Redwood Valley County Water District Board Meeting took place on Thursday, September 21, 2023 covering topics that ranged from the Water Treatment Plant, the Masonite test well site, consolidation of the water districts, Russian River Water Forum and the Potter Valley Project, and road repair at Lake Mendocino Pump Station.
Every month, there is an agenda item to review and approve the District’s financial statements. Directors Cassie Taaning and Bree Klotter reminded staff that they had both asked in prior meetings if it was possible to reformat the financial statements in a way that the invoices received and checks written could be more easily matched. The style of the printed financial reports was attributed in part to accounting software and bookkeeping methods. The District’s auditor has been working on the books and has requested a meeting with the Board. The current bookkeeper will be retiring soon, and this will be a good opportunity to review accounting practices. This will be added to the agenda for the next meeting.
Director Klotter asked General Manager Jared Walker if the PG&E bills will go down when the new solar equipment is installed at the water treatment plant. Walker replied that it has not yet been scheduled by Energia, the solar vendor, and he will follow up. Walker said “The water treatment plant is still running really well. Everything is in great shape. The plant itself and production of water is as good as I’ve seen it under our watch.”
Walker reported that VFD drives have been purchased for the pumping station at Lake Mendocino. They pumping station is not accessible by the crane and boom truck needed to install the equipment, because the road was flooded last winter and remained underwater for months. When the water receded, there was a lot of damage to the road. The original contract between the Army Corps of Engineers and the District will have to be reviewed to see who is responsible for road maintenance. The road will probably be back under water by December. This may need a special Board meeting in October. Director Klotter wanted to know how long the access road is, and whether the District is responsible for all or part of the maintenance. Walker replied that the road is at least a half a mile long, but only a part of it needs repair, which could cost approximately $50,000. It probably won’t get repaired this year. Tree work is also needed to clear the road.
Walker than gave an update on the planned new well to provide water for Redwood Valley on the Millview property. The well drillers are scheduled for Monday, September 25, at 8:30 am. The legal agreement between Millview and Redwood Valley is not yet finalized, but the attorneys had only minor corrections. Copies will be sent to the Board members for review. LACO will also be on site with the well drillers. They expect it to take two weeks total, and hope to find some water. Director Klotter wanted to know whether the state has reimbursed any of the money for this project.
Walker said there had been a typo in the water supply update list distributed to the Board. It should show 90 acre-feet listed under August 2023 Irrigation, not 9 acre-feet. Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation District has 1,123 acre-feet available to Redwood Valley, plus 150 acre-feet are offered from Millview. There is water available for anyone who wants to irrigate.
In October, Millview’s well number six on the Masonite site (built in the 1970s) will be shut down for maintenance and rehab. The well will be inspected using a camera. The District will have enough water while the well is down for maintenance because of the water available from Flood Control.
There has been little activity on the consolidation efforts of the Districts in the Upper Russian River Water Agency with the City of Ukiah, the Small Community Drought Relief grant project run by California’s SAFER program. The proposed draft document was submitted to the State from the water districts that make up the Joint Powers Authority (JPA). The SAFER representatives’ comments to the draft document were mostly concerns about the commitment level of the JPA entities, and the clauses allowing for withdrawal. California wants firm commitment. They don’t want to issue $60 million, and then have an agency withdraw. This type of consolidation has never been done before, with four districts consolidating with a city. Turnover of personnel handling this at SAFER is causing delays. The State wants a full consolidation done by the year 2025, the deadline to commit to the project. Walker said that although the process is difficult, “I’m confident. It’s the first time that consolidation has ever happened, and in one of the most scrutinized watersheds in the state, if not the country.”
The Board then discussed the $50,000 invoice from the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission that has been tabled for the past two months. IWPC sent invoices to the entities that make up the IWPC to help fund the efforts to negotiate with PG&E on the Potter Valley Project. Directors Tom Schoeneman and Cassie Taaning reported that they had attended a closed-session meeting last week. Russian River Flood Control’s Board voted to be a direct participant with IWPC in the negotiations with PG&E. There will be a special closed session meeting to work this out. Taaning is going to step away from being Redwood Valley’s representative at IWPC due to other commitments. Director Bree Klotter will take her place. Prior to approving the invoice for payment, the District has asked IWPC for a breakdown of how the money will be used. Redwood Valley is said to get only 2% to 3% of the water coming through Potter Valley. Upon verification of this percentage, the Board would like to possibly have the $50,000 invoice reduced to reflect that. The invoice will be tabled for another month.
The Russian River Water Forum cancelled the September Planning Group meeting. The Russian River Resilience subcommittee meeting is set for September 26, open to the public via Zoom, registration is at this link.
The Ukiah Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency sent an invoice for $68,750 to the Upper Russian River Water Agency (URRWA) for annual dues for management of the UVGSA by West Yost and Associates.
Redwood Valley’s share is $21,240. The groundwater plan submitted by the UVGSA to the State was approved as submitted. This is good news, as there were no changes requested by the State, meaning they accepted Ukiah’s plan that says we are not overdrafting the Ukiah Valley groundwater aquifer, and that the acquifer is being recharged. There may eventually be a ballot measure to collect taxes because of all the expensive monitoring required by the UVGSA. If the UVGSA doesn’t get this right, the State will step in and adjudicate groundwater use, and send a bill. The UVGSA is made up of the City of Ukiah, the County of Mendocino, URRWA, and Willow Water District, plus tribal and agriculture representatives.
The next meeting is scheduled for October 19, 2023 at 5:00 pm.