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 exists for something far bigger than 300,000 gallons,” Billman suggested.
Without better estimates, the board was reluctant to provide any will serve letters. “We need to know the usage for the whole master plan,” said Allan Morphett, IWD president. “We need to know if we can supply it.”
He offered two criteria for future discussions with Idyllwild Arts. One was urging the school to use recycled water for toilets. Secondly, the school should share the cost of acquiring and constructing the new water supply tank. Eventually, Lyons and the board hope to work with the school to build and supply this capacity and ensure its future growth.
Meanwhile, Lyons expects Riverside County to approve the Master Plan without requiring a will serve letter for all the potential projects included in it.
In other business, the board approved its fifth telemetry system. This one would monitor IWD’s Foster Lake tanks and treatment plant.
“We will receive the operational data by radio for the Foster Lake tank levels, the status of wells and boosters, chlorination alarms, alarms for entry, power failure and will include the data for our solar system operation,” Lyons told the board. These telemetry systems have saved IWD the time necessary to send staff to collect the data and the data is real-time rather than episodic.
Jim Ludy, IWD auditor and controller, reported that the Foster Lake solar system lifetime savings exceeds $88,000 in its six years of operation.
Lyons reported that Strawberry Creek flow remained high for summer and IWD did divert water to Foster Lake, whose level remains full for mid-summer. Water usage was slightly more than July 2011 (73,000 gallons or less than 1 percent) and resulted in a slight boost to water sales over the original July estimate.
For the current year (since January), total production is 47.3 million gallons, which is 1.6 million (1.9 percent) less than the same period a year ago.