At its Friday, Aug. 19 meeting, the Fern Valley Water District (FVWD) board and general manager struggled with the difficulty of accurately forecasting an annual budget when fees from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for inspections can fluctuate greatly from year to year. “It’s difficult to get accurate fee estimates from [CDPH],” said General Manager Steve Erler.

Director Robert Krieger queried if CDPH is fully funded by fees, in which case the more fees they collect the better for CDPH. The board and Erler questioned whether the fees are, in all instances, justified. “These fee fluctuations will result in rate increases,” said Krieger. And addressing Erler, Krieger said, “and that should be your concern. We’re here to protect our customers.” Erler recounted a previous incident when the engineer charged with making inspections inquired whether she could bring along her supervisor. Erler thought it would have been a courtesy visit on the part of the supervisor until the district received a bill charging additionally for the supervisor’s time.

Krieger and the board recommended that Erler pursue a further investigation of the code and applicable law as to CDPH’s authority.

In other business, Erler reported El-Co Contractors began installing pipeline on Aug. 1 and had completed 1,700 feet of water main pipe as well as valves and hydrants. As a cost-savings measure, district staff is performing traffic control and inspection of work as it is completed, he added. The district has contracted with CRM Tech, a cultural resources service located in Colton, to ensure that California Environmental Quality Act guidelines are met regarding an unearthed Native American artifacts. Staff determined that a pipeline alignment on Boulder Drive came near a known historic site that contains 11 Native American bedrock mortars.