Fern Valley Water District customers Suzanne and David Horowitz experienced extensive water loss from an undisclosed leak and petitioned the Fern Valley Water District for a catastrophic water loss adjustment. The Horowitz’s (who did not attend the meeting) asked in a letter that the $13,695.80 bill for the period of July 1 through Aug. 31 be reduced to the “average monthly amount” of the last two bills.

After considerable debate and an appearance by property caretaker James Brannan, the board voted to deny the adjustment for a number of reasons. In September 2001, the Horowitzes had requested and received an adjustment for catastrophic water loss. Established board policy is to allow only one adjustment per customer.

The board expressed concern over maintaining precedent in fairness to all its customers. “I don’t see any way we can break precedent,” said Board President Charlie Wix. “We go with policy.”

In addition, the board noted that Brannan, who normally visits the property regularly to run irrigation, had not done so for a period of 16 days, which is when the leak was occurring. According to a report to the board from General Manager Steve Erler, if he had been to the property during this period, he would have noticed the visible leak, “flowing on the surface of the ground for about 35 feet, and then seeping into the ground [from the report to the board].”

The leak was a consequence, stated the report, from a broken pipe that owners did not repair, coupled with the fact that the “shut-off valve was left on when the residence [was] unoccupied.”

In other business, the board approved the annual audit submitted by Teaman, Ramirez and Smith, Inc., certified public accountants, and reviewed a staff report on odor issues with Tank No. 11 that had undergone renovation in 2008 that included installation of a certified immersion grade epoxy coating in the tank’s interior. The district has taken a number of steps to remedy odor issues, but some complaints continue even though water quality sampling indicated “acceptable results” according to a staff report to the board.