IVGID GM’s corner: Incline’s population goes with the flow | SierraSun.com

IVGID GM’s corner: Incline’s population goes with the flow

Steve Pinkerton

Ever wonder how many residents and guests are residing in Incline Village/Crystal Bay on a given day?

Once every 10 years, the Census Bureau determines how many people live in our community. In a town with a lot of seasonal residents, that can be a little tricky.

There are many people who live here seasonally, some more than half of the year, some less than half of the year, with others living in multiple locations throughout the year.

Since the U.S. Census has to designate a permanent residence for every person, a person with multiple residents is assigned to the community where they live the most weeks during the year.

In 2010, Incline Village/Crystal Bay had a population of 8,930 residents. In 2000, we had 9,601 residents. Those 8,930 residents lived in 3,849 housing units. We had another 3,933 units that were either used seasonally or vacant.

I am often asked: how many people are living in our seasonal units and how many of our permanent residents live here year round? As the purveyor of water and sewer for the community, we are in a good position to try and answer that question.

In the winter, water consumption is a pretty good way of trying to gauge population on a monthly basis. Since most water consumption in the winter is for indoor use, we can use an industry standard for per capita water consumption and figure out how many people were living here that month.

For the summertime and shoulder season, wastewater flow is a better way to figure out our population. Wastewater flow is estimated at 115 gallons per day per capita — taking into account some commercial flow as well.

We processed about 800,000 gallons per day in February and March of this year, which works out to a little less than 7,000 residents on a daily basis.

In July, we processed about 1.3 million gallons per day (gpd for short), so there were about 11,000 residents and guests per day. In August, we processed about 10 percent less than in July, so we averaged about 10,000 residents and guests per day in August.

The rest of this year has ranged from about 800,000 gpd January-April and October and November, 1 million gpd in June, and 900,000 gpd in May.

How does this year’s flow compare to previous years? We are on track to be equal or a little bit less than last year.

However, in looking at our historical flows, we are back to 1978 levels. Our peak year for sewer flow was 1997, when we averaged 1.56 millions gpd.

Last year our average daily flow was 915,000 gpd. Ten years ago we averaged 1.27 million gpd, five years ago it was 1.08 million gpd.

It is unlikely that the drop in flow is all due to a drop in daily population. Part of the reduction can also be attributed to low flow fixtures being put in new and remodeled homes.

While it deserves further analysis, given the static nature of our housing stock, I would be comfortable concluding that the vast majority of the decline over the past 15 years is due to a declining daily population.

The census data backs up the decline, as do our voter registration records and our traffic counts. We have average daily traffic count data going back to 1997, which was also our peak year for sewer flow.

The bottom line is that a reduction in daily consumption from 1.56 million gpd to 915,000 gpd equates to a 41 percent drop in daily consumption.

Even if you assume that new household fixtures account for 10 percent of the 40 percent drop — that still leaves us at a 30 percent drop in daily residents and guests.

What does all of this mean? It demonstrates that our community is now more seasonal. It also reinforces the notion that many of our permanent residents are spending more time elsewhere during the shoulder season.

It certainly helps to explain why we have a lot of turnover in our business community — particularly restaurants, as they have a harder time handling seasonal variations in business.

It doesn’t help us to explain why our beach attendance is higher than 15 years ago. We will address that subject another time since I only get 750 words per column!

What do you think this all means? I’d like to hear your observations as well. Please feel free to email me your thoughts at sjp@ivgid.org.

“GM’s Corner” is a twice-monthly column from Incline Village General Improvement Distinct General Manager Steve Pinkerton, who will discuss issues and offer updates regarding various district matters.