Friday, December 9, 2022

Ag Water, Consolidation, a Financial Audit—Highlights of the Redwood Valley County Water District Board Meeting

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A waterway in Redwood Valley[Photo by afletch4141 via their Flickr account]

The RVCWD Board of Directors met on September 15, 2022 at 5:00 pm at the District Office, 151 Laws Avenue, Ukiah, with a Zoom option available. All of the current directors were present: Ken Todd, Tom Schoeneman, Bree Klotter and Adam Gaska, along with General Manager Jared Walker and Office Manager Liz Patton. 

Most of the Meeting Took Place in Closed Session

The following agenda items were discussed by the Board with legal counsel in closed session. 

  1. Stipulated Judgment Between Russian River Flood Control RVCWD.
  2. State Water Resource Control Board (Cease and Desist Order 262.16).
  3. Monies owed to the Department of the Interior.
  4. Whether RVCWD service connection amounts are from are from sources where valid, available, and quantifiable sources of water under California’s water rights systems exist.

There was no information provided to the public about the above items. Working toward a response to the Grand Jury Report was also discussed, according to General Manager Jared Walker.

Ag Water Customers

Only a small amount of ag water customers have declined the offer to have their water turned back on. Most customers want water for fire protection even if they aren’t using it for a vineyard. Some customers have leaking ponds and are hesitant to fill them, and are using the ag water for drip or overhead irrigation. Approximately 25 customers responded to the survey sent last month.

Consolidation with Other Water Districts

Jared Walker reported on his meetings with Sean White, City of Ukiah Director of Water and Sewer, and Sage Sangiacomo, Ukiah City Manager, working to document the consolidation. On September 27, there will be an ad hoc meeting with the intention of having a working draft document. All parties are working in good faith and making progress. Water representatives from the state indicated the local group is on the right path. The $7 million debt to the Bureau of Reclamation will stay with the RVCWD, which will continue as a separate entity after the consolidation. 

Among the issues to be decided: structure and governance of the consolidated entity; employee matters; possible cross-training and resource sharing. The City of Ukiah will most likely be heavily involved. It is anticipated that a representative of each water district will be on the board of the consolidated entity. The name Ukiah Valley Water is being used as a placeholder name until the entity is formed. After consolidation, the individual districts may move to quarterly instead of monthly meetings.

Will rates go up after the consolidation? Willow County Water District has historically had among the lowest rates in California. At this time, there is no guarantee rates will stay the same.

There is a large amount of groundwater under Ukiah, which after consolidation will be monitored by the state. In the future, we need to use water thoughtfully and responsibly.

Discussion Regarding Repowering the Redwood Valley Water Treatment Plant Solar Plant by Energea

Following up on Energea’s proposal to replace the solar power equipment at the Redwood Valley Water Treatment Plant, Jared Walker reported that there are no new updates at this time. He has received the proposed new contract, but has not yet received the Notice of Transfer from the prior solar company. Energy savings will depend on usage. There was a question of whether it was cheaper to continue getting water from Millview rather than powering up the treatment plant to capacity. If engaged, Energea will dispose of all old equipment. A CEQA notice of exemption is being filed for this project.

Audit

Jared Walker and Liz Patton reported that they have been working with the auditor. The audit may be completed by the end of October. The auditor has questions about missing documentation for the $7 million loan from the Bureau of Reclamation.

Election of LAFCO Special District Member

RVWCD is eligible to vote on the election of the Mendocino Local Area Formation Commission Special District Member. The board discussed the two candidates on the ballot, Francois Christen and Candace Horsley. The board unanimously chose Candace Horsley for the position.

Next Meeting: October 20, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. The Board meets every third Thursday of the month.

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Monica Huettl
Monica Huettl
Mendocino County Resident, Annoying Horse Girl.

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