Water Emergency Stage 2 began Sept. 1 for Idyllwild Water District customers. How they react to the restrictions will not be known for a month or longer. During the Sept. 19 board meeting, Director John Cook led a discussion on how the board might create incentives to achieve a 10-percent reduction in usage during Stage 2.

“That’s very hard to construct — a meaningful approach,” responded Board President Warren Monroe.

“People are calling and telling us about the neighbors using water or washing their car,” Kelly Clark, office administrator, said, confirming that customers are aware of the Stage 2 situation and its purpose,

August usage was 8.6 million gallons, about 970,000 gallons (10 percent) less than the July volume. However, it was nearly 600,000 gallons more than production for August 2012. Nevertheless, the August water consumption for these two years was less than any August since 2002.

The board is still trying to determine how many customers in each rate category are using water in the second- or third-rate tiers. Clark said “about 34 customers were using more than 3,000 cubic feet,” or 22,000 gallons monthly. Many of these are commercial customers, she said.

The higher water usage rate is not excessive and directors recognized that it would not prevent high usage if a customer were willing to pay for the water. “People are people and this is the best we can do,” concluded Director Jim Billman.

In other financial business, Chief Financial Officer Hosny Shouman reported that both the water and sewer districts ended the month with positive income.

The board decided to consider raising its compensation for attending meetings. Currently, directors receive $50 for each board and committee meeting they attend. The compensation rate was established in the 1970s, according to General Manager Terry Lyons.

Directors John Cook and Michael Freitas discussed the amount of time they invest in preparing for board and committee meetings. “It’s often more than three hours for each session,” Freitas said. Director Dean Lattin said the current remuneration had been in effect for years and inflation had diminished its value. But he questioned whether IWD could afford it. For the current fiscal year, IWD has budget $12,000 for their compensation.

The motion, recommending an increase to $100 per meeting and a holding a public hearing on the proposal, passed 4-1 with Monroe opposed.

A survey of the district’s customers’ income will begin next month. Census data on median incomes did not distinguish the IWD area from all residents within ZIP code 92549. Consequently, the state determined that IWD was not eligible as a disadvantaged community. The board signed an agreement with Specialized Utility Services Program of Sacramento to conduct a survey anticipating that the specific district data will change the state’s position.

In Lyons’ absence, Shouman reported that work on the Golden Rod and Toll Gate storage tanks was progressing. The internal painting of the Golden Rod tank is completed. The pipeline to the Toll Gate tank site will be completed this month and materials will begin being delivered to the site for the tank’s construction this fall.

The board will hold a special meeting Monday, Oct. 7, to adopt the employee personnel manual, which was reviewed by the board and employees last week. The board also approved a position description for recruiting a general manager to replace Lyons, who plans to retire in the spring of 2014.