Idyllwild Water District Technician 2 Bill Rojas, left, is honored at the IWD Aug. 21 board meeting. General Manager Terry Lyons described Rojas’ efforts, including earning a hazardous waste certificate and working with the county’s Department of Environmental Health to obtain approval of IWD projects. The board, including President Warren Monroe, right, acknowledged Rojas’ work and awarded him a pay raise. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

At its Aug. 21 meeting, the Board of Directors for the Idyllwild Water District approved the initial study for the Tollgate tank and pipeline project and adopted a mitigated negative declaration and monitoring plan.

No comments were received before the public hearing opened and no member of the public attended the hearing.

The proposed 300,000-gallon tank will be constructed on land within the Idyllwild County Park, which the Riverside County Regional Park and Open-space District owns. Also, about 2,000 feet of new pipeline will be installed to connect the tank to the district’s distribution system at Delano Road.

A flora survey identified two locations of the Beautiful Hulsea, which is on the California Native Plant Survey as well as in the Western Riverside Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. However, the Beautiful Hulsea is not listed as sensitive, rare, threatened or endangered in California.

During construction, IWD will take actions such as fencing the plant’s habitat to mitigate any possible effect on it.

The mitigation plan includes several other actions, such as being aware of the possibility of discovering any buried cultural resources and the threat of fire, which heavy equipment engenders.

In addition to adopting the mitigated negative declaration, the board approved purchasing the tank, its construction and pipeline material. The welded steel tank erection will cost about $350,000. J.C. Coating Inc. of Alta Loma is also doing work for IWD on the new Golden Rod tank. General Manager Terry Lyons expects construction to be completed within three months — before winter. Interior painting will be deferred until spring.

The 2,000 feet of pipe and related material equipment will cost IWD about $27,000. Both contracts were the lower of two bids.

Lyons estimated that, when completed, the tank project will cost about $435,000, which is about $65,000 more than the original project estimate. He requested approval to transfer the difference from reserves to the project account and the board agreed.

The Tollgate zone has about 800 equivalent dwelling units with an average daily use of 200 gallons per EDU.

The Lilburn Corporation of San Bernardino prepared the study in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

In July, expenses for the district’s water operations exceeded water sales revenue by about $7.000; the pro rata share of the district’s property tax revenue resulted in a net income of about $15,000 for July, according to Hosny Shouman, IWD’s chief financial officer.

In water business, Lyons reported that Foster Lake was essentially dry. And well levels continued to decline throughout the district.

Lyons stressed that IWD’s Stage 2 Water Shortage Emergency begins Sept. 1. During Stage 2, IWD customers are encouraged to limit outside use of water for plants, irrigation and cleaning. Customers who use more than 1,000 cubic feet will see rates double. And doubling the fee for other levels of customer groups is also lowered.

Lyons said that the final two letters preceding implementation of Stage 2 have been purchased. When Stage 2 begins the total for the next 12 months will be limited to five.

In July, IWD’s usage fell 1 percent from July 2012. The decline was attributed to the temporary evacuation, which the Mountain Fire caused during July, according to Shouman. Nevertheless, July’s consumption was nearly 10 percent greater than June’s consumption. Since January, usage (55 million gallons) is 20 percent greater than the comparable 2012 period and is the highest level since 2007.

Lyons stressed that few residential customers exceed the 500-cubic-feet per month usage. “Those who do are already cutting back sprinkler systems,” said Kelly Clark, IWD’s office administrator. “They’re already concerned.”

In response to a question, Lyons stated that his goal for Stage 2 is to reduce consumption 10 percent.

Before ending the meeting, IWD President Warren Monroe said he would like to establish a long-term strategy committee and will discuss it at the September meeting.