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History

In July 1952, five persons created a nonprofit corporation: Camano Water Association (CWA), to exist in perpetuity to serve an area of about 1.7 square miles, 1,075 acres, on Camano Island known as the Country Club. The Garrison and Hartman families owned this land, and five of their members became the first Trustees of CWA.

Over the years the Trustees wrote bylaws to conform to the Articles of Incorporation and modified these bylaws from time to time. The Trustees enacted the current version on September 27, 1997.

For a member, the key document is the Application for Membership, a contract that guarantees that CWA will supply water to the lot to which the membership is attached. This document specifies that membership can be transferred only with that particular lot. When a person acquires land within the CWA service area, he or she must sign an Application for Membership before becoming eligible for a hookup or to receive water from CWA for that particular piece of land.

The Trustees develop policies as needed, for example, policies which define developer, membership and late fees, water and standby charges, Cross Connection Control, and how to distinguish and segregate capital from operational income.

The State of Washington granted the first water rights for Well #1 in 1963 but those rights had not been perfected and were reduced by Washington State in 1984. However, DOE and DOH granted expanded rights in 1990 sufficient to serve the estimated full build-out of 1300 hookups.

Eight wells were drilled between 1952 and 1997. Six of these wells can still be used to supply domestic water. CWA acquired a five-acre tract to be used for a well field in 1989 and has since installed its three highest producing wells: Wells 6, 7, and 8 in that location. Two more well sites are stubbed out and wells could be drilled there when needed. Smaller wells 2 and 3 were abandoned. Wells 5 or 1 can be turned on during high-use months but Well 4 can only be used in emergencies. Water from Wells 5, 1, and 4, is untreated but is blended with treated water if one of these wells is turned on.

From the beginning, CWA employed the engineering firm of Leonard, Boudinot and Skodje, Inc. (LBS) of Mt. Vernon, Washington, for mapping, designing, and submitting plans to the state and to Island County. The service area is hilly and CWA has always been a gravity-fed system. LBS plans divide the system into three pressure subsystems: Monticello, Crestview, and Pressurized. Reservoirs and wells were first built on three high points in the service area and served the Monticello, Crestview, and Pressure subsystems of the unified system. Instead of their own wells, today the Crestview and Pressure subsystems and their reservoirs are served by well field water pumped first into the Monticello reservoirs. Currently, three of the seven functioning reservoirs are located on the highest hill in the Monticello service area and together hold 275,000 gallons. In a power outage during which the well pumps do not run, members receive water normally as long as these high reservoirs have water in them.

The Mountain View pressurized subsystem at a high elevation in the south end has a potential for less than 70 hookups, and is equipped with its own pressurized system which the manager had doubled and upgraded in 2001. In 2004, CWA installed a long-overdue, small, pressurized system capable of serving up to 10 hookups across the street from the three main reservoirs.

At some point, LBS drew and filed the service area and then redrew it in 1994. Both versions omitted seven acres at the north end, which were part of a 25-acre parcel owned by one of the original incorporators. These acres were officially annexed by vote of the members in 2001.

In their first attempt to control hydrogen sulfide, iron, and manganese in the well water, the Trustees installed aeration sprinklers at the top of every reservoir. While successful with both iron and hydrogen sulfide, aeration does not remove manganese. Therefore, CWA constructed an ozone treatment plant in the well field and put it into service in 1995. By mid-1999, the ozone treatment plant so improved water quality that routine flushing became virtually unnecessary. However, over the years, this plant proved unreliable. Treated water contained manganese below raw water but increasingly above MCL. The manager and Trustees consider the ozone treatment plant expensive and difficult to maintain and no longer sufficiently effective to keep. As of early 2005, a different treatment system was undergoing pilot tests and was expected to be installed in 2005.

The Country Club real estate office handled all records and billing for CWA until then-owner, Dan Garrison, turned his assets over to the Board of Trustees for the Corporation. In those days, members paid $12 a year whether or not they received water. Now CWA has a conservation schedule with higher rates for higher water use. Thus, members pay more for each succeeding block of 15,000 gallons per two-month billing period. Members without a hookup pay a flat fee called a “standby” fee.

CWA has had as many as three full-time employees. In December 1985, the CWA Board of Trustees hired its first regular employee, Carl Gary. In May 1989, it hired the first records person, Margaret Plucker. As of 2005, there are two full-time employees: a system manager and an office manager. Additional work is contracted out with a local water company: Quality Water Care.

CWA uses Badger meters and Badger software for the meter reading and billing programs. The meters are equipped with transducers that allow remote reading to a device capable of recording all the meters in the system. The device is downloaded directly into a computer and bills are printed automatically on a two-part mailable card.

As of July 1994, average use had risen to 585 gallons per service per day. CWA had the system fully metered in 1996. Average household use dropped to 333 gallons per service per day in August 1997, the highest-use month, and was only 390 gallong per service per day in July of 2004, still an amount much lower than the state requirement of 800 gallons per day per hookup. Summer watering and water used in flushing make the average higher; unoccupied residences make the average use lower.

Updated 2/13/11