IWD proceeding with pipeline project; foregoes well project

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The Idyllwild Water District is tentatively moving forward on a project to replace pipelines from Bicknell and Reed lanes along Marian View Drive and also Cedar Street.

At the request of Director Steve Kunkle at last week’s meeting, the board postponed a decision on awarding a contract to Albert A. Webb and Associates, who designed the project, for assistance on reviewing and managing the bidding process. The intent of the postponement, which should not affect the availability of grant funding, is to get some thoughts about the project from former employees.

But the project to rehabilitate the horizontal wells above Foster Lake has been abandoned. This project was to be completed with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The grant was awarded in August 2015 and the project had to be completed by this August. In January 2017, when Interim General Manager Jack Hoagland started at IWD, little useful work had been done. Less than a year to design, bid and complete the work is insufficient, he told the board.

“I found no evidence of any work done on the project,” he told the board. “[The former general manager] may have talked to some people, but that’s not apparent.”

While the district does get some production from these wells, Hoagland recommended that the work could improve their capacity.

He has spoken to the U.S.D.A. representative who said IWD was not the only agency in the situation of being unable to spend the funds within the time period; however, there are several other grant programs for which IWD might be eligible and apply for funding.

The board also approved a new conflict-of-interest policy and set June 21 as the date for a public hearing on the standby water and sewer fees. These are imposed on lots within the district that do not have meters. Lots within the sewer district but not connected to the system also are charged a standby fee.

The amount has not changed in decades, $30 per acre or portion, and the funds are used to defray capital investments to maintain the system. Current users pay for these costs in monthly bills. Future customers will benefit from this investment and their standby fees are a portion of their share of the capital investment to maintain the system.

The board also approved a resolution requesting the Riverside County Registrar of Voters to conduct an election for four directors in August.

The terms of directors Vic Sirkin and Geoffrey Caine expire in December. They replaced former directors Mike Freitas and John Cook, who were re-elected in 2013, and would have had to stand for re-election if they wished to continue on the board.

Directors Charles Schelly and Peter Szabadi replaced former directors Jim Billman and June Rockwell, who were elected in 2015. These terms expire in December 2019. But since an election occurs before the terms expire, the replacements must stand for election for the remaining two years of the term.

IWD’s water production in March was 700,000 gallons less than in February and about 200,000 gallons less than a year ago. For the first three months of 2017, production is about 300,000 gallons less than the first quarter of 2016.

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