Fern Valley Water District General Manager Steve Erler said the mid-January cold snap caused average district water demand to triple from 80 gallons per minute to a peak of 256 gpm. At the Friday, Feb. 15, district board meeting, Erler said staff conducted a system survey and found that numerous customers had failed to properly prepare their home’s plumbing systems for freezing winter temperatures, which often occur on the Hill. This resulted in many leaks occurring throughout the district.

The district also suffered major leaks from three burst water meters, and an air vacuum valve froze, broke and ran undetected for several days.

Erler also reported about the continuing problems with Tank 11 and customer complaints about its water odor and taste. J. Colon Coating, Inc. completed tank pipe retrofit, interior coating and cleaning and disinfecting in January 2009. Customer complaints regarding odor and taste began after the coating process.

The district has tried a number of fixes but the problem continues to resurface. Staff took the tank out of service in December 2012, the ninth time since it was coated. Customer water quality complaints have stopped since Tank 11 came offline, according to Erler.

Erler had previously informed the board that he would have a third party “unbiased coating specialist” inspect the tank to determine the cause of the objectionable water quality. If a flaw of some sort in the interior coating created the problem, Director Robert Krieger said that the tank might have to be recoated or the problem would persist. “It might not be fixable,” he said. He also suggested the district might have to resort to legal action against the coating contractor given the high cost to recoat.

Krieger and Board President Charlie Wix agreed to serve on an ad hoc committee to review the Tank 11 problems and potential solutions.

In other actions, the board voted to approve prefunding employee post employment health benefits through CalPERS. The district had been carrying those benefits as a liability on its balance sheet. The vote was three to approve, Directors Jim Rees, Trischa Clark, and Robert Krieger. Director Dana Johnson abstained and Wix as president did not vote.

Erler also reported on the District’s current water supply and recommended that there was no need at this time for the district to consider going to Stage 1 conservation. The board agreed with the general manager’s evaluation.