Well levels are lower at Fern Valley Water District owing to a drier than normal winter. Prior to the storm that dropped eight inches of snow in Idyllwild and 13-1⁄2 inches in Pine Cover and upper Fern Valley, precipitation was about half of what it had been last year at this time. Now it approaches two-thirds of the long-term average precipitation through February.

According to District General Manager Steve Erler’s report at the Friday, Feb. 17, board meeting, average decline in well levels is one to 10 feet compared to same time last year.

Tank 11, which had been temporarily withdrawn from service, has been brought back on line, according to Erler. The tank’s water levels are being kept at lower levels to facilitate more frequent circulation to promote freshness.

Erler told the board that Tank 5 has been temporarily removed from service to cut down on time water remains held (“detained”), during times of minimal monthly demand, Since Tank 5 sits in series between 7 and 6, engineers had recommended this action to cut down on buildup of disinfectant byproduct levels in the first and second quarters of 2012. By taking Tank 5 out of action, less system water stands, and proportionally more water circulates. Erler stressed that the district has never been out of compliance with California Department of Public Health Stage One byproduct standards, but this latest action was taken as a remediating step in preparation for Stage Two standards that go into effect on Oct. 1, 2013.

In a letter to the district dated June 6, 2011, the health department directed a review of the district’s distribution system. The review would consider seasonal differences in water source usage and demand, water quality, storage tank operations and storage capacity that could contribute to system spikes in trihalomethane and haloacetic acid. Those levels have spiked in the past in district water. The district, according to Erler, has completed engineering recommendations on how to best meet the new standards.

Erler reported the conclusion to a standoff over a shared sewer connection issue raised at the last board meeting. He noted that Idylliwld Water and Fern Valley Water districts are sharing the installation costs for a new connection. Fern Valley customer, Gary Weber has agreed to pay for preparation of the sewer line easement and will present it to the Board for approval, according to Erler.