West Sound

West Sound Water Association (WSWA) is a membership-owned water utility serving a community of 38 members in the southwest portion of Orcas Island in San Juan County, Washington. Established in 1988, our association serves a number of full- and part-time residents as well as the Kingfish InnWest Sound MarinaSeaDoc Society, and Orcas Island Yacht Club. Use this site to learn more about our association—members, real estate professionals and the community are encouraged to contact us with any questions or concerns.

System connections and operation

What are the system requirements for connection to the water system?

Any member anticipating connection to the water system should contact WSWA. Our water system operator will assist with your planning process and can explain our current requirements in detail.

Each connection requires an approved water meter, which is supplied by WSWA at the member’s expense when the member first connects to the WSWA system. A pressure-reducing valve (PRV) is highly recommended between the meter and a member’s distribution line(s) to protect against the high pressures in the WSWA supply lines. A backflow assembly device may also be required in some instances (per Washington State regulations), such as when a well or catchment system is also in operation on the property.

The WSWA system operator must inspect new installations and any subsequent changes to the system before covering and with all installed components visible.

Note that after meters have been in use for a while, they can eventually lose accuracy or fail.  WSWA has a meter replacement program designed to identify and replace aging meters and replacement is done at the association’s expense.

How is West Sound Water Association governed?

As a non-profit membership association, ultimate governance authority derives from the membership (currently 38 members). When WSWA was founded in 1988, members adopted Articles of Incorporation, which delegate authority to the Board of Directors, and association bylaws. At each Annual Meeting of Members, held the first Monday evening in October of each year, directors are elected by the members to staggered three-year terms. The Articles and Bylaws can be amended from time to time, and Board resolutions have the same effect as Bylaws. The Board of Directors meets monthly, and minutes are circulated to members. Board meetings are generally open to members, although sensitive topics are covered in Executive Session. Any member who wishes to address the board should contact the President to schedule a mutually convenient time.

While much of the activity of the Association is performed on a volunteer basis by the Board, the Association has retained a Water System Manager licensed by the state to ensure competent operation of the system. The manager reports to the Board and his main Board contact is President Tom Baldwin.

What are the rights and responsibilities of membership?

WSWA was organized to serve specific parcels; the owner of each parcel has a membership in the association. When a parcel is sold, the membership is normally transferred to the new owner, who inherits the rights and responsibilities of membership, including any fees or charges owed to the Association by the prior owner.

Each member has the right to attend all WSWA membership meetings, or to be represented by proxy; the right to vote in any membership vote (including election of Directors); and all rights of members as set forth in the Articles and Bylaws or as established by the Board. In addition, members are encouraged to participate actively in WSWA discussions and to volunteer ideas for improvement of the organization and its water system.

Each member is also responsible for following all rules and regulations established by the Articles, Bylaws, and Board Resolutions and for payment of all fees and assessments when due. For example, one of our regulations is a 450 gallon per day per membership limitation on water use. Note that this maximum allowable usage is not a guarantee.

How does the West Sound system provide water to members?

Our well field consists of several dug wells located in Crow Valley. Water is pumped directly from the wells up to two 35,000-gallon storage tanks located on Turtleback Mountain. Water from the tanks is chlorinated—to meet or exceed applicable Washington State water quality standards—and then directed into gravity-fed distribution lines back down the mountain. Two pressure-reducing valves (PRVs) installed in the downhill system help protect against excessive pressures in distribution lines, with the highest pressures generally being experienced at the lowest points in the system below each PRV. Each member is connected to the closest distribution line through a main shutoff valve and a water meter that measures actual usage. Because system PRVs can fail, WSWA recommends that every member have a PRV installed at or near their meter.

What precautions does WSWA take to ensure safe drinking water?

Our water system is regulated by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) through its Small Water System Management Program. Water quality standards for public water systems are established by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Our association is required by law to meet or exceed the water quality standards established at federal and state levels.

Our association monitors drinking water throughout the system regularly and performs state-mandated water quality sampling. This includes testing for nearly 200 contaminants, including lead and copper. Chlorine is added to our water to prevent diseases such as cholera, giardiasis, and salmonellosis. Treatment also destroys Cryptosporidium parvum, a disease-causing organism found in the natural environment.

Each year, the DOH sends a water quality report to the association, which includes any additional requirements based on our specific water sample tests. Download our current Consumer Confidence Report and associated lab test.when the 

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