Idyllwild Water to consider rate increase in June

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Idyllwild Water District directors will review a preliminary fiscal year 2014-15 budget in June. A rate increase will be part of the budget package, partly needed to pay for raised costs, such as electricity, which will increase 10 percent.

The next regular meeting has been advanced to Wednesday, June 11, to ensure the full board will be available for the review.

In advance of the proposed budget presentation, General Manager Tom Lynch said, “We’re taking a close look at critical capital improvements.” He had previously shared his observations of deterioration in parts of the district’s water and sewer lines. Portions of the distribution system are 40 to 50 years old. Consequently, he may use some consultants to evaluate IWD’s infrastructure. “Where possible, large projects will be proposed to occur incrementally over time to help avoid cost impacts all at once,” he added.

This is the final year of the district’s five-year, annual 6-percent rate increase, originally approved in June 2010.

Through the end of April, both IWD’s water and sewer funds had net possible income. The water program net income for this year is about $185,000 and the sewer fund has generated about $14,000. In April, the sewer fund income was augmented with a $23,000 payment from Idyllwild Arts Academy for its recently approved “will serve” letters.

IWD, currently in a Stage 2 water emergency, saw water sales drop below the April projections, reported Chief Finance Officer Hosny Shouman. Water usage was nearly 280,000 gallons (5 percent) less than the projection.

For the month of April, total production was 6.5 million gallons, 430,000 gallons less than the April 2013 production. For the first four months of 2014, IWD’s production has been 25 percent less than the same period last year. However, it is about 6 and 10 percent more than 2011 and 2012, respectively.

For the 10 months since the fiscal year began July 2013, IWD production has fallen about 6.5 percent, from 74.3 million gallons to 69.5 million.

With respect to water resources, Lynch said, “The most telling figures are the creek flows, decreasing considerably from past years.”

Lynch reported only 7.5 gallons per minute at the Village Center Drive bridge and virtually no flow in the creek above the bridge.

Foster Lake, an IWD reservoir, remains dry. In April 2013, the lake’s level was 9 feet and two years ago it was at its maximum of 18 feet. The groundwater level of the district’s Foster Lake wells continues to drop.

“We are keeping a careful observation on all our water-well levels, but without any significant rainfall, we may be forced into Stage 3,” Lynch told the board last week. “This means mandatory emergency restrictions restricting outdoor irrigation, filling pools or pulling water from hydrants.”

 

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