The Idyllwild Water District (IWD) board began a process that may take many meetings to ultimately resolve. General Manager Terry Lyons reported that Idyllwild Arts staff has approached IWD for a “will serve” letters in anticipation of new construction at the school beginning this fall.

IWD can provide sufficient water for a new health center, which is the first construction scheduled. Additional facilities could place a strain on the district’s current water supply and distribution system, Lyons said.

Eventually, the school would like to have its water service increased from 350 gallons per minute (gpm) to more than 2,000 gpm. Since Idyllwild Arts and the entire Tollgate area is served from one large pipeline beginning at the Tollgate Road and Highway 243 intersection, Lyons explained to the board that additional storage capacity would be needed.

“Having a 300,000-gallon reservoir in the Tollgate zone would provide the requested 2,000 gpm,” he said. But some board members questioned whether this size tank would be sufficient. Director Jim Billman wanted to know more about the school’s prospective water demand and not just the need for the four immediate projects. “The potential the total state revenue. Originally, the state estimated the $150 fee would generate an additional $50 million this year and about $200 million annually. In addition, the funds are for fire prevention programs rather than CAL FIRE operations.

The state is developing amendments to the bill to address the loss of CAL FIRE funding. But once the fees are collected, it is likely the Howard Jarvis Association will file litigation over whether the fee is a tax and was improperly imposed.

So, this decision is on thin ice for months and maybe years.