Blakely Island Maintenance Commission, Inc.

Minutes of August 21, 2004 BIMC Board meeting


Marc Droppert, President
John Madden, Vice President
John Howieson, Water Commissioner
Cindy Zech, Treasurer
Ben Dole, Fire and Waste Commissioner
Ron Griffin, Secretary
Jim Davis, Facilities Manager

BIMC visiting members:

Russ Keyes
Pam and Gary Roats
Harold Bartram
Molly Crowley
Mark Smith
Phyllis Chennault
Dick Shanaman

The meeting was called to order by Marc Droppert at 9:08 AM

The minutes of the July 11 Board meeting were approved unanimously.

Water Project update – Russ Keyes reviewed the new winning bid of August 10, 2004 and compared it to the previous bid of May 17, 2004. The new bid came in within expectations and the project should come in at or below the budgeted value. Work is scheduled to commence in mid September and is expected to take one month to complete. The Roats’ asked for detail regarding routing, landscaping impact and risk to the retaining wall. Russ explained that the route was optimized as approved at the general membership meeting to maximize raw water availability to residents north of the end of the runway and out to driftwood beach. The Roats’ suggested and welcomed that the planned route area be marked as soon as possible so that they can see where the excavation work will be done on the BIMC road right-of-way and so that they can move or protect any plants in advance of the excavation if they prefer to. A motion to approve project as budgeted and described was unanimously approved after no questions were

raised in the discussion period after the motion was made. Harold Bartram stated that he favored increasing the raw water system pumping capacity at the lake to provide additional fire fighting capacity on the island regardless of irrigation demand. Doing so is not budgeted as part of the approved water project. Currently, our pumps (domestic and irrigation systems) are sized to keep BIMC combined raw and domestic usage within the daily withdraw limit specified by our State granted water right.

3. Russ Keyes also addressed a number of questions and possible solutions for board consideration concerning the water system. The following summarizes the issues, related discussions and related board actions taken:

a. Raw water hookups have increased by 6 since the July general meeting and total hookups foreseen in the near term are estimated at 20 to 25.

a. No hard plumbed, in–ground, shared water connections will be permitted..

b. A few lots have shared domestic water connections. When meters are installed, separate meter hardware and plumbing will be installed ready for owners to make separate connections at their own expense when they can run a pipe or have to do other water plumbing such as leak correction. In the meantime, owners will be jointly responsible for managing usage below 500 gallons per day for the shared connection.

c. There was a discussion of both participating in the cost of the current water project and on-going water use for two non-assessed properties which currently have water hookups. A specific policy will need to be adopted to address these properties.

d. The cost for Blakely domestic water production is estimated to be approximately $.80/hundred gallons (which compared favorably with San Juan communities with small water systems). Hopefully, after meters are installed and leaks are corrected, Blakely usage will be under the 250 gallon per day average Washington state residential guideline and excessive use policies will not have to be developed. Gary Roats noted that BIMC could lose its exemption from regulation by the Washington State UTC if it sells water to non-members. Molly Crowley asked about raw water availability for the marina. Russ said that the plan included running raw water to the marina area and they can chose to connect to the BIMC raw water system or maintain their current connection to the Taggeres’ raw water system.

e. A policy for over usage was discussed. Usage will be monitored after meters are installed to permit data collection and the water commissioner will discuss usage with owners as required to achieve compliance with the community guidelines. Mark Smith indicated that the water commission should approach water usage abusers for corrective action first. Ben Dole suggested that a summary of water usage guidelines be published for owners. Action on a definitive compliance policy was deferred for further consideration.


f. All connections will be made with ¾ inch, connections utilizing standard 5/8 inch meters. By unanimous vote, a policy was adopted that for connections requiring more than a standard meter (a few 2 inch), the property owner will be charged by BIMC for any incremental costs above the standard ¾ inch hookup cost.

g. A motion was made regarding meter installation cost reimbursement to owners who have already installed meters at their expense to be actual cost paid up to $100. Passed with one dissenting vote.

h. Management of the raw water system is expected to be by the users of the system. A recommendation was made that the BIMC water commissioner would chair a meeting of raw water system users in May 2005 after readings can be made and the system is operating with most users. The raw water system users can decide how the raw water system will be managed.

i. Notification to owners to confirm their interest in a raw water connection and use was made in Marc Droppert’s August 19th, 2004 letter to owners.

j. Initially meter reading will be done frequently to detect leaks. Of 6 meters recently installed, two homes had leaks. One leak was repaired and the second homeowner will be notified to repair theirs. The meters have a sensitive pinwheel which will detect (turn) with even just a slow drip. Domestic water system usage has decreased approximately 25% since the July general membership meeting.

k. Russ will follow up with Janet Taggares on how to proceed with conversion of the Taggares system connections.

l. Compliance and potential remedies for compliance on water usage discussions were moved to be tabled by John Madden.

4. Fire and Waste Committee Report by Ben Dole. Ben said that most of the information was summarized the July 24th Fire Committee Report posted with the July 11 board minutes on the web site and in Marc’s letter to owners – fire boxes had been installed in the identified locations and SPU and the south end homeowners group were working with BIMC for an integrated fire response solution on Blakely where all systems would be compatible. Dick Shanaman said that the “Blakely Island Fire Service” had been established by Ken Parker, Bill Langworthy and others to provide additional equipment for Blakely Island including 2 six-by trucks, and an additional pumper truck that they plan to house in a depot at the pump house turn-off and placement of a truck at SPU. Dick said that the group was investigating insurance and developing maintenance and training plans. Gary Roats stated that the buffer strip was heavily loaded with debris which is a fire hazard. A discussion of buying or renting a chipper followed, with the conclusion that a heavy duty commercial chipper would be required with trained operators. Pam Roats suggested the board consider having an outside contractor do the buffer strip cleanup. Homeowners could then maintain it for several years before requiring heavy cleanup effort again. Phyllis Chennault said that the buffer strip branches were overgrown to the point that she

has difficulty driving on the road behind her property and they should be trimmed. The fire committee will consider the buffer strip issues for a recommendation for future action.

5. Treasurer Cindy Zech summarized finances – the checking account has approximately $67,000 after $27,550 was transferred from checking to the maintenance reserve as per the approved 2004/2005 budget, creating a maintenance reserve balance of approximately $156,000. Raw water hookup fees are being transferred to the operating account as previously decided by the BIMC board. BIMC was audited by Lynnwood based (Snohomish County) Employment Security Agency based on the contact address previously provided to them, and we were determined to be in total compliance. The contact address has been changed to Blakely Island so any future audits will be by the local San Juan County office.

6. Property Manager Report by Jim Davis is attached. Jim saved BIMC owners significant costs by repairing a water treatment plant valve and meter and avoided an up to two week water production interruption which obtaining a new (custom) valve could have caused. Jim, Margo and Terry Pence continue water certification training (state required) and tend the treatment facility several times per day. BIMC water quality is good and availability has been uninterrupted. Domestic water usage has dropped approximately 25% since the general meeting, reducing the load on the plant. Dick Shanaman asked if Jim had developed an operating manual for BIMC. Jim said that he had a 25 page manual and would e-mail it to BIMC board members. Harold Bartram announced that he did not need his hanger and was considering selling it or alternately would want a lease rate increase.

7. President’s Report – Marc mailed his letter dated August 19, 2004 to owners to summarize board activity and community initiatives. Mark Smith expressed his appreciation for the Board’s and Facility managers in relation to an incident that occurred in front of his home. Gary Roats gave a letter to Marc of the Roats’ concerns to the board. Gary requested a response and Marc agreed to review these concerns and provide a response. There was a discussion of the proposed community initiatives (1) of a quantity purchase of fire extinguishers, (2) low flow toilets and low flow shower heads and (3) low water landscaping. There was also a brief discussion of the Long Range Planning Committee’s mission. The goal is to plan for adequate capital reserves to meet predictable needs so that we can avoid large assessments in the future, prioritize what matters need to be done to avoid expenses in the future and provide a safer, more effective environment for Blakely Island residents and guests. Molly Crowley said that children have been riding motor bikes on her property and she would like residents to remind their children that motorized vehicles are not to be ridden on private property. It was agreed to post the following notice in the minutes of this meeting.



8. A motion was made to move to executive session for discussion of the following issues and the following motions were made and approved after returning to open session:

MA. A motion was made to allow time payment of the BIMC annual assessment only in the case of demonstrated financial need as approved by the board. Unanimous approval.

MB. A motion was made to clarify that Jim Davis’ status as a Special Deputy for San Juan County. If Blakely residents have a law enforcement issue, they should call the San Juan County Sheriff’s office first. The San Juan County Sheriff will decide what, if any, involvement Jim should have, at the Sheriff’s direction. Unanimous approval.

MC. A motion was made regarding personal verbal attacks and threats to BIMC board members and the BIMC facility managers. In the interest of the community the BIMC board requests that any questions or concerns be brought to the board in writing for resolution. Blakely is a small community in a quiet, peaceful setting. All residents are asked to treat others with respect and as responsible adults. A motion was made to document incidents and refer issues to the BIMC board for resolution. Unanimously passed.

D. There was also a discussion (but no action taken) of the status of the Davis’ current employment agreement.

E. There was discussion of Upper island easement rights abuses that have occurred by owners and guests, some without owners accompanying their guests. Owners have a responsibility to explain the rules regarding smoking, airstrip use, driving and easement areas to guests to ensure compliance and avoid accidents and damage to Blakely Island properties, it is preferred to do so without imposing signage. Please read and adhere to the BIMC bylaws recently sent to all members. There is a desire to avoid signs and the appearance of unnecessary regulation on Blakely. This places a higher burden on owners to inform their families and guests of the rules we have developed for the community to function safely and with respect for the rights of others.

9. Meeting adjourned 1:50 PM.

Ron Griffin

BIMC Secretary


Facility Manager’s Report
Jim Davis
August 21st 2004

Water Treatment Plant


As part of our State required “continuing education”, Margaret and I attended water system management classes in Mount Vernon in May. Terry and I attended water treatment training in Friday Harbor in June. The latter class focused on optimizing filtration performance through the use of “jar testing”. This apparatus allows us to simulate the coagulation and flocculation process that occurs in our plant, only on a much smaller scale (2 liter jars). Our mechanical stirring apparatus is set up to run six such tests simultaneously. Each jar has a different chemical “dosage” added and the mechanism stirs the mix at the same rate as our plant. By observing the flock formation and testing the filterability from each jar, we can fine-tune the dosage that will give us the best result through our plant. The instructor offered to come to Blakely to give us additional, on site, training. Since his time was being funded by an EPA government grant, we readily agreed. Several jar tests were conducted and we learned that our process was already optimized. However, the instructor had some recent experience with a plant similar to ours, where better results were obtained with a slightly higher dose of polymer. This trick does not give immediate results because the polymer accumulates slowly in the filter media and helps to trap the smaller-weaker flocks. After a couple of days of increased polymer dosage, we started to see lower filtered water turbidities. Overall, our filter performance has improved about 20%. The down side is that more material trapped in the filter media, means less time between backwashes. The instructor also recommended restoring our filter media by replacing the top few inches. The material is anthracite coal. The problem with old media is that it wears down from the turbulence and collisions that occur during the backwash cycle. After a backwash, the media settles with the more coarse material at the bottom and the finest material at or near the top of the bed. Since the filter is a down flow unit, it would work best if the water flowed through the course material first leaving the large flocks near the top and then through the finer material to catch the smallest particles. Since we can’t achieve this with our system, the next best thing is to keep all of our media as close to the same size as possible. I will be ordering several bags of new media in September. We will remove the fine, worn material and install the new, properly sized coal. This should result in longer backwash cycles and thus less backwash water will be required.

We stared to see fluctuations in the flow from the pump house to the water plant, during the later half of June. I thought I had located the problem when the inflow meter refused to indicate any flow, after a backwash one day. Upon disassembling the meter, I found significant corrosion inside the meter body and the impeller bearing was jammed with chunks of corrosion. I was able to get the impeller spinning again but the bearing was very rough. The housing was so corroded that I had trouble getting it sealed when it was reassembled. In short, this twenty-year old meter was shot and probably, subject to failure again at any time. I located the manufacturer and discovered that a direct replacement was no longer available. All of their units are special order and each one is built to the customer’s specifications. I elected to go with a newer design that should give us longer service, without the corrosion problems of our old unit. Unfortunately, the Washington distributor goofed up the order and they had to build it twice. I finally received the new meter two weeks ago and started planning for the installation. Since the dimensions were different, I had to cut and glue new pipe and fittings in place. Trying to do this during the

summer when the plant must produce water every day was a challenge. I waited until a day when the reservoirs were full to shut down production and cut out the old parts. Upon removing the old meter I was able to look down inside our “pressure-sustaining valve” that regulates the flow into the plant. This valve is a critical component of our system in that is keeps air from entering the line and allows us to take advantage of a bit of siphon effect over the top of the hill. What I saw in the top of this valve were large “tubercules” made up of corrosion and mineral deposits. We do not keep a spare for this very expensive valve, so I continued with installing the meter and gluing the pipe-fittings in place. Once everything was installed and while the glue was setting up, I removed the pressure valve and took it to the shop. The inlet side turned out to be in worse shape than the outlet I had viewed earlier. It appeared that the valve could not function as intended with all of the corrosion buildup present. I completely disassembled the valve and spent several hours scraping and wire brushing all of the corrosion from the interior and the superficial rust from the exterior. I then refinished it with Rustolium. All of the parts were reassembled the following morning and the plant put back into service. Unfortunately, when one thing is changed it affects everything else. The refurbished valve was no longer adjusted to the proper pressure/flow. Air was allowed to enter the pipeline and we lost our siphon over the top of the hill. The entrained air bound our filter and we were forced to decrease the time between backwashes. Flows into the plant decreased from sixty to less than forty gallons per minute. Yikes! What a mess. A good illustration of the complexities of our system and how quickly a small glitch can snowball into a major problem. I got the valve adjusted back to the required specifications. However, air was still getting into the supply line and the system was losing pressure each time the plant shut down. I checked the “air-vac” valves located a couple of hundred feet North of the top of the pipeline and found the problem. These valves are designed to let air in or out but keep the water in when under pressure. The pressure-sustaining valve is adjusted so the air-vac valve is always under a very slight pressure. Both air-vac valves (domestic and untreated supply lines) were leaking, thus the sources of the air entering the water plant supply line as well as the problem maintaining pressure. I disassembled both of these valves and found more large “tubercules”. These buildups were limiting the travel of the float and keeping the valve from closing all of the way. I cleaned both of them and returned them to service. At last, the process was under control. It has taken more than a week to get the air out of the line and reestablish the siphon over the top of the hill. With the siphon working again, our flow is back up to about sixty-four gallons per minute. What an ordeal!

Water Use

With the policy changes instituted at the annual meeting our water use is down considerably. For July and the first half of August we are down about 25% over last year. This is more significant when we consider the very dry summer we are having and the fact that our population is up this year over last.

Water Meter Installations

We have begun to install water meters on all domestic service connections. Since the annual meeting I have installed 13 meters. We had eight meters installed prior to the meeting so we now have 21 individual service meters on domestic water connections. This leaves us with about 100 to go. Each installation is a little different depending on service line size and material, valve installation, proximity to the road, etc. I will continue with the installations, as time is available. We have a meter installation bid from the contractor that has been awarded the untreated pipeline extension project. However, it looks like we will save about $250 to $300 for every one we can install ourselves. Some of our young residents were doing a community service project last week

and they helped me dig some of holes for the most recent installations. Ever see the movie “Holes”? We didn’t find any treasure. However, we have already found some leaks and to me, that’s the next best thing! I will read the meters for the first time at the end of this month and we will have some good, actual usage, data to contemplate.

Water Connections

We recently assigned BIMC’s last available, approved, water hookup. Until the State approves more connections we will not be able to supply water to lots where there is not a current connection. This means no residential building permits can be approved for new development. The good news on this front is that the Department of Health has indicated a willingness to approve a few more connections (if needed) after we get meters installed on all connections and if we can show a reduction in consumption. Since we are looking good on the consumption end, we have only to complete the meter project to take them up on their offer. We will still be required to submit a complete engineering study and increase our reservoir capacity to get the complete approval for the remaining lots.

Irrigation Distribution Line Extension

I completed a pipeline extension of several hundred feet in May. This work took place near the Southwest end of the runway. Three additional members have purchased irrigation water connections on this new section. In July I extended the main from the North end of the runway to lot 130. Two additional members in that area have purchased the new $2,500/1,000-gallon per day connections. Four additional connections were purchased along the East side of the airport. Three of these have been hooked up. We now have fourteen users connected to the BIMC untreated system.

The construction specifications have been agreed on for the untreated pipeline extension to Driftwood Beach. The new line will run along Marine Drive, up the hill from the marina and all the way to Driftwood Beach. If you live along this route and would like to connect to the system, please contact John Howieson or myself. This way we will get your connection put in as the pipeline is installed. We will also be installing a new (larger size) domestic water distribution main along the upper road from the Northeast corner of lot 129 to lot 160 near the fire hydrant. Three contractors reviewed the installation specifications. We received two bids to do the work. We chose the Earthworks Company as the installing contractor. This decision was based on the low bid, as well as the contractor’s willingness to follow routing, which will result in the least amount of pavement patching. The choice of the route was based on minimizing cost and damage to roadways and landscaped areas. The project will all be installed on BIMC property and in most areas the pipe will be installed within a couple of feet of the pavement edge. If you live along this route and are concerned about the impact to landscaping that extends onto BIMC property, please contact the Board or myself. To best insure the health of your landscape, you may wish to remove your plants and replace them after the pipe has been installed.


From time to time there is confusion about where aircraft may park. The grass area along the entire east side of the runway (between the thresholds) is the designated general aircraft tie-down area. There is no room to park along the West side of the runway between the taxiway and the runway. All of the property along the West side of the taxiway is privately owned. Please do not park on private property without the permission of the property owner. The area around the hangars is reserved for the hangar owners and tenants. The property surrounding the plane stop

is leased to BIMC. This area is only for loading and unloading of passengers and freight. By written agreement with the property owner, aircraft may not be left parked on this property for any period of time.

Pilots and guests should be reminded that the use of the Blakely airport including the parking areas/tie-downs is at your/their own risk. Some of the parking area can be rough and may be soft when wet. Our facilities, including tie-down areas, may not be appropriate for some types of aircraft.

Please remember that the taxiway is just that. All aircraft have the right-of-way over pedestrians and other vehicles. Please advise your guests and children to stay out of the way of taxiing aircraft. Please do not park vehicles closer than thirty-feet from the taxiway.

On August 12th, Jim Tompkins brought to my attention the fact that the runway lights were not working, from the center ramp to the South end, on the West side, including all but one of the four South-end threshold lights. All the splices I have located in the supply lines, in the past, have been immediately adjacent to the light. I checked all of these splices and found no problem. The mystery was that there seemed to be one splice missing! With Jim Tompkins holding the flashlight (thanks Jim!) I finally located a three-way splice about ten feet away from one of the threshold lights. The splice had been made with twist-on wire-nuts and was protected from moisture by what looked and felt like a plastic sandwich bag. This was done prior to my arrival on Blakely. The wire nuts were corroded, the ends of the wires burned and the insulation was melted and cracked. By replacing a fifteen-foot section of one wire, I was able to cut the others back to good material/insulation. The new splice was made with direct-bury waterproof connectors and all of the runway lights are again functional.

We had a landing incident on our runway on June 26th. Fortunately, there were no injuries and only minor damage to the aircraft.


We loaded another thirty-yard dumpster with recycle paper, cardboard and plastic last week. We were just able to get all the material in so the timing was perfect. Again, our community service young men assisted in this project. Their help was appreciated since we were given only an hour and a half to complete the loading before the truck returned to pick up the dumpster. Our next load out will be crushed glass. Transport will probably occur the next time the compactor is dumped (September).


We have had a couple of problems with the compactor this summer. After several years of good service and an extensive rebuild of the entire unit last winter, we were surprised by these problems. In one case a switch broke loose as a result of a sheared fastener. The second problem was a damaged hydraulic hose that appeared to be related to improper installation. For this repair I had to take the hose into Bellingham and get a new one made up. I also had to pick up twenty-gallons of hydraulic oil to replace what had leaked out of the damaged hose. After the hose failed I called the distributor that had performed the work last winter. He was very apologetic and agreed to send a technician to the island to check everything out. The tech replaced all of the high pressure hydraulic hoses with new ones, which included a spiral wound metal armor to avoid chafe. I am encouraged that the distributor is standing behind his work.


Fire Committee

The fire committee has begun to implement their proposal. The fireboxes are equipped and in place at various locations on the upper island. Please make note of the locations of these bright red boxes when you are recreating. The portable, floating, fire pump that Lance donated has been repaired and puts out an impressive stream. This pump will be located in an enclosure at the pump house turn off from the main road. It is recommended that every home and vehicle should be equipped with at least one five-pound fire extinguisher. The best price I have found for good units is at Costco. I have purchased several of these and have them available on Blakely at my Costco price of $20.50 including tax. Please let me know if you would like to purchase one or more of these for your home or vehicle.

House Improvements

The walls and windows have been installed for the new dining room bay-addition. I installed wiring and insulation and sheet rocked the interior. The next step is some demolition in the breezeway and the enclosure of that space. This work will continue after the pipeline extension this fall. In the spirit of water conservation, the Board authorized the installation of a low flow toilet for the main bathroom at our house. I had heard a lot of negative press about low flow toilets with comments like; “it works great if you flush it three times”. I had also heard of folks that have risked prosecution to smuggle the old style toilets in from Canada. I carefully researched the subject and found that low flow toilet technology has come a long way in the last few years. The new toilets are carefully engineered to maximize the flushing effort of the reduced water flow. Every dealer that I spoke with told me that “cheap” low flow toilets were the problem now. The name brands are for the most part equal to or better than their high flow ancestors. We settled on a Kohler model. The cost at Home Depot was only $180 including tax and a new seat. It looks great and seems to do its intended job very well. Since the installation, we have noted a 33% drop in our daily water use.

Facilities Manager Vacation

We have used 6 days of vacation since March 1st. As of August 1st we will have 15.33 days of vacation coming. We will be taking a couple of extra days off next month.

Jim Davis