Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Great Consolidation Approved, Contamination Plume at the Masonite Well Site, Digital Mapping Proposed—A Rundown of the Redwood Valley County Water District Board Meeting

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

The RVCWD Board of Directors met on December 15, 2022 at 5:00 pm at the District Office, 151 Laws Avenue, Ukiah, with a Zoom option available. The following directors were present: Tom Schoeneman, Ken Todd, Adam Gaska, newly-elected director Cassie Taaning, along with General Manager Jared Walker and Admin Assistant Chelsea Teague. Outgoing director Bree Klotter joined via Zoom.

New Board Members Sworn-In

Cassie Taaning (elected in November) and Ken Todd (re-elected), were sworn in as Directors by Chelsea Teague.

One of the candidates previously appointed to a Board vacancy by the County turned out to be ineligible due to living outside the District boundary. The current boundary maps are old and do not show street names, which may have caused confusion. The candidate never joined the Board. The vacancy for this Board seat will be posted on the website for 15 days. Interested candidates are welcome to contact the District. The Board will review the candidates’ qualifications and interview candidates. The new director will be appointed at the January Board meeting. They will wait to elect the Board President until after the vacant seat is filled.

Water Supply Update

The Board discussed the possible purchase of 48 acre-feet of water from Flood Control in January. John Rearden, Trustee of The Russian River Flood Control District, was present for the discussion. Ag customers are encouraged to fill their ponds when water is available. The Board suggested that Flood Control query their contract holders about water needs, so that water that is not needed by contract holders can be offered to Redwood Valley. The District is hoping to keep the ag connections on, as shutting them off and then turning them back on is labor-intensive for the staff and the customers.

Consolidation of Upper Russian River Water Agency Districts is Moving Forward

GM Jared Walker reported that he attended weekly ad hoc meetings with City of Ukiah Staff and attorneys on the consolidation of the URRWA water districts and the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District with the City of Ukiah. The working group wanted to engage the services of Best Best and Krieger, a law firm specializing in municipal water issues, but the firm was conflicted out as they already represent the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District. On January 10, 2023, there will be a regular meeting with the full group, and after that, we will have a better idea of what consolidation will look like. Funds for consolidation are still available from the State Water Resources Control Board.

Small Community Drought Relief Grant Project

LACO hydrogeologist Kelsey McLaughlin reported on the search for groundwater in Redwood Valley. It appears that there are no good sites for a municipal well in Redwood Valley. The Masonite property, which already has a well supplying the Millview District, is being considered as the source of a municipal well to supply Redwood Valley. There is some concern about an underground contamination plume. The plume is on the southeast area of the property and the proposed well would be on the north section. LACO is waiting for a final report on this. The new well would be funded by the SAFER Program.

The District also asked for funds from SAFER to upgrade the water treatment plant. State representatives told LACO that this project wasn’t eligible for grant funds. LACO provided more information asking them to reconsider and is cautiously optimistic. There is still no data to report on the monitoring wells on School Way, nor on the helicopter with the airborne electromagnetic device to measure groundwater that was seen flying over Redwood Valley last summer.

LACO proposed a project to computerize the maps of water lines and other equipment in the District, to replace the paper maps currently in use. Taaning requested that the District boundary map with street names be included in the upgrade. A computerized system that could be used by employees in the field as an app on their phones would be a huge improvement. The District would have to spend approximately $5,000 on this project. The Board voted to approve going forward with the computerized mapping system.

Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency

The Board continued the discussion from last month of the invoice sent to URRWA for dues for fiscal year 2022-2023 in the amount of $68,750 from West Yost Associates, the General Manager of the UVBGSA. This amount is intended to be split on a pro-rated basis based on the number of service connections, among the Millview, Redwood Valley, Willow, and Calpella Water Districts, with Redwood Valley’s portion being $21,240. The Board voted to approve the payment of the invoice. There was a discussion acknowledging the critical importance of not depleting the Ukiah Groundwater Basin. If we can show that the groundwater basin is being recharged year to year, it should result in less monitoring from the State.

Response to the Grand Jury Report

One of the recommendations from the Grand Jury was that the District contact the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation regarding repayment of the $7.7 million outstanding loan. Representatives from Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office and State Senator Mike McGuire’s office informed the District that it should proceed with consolidation efforts in spite of the outstanding debt. Legal counsel will be invited to the January Board Meeting to advise on this. The Board will wait on further communication with the Bureau of Reclamation until they have discussed this with counsel.

Next Meeting

January 19, 2023 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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