that will cost between $17-20 million.
He also spoke about the lack of membership growth, which is their most pressing issue for the future. Thacher said all the growth ended in 2007.
The water association has averaged 22 new member customers a year since 2007. Prior to 2007 they had 140 new customers a year.
"That's a difference of $300,000 a year that we are no longer making," Thacher said.