No major issues occupied the directors of the Pine Cove Water District last week. General Manger Jerry Holldber discussed the district’s finances and current water status.

PCWD’s total cash assets are about $270,000 and have been growing for the past several months, Holldber reported.

The district has already begun to use the funds from a recently approved U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and loan. Negotiations for purchasing a pickup truck are completed and Holldber expects the vehicle to arrive within the next two months.

Holldber has also requested some financial assistance from Jeff Stone, Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor, to purchase narrow band radios, whose use the Federal Communication Commission is requiring all public agencies to adopt.

This deadline to implement the new radio spectrum is Jan. 1, 2013. The FCC began almost two decades ago to ensure more efficient use of the radio spectrum and greater spectrum access for public safety and nonpublic safety users. Use of the 12.5 kHz technology (referred to as narrow banding) will allow additional channel capacity within the same radio spectrum, and support more users.

With the new radios and use of the new frequency, water districts, fire districts and other public safety agencies will be able to communicate directly in case an emergency or disaster occurred on the Hill.

“Interoperability used to happen only in the trench,” said Director Robert Hewitt. “But since 2001, [public safety] agencies became aware of the need to talk directly and share reports.”

October’s water usage increased, the most since July and was the greatest October consumption in six years. “Use was up this year, but it looks to be working good,” Holldber said. Although the monitoring well’s groundwater level had declined, its level was still high for fall, he noted.

Holldber also told the board about IWD’s plan to consider going to a Stage 1 Water emergency (see story page 1), but he assured the directors that PCWD did not need to take similar action.

“No, we’re not going to Stage 1,” he emphasized. “Groundwater levels are up very well, even though the winters were light on precipitation.” He also reminded the board that water sales have generally been declining, despite October’s increase.

“We sell less water and it’s not because of the conservation program, rebates, but simply less people are living here now,” Holldber stated. “The facts do not support a Stage 1 for us.”

PCWD has still not received any response from the Stonewood community to the district’s offer to provide water service to the neighborhood. Holldber suggested that the board invite the Stonewood community to the January regular meeting.

“At that time we could explain why we’re confident we can handle their water need,” he said.