Pine Cove Water takes issue with IWD positions

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At their latest Pine Cove Water District board meeting, the directors covered a variety of topics from the budget to water quality and water use.

After reviewing the budget results, the board discussed several water issues, two of which involved the Idyllwild Water District.

The board endorsed General Manager Jerry Holldber’s request for more information regarding the plans and intentions for the proposed recycled wastewater treatment facility at the IWD.

“What is the plan?” is the question, Holldber told the board, about which he is seeking information. Nearly a decade ago, the management plan prepared for the former San Jacinto Mountain Area Water Study Agency expressed some concern and caution about storing recycled water in this type of geographical area.

“We can’t support what we don’t know,” Holldber stated.

In 2010, IWD had shared its original planning information with PCWD, who is concerned about maintaining the quality of the groundwater in the vicinity of Foster Lake if IWD were to pump the water output from the treatment facility to the lake.

Since then, IWD has received grant and loan funds from the state to proceed with construction of the facility. IWD is completing its engineering specifications to be available with its request for construction bids in the next year.

On the advice of the district’s legal counsel, Brad Neufeld of Graham, Savage, Nolan and Tilde, Holldber requested information such as reports, engineering or consultant studies and other data about the project from IWD, who has said it is collecting the information.

“Basically we have no information from IWD. So I asked for it from the time of the request to Terry Lyons [former IWD general manager],” Holldber told the board. “I have a lot of questions and no answers. Brad said to ask for everything.”

Board President Robert Hewitt, speaking for his colleagues, supported the request for more information. Also Jeff Smith, Pine Cove resident, said, “You need to make certain there is no harm to Pine Cove resources. You have an obligation to ensure groundwater quality.”

Providing water to the Idyllwild Community Center to be constructed at the Butterfield Commons on Strawberry Creek was the other topic involving IWD. Since that district is not issuing any new “will-serve” letters, the center’s construction might be delayed until IWD can extract itself from a Stage 2 water emergency.

However, PCWD has no prohibition on new customers; therefore, Holldber has contacted Janice Lyle, president of the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center board, about supplying water to the center. He added that Fern Valley Water District may also explore its options to help. The PCWD board also was supportive of this action.

Pine Cove resident Marge Muir, also a member of the SJMCC board, said, “We’ll use it and there are no boundaries on water. I appreciate you taking the opportunity to study this.”

The fiscal year 2015-16 budget ended with an $18,000 net income. Total revenues were $800,000, about $21,000 less than estimated. Holldber said one reason was no new water meters had been sold last year, despite the district’s willingness to add customers.

Expenses were about $780,000, which was $40,000 less than projected. While office supplies and system maintenance were up, election costs, structural maintenance, engineering, transportation and travel, and board fees were down.

During June, PCWD customers used about 3.6 million gallons of water, Holldber reported. The June usage is 1.3 million gallons more than May and 40,000 gallons more than June 2015.

For the first six months of 2016, total production has been 14.2 million gallons, which is 1.1 million gallons, or 7.6 percent, less than the first half of 2015. This year’s first six months’ consumption is the lowest in the past decade.

“All the wells are doing alright. Some are lower [groundwater level] and some are up,” Holldber told the board. Well no. 10, the monitoring well, remained the same as May.

 

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