The recent storm may have brought an estimated 12 inches of rain to the divide, but it did little to allay the concerns of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District (GDPUD) as its board contemplated a response to the ongoing drought.
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Tuesday night’s meeting drew a large crowd as the board listened to what steps the district may have to take if additional rain doesn’t raise the water level in the Stumpy Meadows Reservoir to at least 17,000 acre feet.
Interim General Manager Gary Hoffmann reported that at the end of January, the reservoir stood at 12,094 acre feet, with the weekend storm adding another 1,000. The reservoir has a capacity of 20,000 acre feet.
Hoffmann said state drought conditions are unprecedented with 2013 proving to be the driest year on record, and with drought conditions continuing into this year.
He noted that Gov. Jerry Brown has already declared a drought state of emergency with residents asked to voluntarily cut back water use by 20 percent. Brown’s declaration directed all local water suppliers to implement local water shortage contingency plans. In addition, the State Water Board was asked to put water right holders on notice that they may be directed to cease or reduce their water diversions.
The El Dorado Irrigation District has enacted a stage two drought emergency, said Hoffmann. In addition, the El Dorado Water Agency has convened a drought inter-agency coordination committee which includes EID, GDPUD, Grizzly Flats and the water agency. Subsequently they activated a drought advisory committee that is composed of key stakeholders from different customer sectors. Hoffman said they will be meeting later this month.
Urging the board to take action now was Dave Eggerton, general manager of the El Dorado County Water Agency, who spoke at the meeting. “Being responsive to statewide calls for 20 percent conservation is a good idea,” he said. Eggerton added that the water agency is currently applying for funding for different water conservation projects in the county and being proactive would help in the competition for funds.
As the discussion continued, some people called for the district to immediately move to Stage 2 of its drought plan. However Eggerton and others advised the board to consult with their counsel first.
The board ended deliberations by directing Hoffmann to prepare a resolution addressing the drought. It will be taken up at a future meeting. More public outreach will also be used to inform customers of what to expect if the drought continues.
Cross-connection control program
In other board actions, Hoffman reported that the district’s potable water supply was in danger of contamination from potential or existing cross-connection or back siphonage. A program controlling for the potential hazard is required by the California Code of Regulations.
Hoffmann said such a program requires a system-wide assessment in which each water service is evaluated for potential hazards or risks to the potable system. Regulations require the installation of backflow prevention assemblies, where potential hazards exist, and the annual testing of assemblies by certified testers.
Properties that use an auxiliary water source such as untreated irrigation water or an on site well must have a backflow protection assembly device installed at the water meter. Historically the district has not conducted a system wide hazardous assessment, has not required the installation of backflow prevention assemblies, nor has it required that they be tested, he said.
Director Norm Krizl commented that the district did have such a program but asked if it was not up to standard. Hoffmann said the program was mostly paper in that it existed on paper but very little had been implemented. No system wide hazardous assessment has ever been conducted and there has been no testing of devices that have already been installed by property owners, he added.
In response to a question about who pays for such a program, Hoffmann said typically the assemblies, their installation and testing is the responsibility of property owners and not the district. But Hoffmann noted that 99 percent of residential owners would not be affected. Instead the program mostly affects those using treated irrigation water and commercial businesses.
Hoffman proposed including the cost for the program and assessment in next year’s budget.
The board also approved GDPUD’s participation in a Water Energy/Nexus study to evaluate water losses from water meters in the district’s water system. The study is being funded by PG&E. The program will provide funding for 17 water meters to be installed as well as field testing and data analysis, billing records searches and preparation of a final report. The district’s contribution to the study will be the labor to install the new meters and assisting the consultant with the records searches. The district will keep the meters once the study is completed. Installation of the meters and initiation of the study is tentatively scheduled for March 2014.
It was reported that the board is in the process of selecting an executive recruitment firm to search for a permanent general manager. It previously conducted interviews with three firms and additional firms may be interviewed. The board also approved going out to bid for an auditor and CPA.
In a final item, the board reviewed some of the accomplishments of the last year including changes to the plans for the Auburn Lake Trails Water Treatment Plant, reduction in office staff and the start of a new meter reading system and online billing and bill payment system.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.