EID Q&A on Integrated Water Resources Master Plan

By From page A13 | June 21, 2013

A conversation between EID Communications and Community Relations Director Mary Lynn Carlton, Engineering Director Brian Mueller and Engineering Manager Cindy Megerdigian had the three discuss EID’s new Integrated Water Resources Master Plan. 

Q: EID recently completed a very detailed Integrated Water Resources Master Plan (IWRMP) which the Board adopted on March 25. Can you tell me the purpose of that plan and what Board policies govern the planning process?

A: The board is committed to providing a safe and reliable water supply to both existing and future customers.

The board-approved IWRMP is a comprehensive master plan that ensures that the district focuses efforts and limited funds on system improvements that represent the greatest value. It identifies water demand forecasting, infrastructure needs, water supply needs, water recycling strategies, and a basis for the capital improvement program and financial planning. This IWRMP provides a comprehensive program that optimizes the use of potable water and recycled water resources. A Wastewater Facilities Master Plan, which will be developed as a separate report, is also under preparation. Together, these two plans provide a roadmap for development of future infrastructure for the district’s water, wastewater and recycled water systems, responding to increasing demands as approved by the county through the General Plan. 

Q: Was there public involvement in the development of this IWRMP?

A: Yes, there was stakeholder participation provided through three workshops conducted in 2009, 2010 and 2012 to inform and involve stakeholders interested in the project. The workshops included discussion of the project vision, objectives, and key issues, and presented interested parties with an overview of the basis of planning and assumptions. Stakeholders were also invited to provide input on future water supply concepts and the preliminary evaluation of alternatives, all of which were incorporated into the planning process.

Q: Generally, what type and how many alternatives were identified, and what was the top alternative?

A: The initial screening resulted in seven alternatives for further analysis that were formulated around three general approaches for water supply; delivery by gravity from the eastern sources, pumping from Folsom Reservoir, and pumped/gravity combinations. Of the seven, the recommended alternative includes gravity supply from the White Rock penstock with a new water treatment plant located in the middle of the district’s water system, south of Placerville. This alternative also includes the flexibility of an Alder Reservoir option if deemed feasible in the future. 

Q: Why was this alternative more feasible than the others?

A: This alternative offers the lowest total present value; lowest long-term cost per acre-foot of water supply; provides for scalability of future infrastructure, provides future decision flexibility; maximizes availability of water supplies and treatment; and increases dry year supply reliability. Water available at the White Rock penstock is anticipated to be 30,000 acre-feet, increasing to 40,000 acre-feet after 2025. SMUD and the El Dorado Water and Power Authority, which includes EID, negotiated an agreement with SMUD during its relicensing that also provides 15,000 acre-feet of drought storage in the SMUD Upper American River Project.

The Alder Reservoir option would capture water within the watershed and feed a 10-megawatt powerhouse and then return its water to the El Dorado Canal. Alder Reservoir would generate 11,250 acre-feet of new water supply that could be treated at the Reservoir A Water Treatment Plant near Jenkinson Lake or a new water treatment plant.

The most feasible, financially and geographically, new water treatment plant location for the water diverted at White Rock is the Bray Reservoir site near Missouri Flat Road. New treated water would then enter the district’s transmission system near Diamond Springs. Additionally, new water transmission lines to serve Cameron Park and El Dorado Hills will be needed.

Q: What is the estimated cost of the recommended alternative? 

A: Over approximately the next 10 years, capital costs for the projects recommended in the plan are estimated at about $65 million. These costs will be collected through facility capacity charge (FCC) payments.

Q: What is next in the process and when do you think construction would be started on a new water treatment plant?

A: As increased water demands warrant, the projects will be phased over time. Preliminary engineering and design of the various projects included in the IWRMP are planned over the next several years, with expenses of $2 million in 2014 rising to approximately $10 million in 2020. The White Rock diversion, the new water treatment plant, and new transmission lines are not planned for construction until around 2025. However, the timing and scale of these projects will be continually evaluated as demand dictates.

Q: I heard you mention the phrase “future decision flexibility” in an earlier question. Explain more about how this would work.

A: The IWRMP allows the district to continually make decisions to meet new demand through the phasing of new infrastructure. The initial treatment plant will be 5 million–10 million gallons per day (mgd) and expandable to the full buildout demand of 44–58 mgd when the water is eventually needed. The district will update the plan at regular intervals to ensure the timing and size of the planned projects are in alignment with the growth in demand. 

Q: How will the district pay for these facilities?

A: This IWRMP and the Wastewater Facilities Master Plan will feed into an update of the district’s FCCs. As new customers connect to our system, the charges paid by these new hookups will go into a capital reserve fund to pay for expanded facilities identified in the plan. Through this process, the district ensures that new customers pay for their share of the costs to expand the system, not existing customers. It’s a very long-term plan. And the plan is scalable, meaning treatment capacity can be increased over the years and transmission lines can be added later.

Mary Lynn Carlton

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