Idyllwild Water District has met several times with staff and managers of the Riverside County Park and Open-Space District regarding constructing a storage tank to serve the Tollgate zone, including Idyllwild Arts Academy.

The sessions have been very successful, according to Board President Allan Morphett.

At the Regional Parks District Advisory Committee Sept. 13 meeting, the concept was on the agenda and the commission unanimously directed the staff to proceed negotiating with the water district, said Scott Bangle, general manager of the Parks District.

“This request was to approve a proposed 300,000 gallon tank site on the Idyllwild Park property,” reported General Manager Terry Lyons. “The commissioners approved our request and authorized their staff to negotiate an agreement with us.”

The Parks commission is supportive and would like to see IWD install a water hydrant at the west end of County Park. Also they are interested in using reclaimed water for the park’s meadow, once IWD begins producing it, Morphett added.

Both Lyons and Morphett stressed the agreement with the County Parks district is contingent upon IWD and Idyllwild Arts reaching an agreement for increasing the water volume to the school. Assuming all the agreement negotiations proceed successfully, Lyons is hopeful tank construction could begin in late spring 2013.

The IWD board also asked its Rules and Regulation Committee to review the current Ordinance 60, which establishes the criteria for declaring a water shortage emergency plan. The ordinance was adopted in November 1999.

In October 1999, IWD and Pine Cove Water District signed a memorandum of understanding for both districts to cooperate and jointly declare water shortages and emergencies on the Hill.

More than a decade later, IWD wants to review this policy for several reasons. As General Manager Terry Lyons told the board, the criteria for making the determination involves Pine Cove’s water and weather situation as well as Idyllwild’s. Groundwater wells are Pine Cove’s only source of water, but IWD relies on Strawberry Creek flow in addition to its wells.

“It’s probably outdated and now’s a good time to review it,” Lyons told the board. “All three districts receive different rainfall and snow packs, it may be better to go individually.”

The committee will also examine whether there is a potential problem if IWD has no limitation on the number of “will serve” letters it could issue in a year when there is no emergency stage established.

The board is questioning whether an unlimited expansion of water and sewer resources is merited, even if there is no water shortage. Also there is no limitation on the number of letters one entity could request and receive in one year, according to Morphett.

For example, a new restaurant could need seven equivalent dwelling units. In a Stage 1 situation, IWD would be limited to issuing a maximum of ten EDUs annually and none if the drought became a Stage 3 Emergency.

Based on the criteria in the agreement — one criteria has been met and the other is close to being met — IWD is on the edge of authorizing a Stage 1 emergency.

Director Warren Monroe, committee chair, agreed that the ordinance needed to be refreshed, “especially if usage is close to production.”

IWD has started (July 1) the fiscal year well. As of the end of August, the District’s revenues have been $57,000 more than expenses. Although the district did receive nearly $25,000 of non-operating revenues in August, the operating revenues exceeded expenses for the first two months.

Water production was 1.2 million gallons less than August 2011, the second consecutive million-gallon decline. In the first eight months of 2012, IWD’s water production is about 5 percent less than the comparable 2011 period.

In other water business, Lyons reported that the District increased its Strawberry Creek diversion in August, due to the rain, but the water level at Foster Lake continued its summer decline. The level dropped about one and half feet last month. But the water level for many of the district’s other wells rose in August.

Lyons also reported that repairs and maintenance at wells 13 and 23 would substantially improve production from those wells.

For about $125,000, IWD is purchasing land near Strawberry Creek, where an existing well is located and a potential well site.