Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Search for a New Well, Outstanding Loan from the Bureau of Reclaimation—Highlights from the Redwood Valley Water District Meeting

A map of the potential site of a new well for Redwood Valley [Map from LACO’s Geophysical Investigation document]

The RVCWD Board met on February 16, 2023 at 6:00 pm at the District Office, 151 Laws Avenue, Ukiah, with a Zoom option available. The following Directors were present: Board President Tom Schoeneman, Ken Todd, Adam Gaska, and Cassie Taaning, Office Manager Liz Patton, and Admin Assistant Ashtyn Davis. Bree Klotter and Keith Tiemann, applicants for the vacant board seat, were also in attendance. General Manager Jared Walker was absent.

Closed Session with Counsel 

The first hour of the meeting was a closed session with the District’s legal counsel to discuss anticipated litigation, according to the meeting agenda. 

Update on Small Community Drought Relief Grant Project

LACO Associates of Ukiah has been working with the District on the Small Community Drought Relief Project. Jordan Blough and Christine Manhart of LACO spoke about their efforts to find a secure water source for Redwood Valley. The Board Members were given copies of the Geophysical Report prepared by Norcal Geophysical Consultants Inc. on the survey performed in Redwood Valley to determine whether there is sufficient groundwater to support a municipal well. Manhart, a geophysicist, discussed the data gathered by Norcal and also by the helicopter carrying the aero electro-magnetic measuring device that flew over Redwood Valley last Summer. It looks like there are a few sites in Redwood Valley that could possibly produce up to 150 gallons per minute, but this is not a sufficient amount to support a municipal well. “Finding a well in Redwood Valley that gives enough for municipal use is equivalent to winning the Power Ball Lottery,” she said. 

Discussion followed regarding the monitoring wells on the school property (too close to the Russian River); an older well across from Little Baker’s Market (not productive); a former well on Bell Arbres once used by approximately 70 customers in a quasi-municipal district (that well could not meet today’s state water standards); the groundwater on the Coyote Valley Reservation (the tribe is using this water, likely not sufficient for additional users). Blough concluded, “We’ve turned over every stone we could to locate water in Redwood Valley.”

The data shows that the best source for a well would be on the Millview County Water District property south of The Forks, near the Masonite site. There is a contaminant plume on a different part of the Masonite property. A new well, located away from the plume, would have to be tested to ensure that once pumping begins, it doesn’t intercept the plume. Theoretically, a test well could be drilled in two to three months, depending on availability of a driller. Manhart added that part of the grant is for water distribution.

After discussion and vote, the Board agreed to have LACO proceed with planning a test well on the Millview property.

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General Manager’s Report

General Manager Jared Walker provided these notes in his absence, read by Ashtyn Davis at the meeting:

Last week staff met with Performance Pump and Mendoza Electric at the Lake Mendocino Pump Station to begin a plan to install the two new Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) as well as remove and clean up what will be redundant plumbing once the VFDs are installed. No date has been scheduled for the installation, but we are planning on this being a Spring project and there is still some funding left from the grant to help with the expenses of the installation. 

Drought and Water Supply Updates

Lake Mendocino storage levels got as high as roughly 95,000 acre-feet in January, since then there was a series of releases to get the storage back down to roughly 80,000 acre-feet which are currently where it is at. With the FIRO method still being utilized, I believe the lake will stay at this level as long as streamflows continue to meet the requirements. (Note: Later in the meeting Board President Schoeneman reported that he had attended the presentation by a representative from Sonoma Water at the Russian River Flood Control board meeting, and is hopeful that the water level can be maintained, rather than being released. Here is an explanation of the FIRO Method).

2023 RVCWD water use projections have been sent to the Russian River Flood Control District for their review. The projections that were sent were based upon the 2019 actual water pumped which was just under 900-acre feet for the year. It is uncertain at this time if RRFCD will have surplus water available for RVCWD, but at this time we are able to pump. I anticipate we will know more in the coming months as we move into the Spring. 

Report on Upper Russian River Water Agency and Consolidation Efforts:

The Working Group (City Staff, myself, and legal counsel from Districts) have met almost weekly for a minimum of one hour for the past two months. District Legal Counsel (Paul Minasian) as well as the other counsels have generated a product that we believe can get us to an acceptable level that the State will allow us to move forward with consolidation. This group has worked tirelessly to get us where we are today and I would like to express how valuable Paul has been in this group with his experiences as District Counsel for all of these years. The Ad Hoc Committee met a few weeks back and was given updates from the Working Group. At the end of the meeting, the staff was given direction to begin the application process to SAFER for funding. The Ad Hoc will meet again at the end of this month

2023 Willow CWD Master Service Agreement Exhibit B – Statement of Fees and Charges

Redwood Valley CWD will receive a cost reduction of roughly $6,000 per month. Willow’s Master Service Agreements and the fees associated with them work a year in the rears. There was an increase in 2022 to cover the additional hours spent on the Water Infrastructure Retrofit Project, the reduction for 2023 is based on those hours being reduced.

Director Adam Gaska asked if it would be possible to track labor costs monthly.

Outstanding Loan from the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation

The Board agreed that upon the advice of counsel, the District would send a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation in regards to the outstanding loan.

The next meeting is scheduled for March 16, 2023 at 5:00 pm.

Photo of Masonite site for possible new well from the Norcal Geophysical Report. Permission to use given by LACO and Redwood Valley County Water District.

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

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