Frequently Asked Questions
General Inquiries and Water Emergencies
Question: Whom should I contact if I have questions about my account, need additional information or have a water emergency?
Answer: Please call the business office at (425) 222-7003. We will be glad to assist you with questions about your account or other information. If you have a water emergency during or after normal business hours, you will be referred to our on-call Water Operator who can assist you.
Business Office Location
Question: Where is the Association's business office located?
Answer: The business office located next door to Mercury's Coffee on Highway 202 in downtown Fall City across the street from the King County Public Library. The street address is:
Redmond-Fall City Road, Suite 120
Correspondence and Payment Addresses
Question: How can I reach the ALWA by mail?
Answer: Please use one of the following addresses to send mail to the Association. Correspondence should be sent to our office in Fall City. Payments should be sent to our P.O. Box in Seattle.
Automatic Debit (ACH) Program
Question: Does Ames Lake Water Association have an automatic payment program for paying my bill (i.e., ACH debit which also commonly known as Electronic Funds Transfer or EFT)?
Answer: Yes. With this program, you can electronically debit your water bill from your bank account and view or download a copy of your billing statement in PDF format. For details, please click here.
One-time Electronic Payments
Question: If I don’t want to sign up for the automatic payment program, can I make a one-time electronic payment instead?
Answer: Yes. For details, please click here.
Online Bill Payments
Question: Can I use online banking to pay my water bill?
Answer: Yes. Many banks and credit unions offer online bill payment as a service to their customers. Simply add Ames Lake Water Association as a payee and be sure to include your four-digit Service ID Number when you set up the payee information. Our payment address is:
AMES LAKE WATER ASSOCIATION
Payment Drop Box
Question: Does Ames Lake Water Association have a payment drop box at its office in Fall City?
Answer: Yes. There is a locked drop box outside the business office in Fall City. It is painted black, labeled "drop box" and located at the southwest end of the parking lot next to the first parking space closest to the road. For security reasons, please do NOT put any cash payments in the drop box.
Credit Cards and Debit Cards
Question: Can I pay my bill over the phone with a credit card or debit card?
Answer: No. Currently, the Association does not accept credit cards or debit cards as payment for water bills. As an alternative, please consider signing up for automatic monthly direct debit or using your bank or credit union's online bill payment service.
Question: Can I pay my bill in cash at the ALWA business office in Fall City?
Answer: No. For security reasons, the Ames Lake Water Association discontinued accepting cash payments in its business office effective 06/01/2012. To make a payment, please send a check or money order to our payment address. Alternatively, you may want to consider using your bank or credit union’s online bill payment service to mail a check to our payment address or signing up for our monthly automatic payment program. For details on how to sign up for recurring, monthly ACH payments, please click here.
Map of the ALWA Service Area and Aerial View
Question: Where can I get a map of the Ames Lake Water Association service area?
Water Rates, Fees and General Facilities Charge
Question: Where can I get more information about ALWA water rates and fees?
Answer: Click here to obtain a copy of our fee schedule and for information about our general facilities charge.
Help Understanding Your Bill
Question: Can you help me to better understand my bill? What are the amortization, depreciation and base fees for?
Answer: There are four basic components on your water bill:
1. Water – This is the cost of the water that you consume during a billing period. The Association’s rates cover the cost of producing water in the first two tiers shown on the current fee schedule and promote conservation in tiers three and above. The water usage fee by itself does not cover all of the ALWA’s expenses like office overhead expense, amortization or depreciation.
2. Base – The base fee covers the ALWA’s basic office overhead expenses (i.e., payroll, benefits, rent on the ALWA’s office, the electric bill for the main office, etc.).
3. Amortization – Amortization covers the cost of paying back loans used to expand the water system infrastructure (i.e., wells, pumps, pipes, etc.). The ALWA has obtained a number of loans over the years to accommodate housing growth and new Members in our service area. The Association must pay off existing loans in order to obtain new loans necessary for further growth in our service area in the coming years.
4. Depreciation – Depreciation covers wear and tear on fixed assets including wells, pumps, pipes, etc. (basically all of the hardware infrastructure used for getting water out of the ground and to a Member’s property). As the components of the water system wear out over their useful lifespan, the ALWA must replace them.
For other charges that may appear on your bill, please refer to the current fee schedule.
Who Regulates the Association?
Question: Does the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission regulate the Ames Lake Water Association?
Answer: No. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) does not regulate the Association. For more information on whom the UTC regulates, see Section 480-110-255 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC). The Board of Directors is responsible for governance of the Association within the framework of laws and regulations covering non-profit organizations, public water systems and water rights granted by the State of Washington. For more information, see WAC Chapter 246-290.
Where Can I Get a Copy of the Association’s By-Laws and Rules and Regulations?
Question: Where can I get a copy of the Association’s By-Laws and Rules and Regulations?
Who Audits the Association?
Question: Does the Association hire a Certified Public Accounting firm to audit its books?
Answer: Yes. Each year, the Board of Directors appoints an independent Certified Public Accounting firm to audit the Association’s books. Representatives from the independent audit firm attend the Association’s annual meeting to discuss the audit report and answer questions from the floor. Click here to review our annual audit reports.
Question: As a Member of the Association, do I have any specific "water rights" associated with my Membership?
Answer: No. Individual Members do not have any water rights per se. The Washington Department of Ecology determines the water rights attributed to the Ames Lake Water Association as a whole. The amount of water rights is fixed by the Department, and it is unlikely that the Association will be able to obtain any additional water rights in the future. It is up to the Association to determine how best to use its water rights on behalf of all its Members.
Question: What is a cross connection, and why should I be concerned about it?
Answer: A cross connection is defined as any actual or potential physical connection between a public water system or the consumer's water system and any source of non-potable liquid, solid, or gas that could contaminate the potable water supply by backflow.
Types of cross connections include, but are not limited to:
Drinking water systems may become polluted or contaminated in the distribution system through uncontrolled cross connections. If you have a cross connection, Ames Lake Water Association requires that you have it inspected and tested annually in accordance with Washington Administrative Code (WAC), Chapter 246-290-490.
Question: Who regulates the quality of our water?
Answer: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington Department of Health regulate water quality in our state. Please see the following documents for more information:
Question: Does Ames Lake Water Association participate in the "WashWise" rebate program (http://washwiserebate.com)?
Answer: No. Currently, the Association does not participate in this program. Also, please note that WashWise officially ended on 12/31/2012.
Question: Does Ames Lake Water Association add fluoride to its water?
Answer: No. Currently, the Association does not add fluoride to its water.
Water Leak Detection
Question: How do I know whether I have a water leak in my home?
Answer: You can monitor your water use by reading your meter. Almost all water meters have a built-in low-flow indicator or leak detector.
If you look at your meter, there will be a small star-shaped wheel on the face. This little wheel turns when there is water flowing--- even a very small amount.
To perform your own test for leaks, turn off all of the following:
If the star-shaped wheel is moving slightly, you may have a leak.
Next, you can narrow down where the leak is by turning individual valves on and off. For example, if you turn off a valve to an outdoor irrigation system and the low-flow indicator stops, then you know the leak is downstream from that particular valve.
Toilets are often a source of water leaks in the home. An easy way to check whether your toilet is leaking is to place some food coloring in the tank when it is full. Then wait a minute or two and check whether you begin to see colored water in the bowl. If so, then there may be a problem with the toilet.
Once you find the possible source of the leak, you will have to decide whether you can repair it yourself or need to call a professional for further assistance.
A leaky toilet may waste up to 200 gallons per day. That's approximately 73,000 gallons per year.
Finally, consider the following example. You have a single, leaky faucet in your home. It drips 20 times per minute. That's 28,800 drips per day (i.e., 20 drips/minute x 60 minutes/hour x 24 hours/day). In one year, you will lose approximately 925 gallons of water from this one faucet.
Estimated Average Water Usage in the Home
Question: How much water do I use on average when taking a shower, flushing a toilet, doing laundry or washing the dishes?
Answer: According to the King County Water Conservation Program, consumers use the following amounts of water on average in the home:
© 2012 Ames Lake
Water Association (ALWA). All rights reserved.
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Ames Lake Water Association (ALWA) is an Equal Opportunity Provider.