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$200K Fire Insurance Settlement, Fire Hydrant Geyser, Problems at the Masonite Well Site—Highlights from the Redwood Valley County Water District Board Meeting

The pond at Heart Arrow Ranch in Redwood Valley [Picture from Adam Gaska]

On Thursday, October 19, 2023, the Redwood Valley County Water District Board Meeting met to address issues such as the Masonite test well site, consolidation of the water districts, Russian River Water Forum and the Potter Valley Project, insurance settlement received, and Groundwater Sustainability Agency fees.

Part of the October 19 meeting was closed to the public under Government Code 54956.8, so the Board Members could meet with Janet Pauli, Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, and attorney Scott Shapiro about the PG&E Potter Valley Project negotiations. 

When the session opened back up to the public, General Manager Jared Walker reported that the District is soon to receive a fire insurance claim settlement for a little over $200,000.

The auditor is almost finished with the audit of the District’s books, expected to be wrapped up by next month. The auditor will also clean up the chart of accounts which the Board Members had requested, to make the financial statements easier to read.

As of October, about 600 acre-feet of water has been sold to customers. By the end of the year, the total may reach 700 acre-feet, and more water is available if needed.

A hit-and-run traffic accident on October 9 at Road D and East Road knocked over a drinking water fire hydrant, causing a geyser of water and customer complaints of no water pressure until the repair was made. There were also complaints of cloudy water for about five days afterward. The driver was eventually tracked to a local address by the Sheriff’s Department.

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Director Bree Klotter reported that her neighbors said their ag water smelled like sulfur. Walker replied that this could be because of the recent rains stirring up sediment from the river into Lake Mendocino, the source of Redwood Valley’s ag water.

The Board briefly discussed the October 5 Russian River Water Forum Planning Group meeting. Director Klotter said she hadn’t seen any reports about it. (MendoFever.com has since published a report, available here.) Klotter, who attended the Planning Group meeting, mentioned the presentations by Lake County Supervisors EJ Crandall and Bruno Sabatier, and by the Lake Pillsbury Alliance. The presentations focused on wildlife at Lake Pillsbury, the Lake’s importance to firefighters, the revenue from recreational activities, and the resulting tax revenue to Lake County. 

A few problems were encountered with the new test wells being drilled on Millview property, funded by the Small Community Drought Relief grant project. The first hole had a problem with loose gravel. The well drillers got down to about 210 feet, and then the hole filled up with gravel. To correct this, they over-drilled the hole, inserted a sleeve, and lined it with concrete for stability. So far, they have sealed it to 85 feet. A special type of concrete is needed, and that caused further delay. At 80 feet, they hit a distinct clay layer. To get true groundwater and not river underflow, they need to access the water below the clay layer. After the concrete cures, the county will inspect it. Then the drillers will continue drilling to 200 feet. Director Tom Schoeneman inquired about the grant funding payment status. Walker said that LACO, the District’s consultant for the project, was able to find funding. Director Klotter requested that LACO’s Project Manager be invited to the November meeting to update the Board.

Director Klotter inquired about the status of the legal agreement between Millview and Redwood Valley for the new well. Walker said the legal agreement is almost done, although it got more complicated than anyone anticipated. There are blanks in the agreement for the insertion of gallons per minute numbers that will not be available until the well is completed. The Board discussed the rate of gallons per minute necessary to produce enough water for Redwood Valley. Walker said the minimum would be about 300 gpm, and 600 gpm would be ideal. 

The Millview-owned number six well that supplies water to Redwood Valley will be going offline for maintenance. This is an older well that needs servicing. This well has been producing about 600 gallons per minute. The District has access to water from Lake Mendocino, if needed, while the well is being serviced.

Director Schoeneman inquired about the status of the consolidation of the Upper Russian River Water Agency water districts. Walker said the next working group meeting will be on October 25. Progress is slow because of frequent personnel changes at the State Department of Water Resources. Board President Adam Gaska urged that the water districts continue to move forward with the City of Ukiah taking over service contracts to manage the water districts currently with Willow Water District.

There was a brief discussion about the invoice from MCIWPC for $50,000 that had been tabled for several months pending more information from MCIWPC. The Board has now received more information from MCIWPC and voted to pay $25,000 at this time.

Walker said tree and brush overgrowth removal is necessary at one of the District’s storage tanks on Tomki Road, sitting on an acre of land. The Board voted to pay $8,500 to a contractor for tree and brush removal.

Gaska reported that he attended a workshop on water rate studies hosted by West Yost, administrators of Ukiah Valley’s Groundwater Sustainability Agency. West Yost is proposing a $2 million budget for future management of the GSA. The state wants the agency to perform costly studies on the interaction of surface water and groundwater. The draft calculations indicate that $2 million works out to about $125 per acre of land within the GSA boundaries. Possible sources of funding could be a property tax, or an increased fee for water users. Residents of this rural county don’t have the money to pay for this. Another option is an extraction fee from the well owners, which would require meters to be installed at a cost of about $5,000 per well, in addition to extraction fees. 

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County Supervisor Glenn McGourty is in touch with State Senator Mike McGuire’s office about this matter. Perhaps waiting a couple of years, and then analyzing data could provide the same information at much less cost. The Ukiah Valley GSA Plan has already been approved by the state. Some other groundwater basins have problems that are being adjudicated by the state. The Board will continue to follow the situation.

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


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1 COMMENT

  1. So is the Masonite test well site the Millview property test well site? Curious about the contaminant levels of any well that is drilled on the old Masonite industrial site.

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

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