Chief Finance Officer Hosny Shouman announced that the Idyllwild Water District is now debt-free. The final payment ($125,000) for notes issued in 1997 was made earlier this month.

Total payments were $1.5 million and helped to re-
finance the district’s sewage treatment facility.

The district’s finances are positive through the first five months of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2014. However, Shouman expressed some concern that the sewer revenue was not fully covering the program’s expenses. But the board will consider this issue during the formulation of future budgets.

General Manager Terry Lyons also announced that the 200,000-gallon Golden Rod tank was completed and is already connected to IWD’s distribution system this month. The full cost of rebuilding and expanding the storage facility was about $250,000. It adds nearly 100,000 gallons of storage to the district’s reservoirs.

The second tank under construction — Tollgate — has been erected and painting will be done once warm weather returns in the spring.

In water business, Lyons reported that the groundwater level of the district’s wells at Foster Lake dropped 4.5 feet in November to 30 feet below the surface. The groundwater level of the Nature Center wells dropped nearly 20 feet. However, the wells near Strawberry Creek, such as the downtown wells and Fern Valley 1A and 2, had groundwater levels rise.

“All three are very close to the creek and reflect what the creek is doing right now,” Lyons said. Nevertheless, IWD did not divert any Strawberry Creek water in November.

The district’s new triggers for establishing a Stage 3 water emergency are groundwater levels below 50 feet for the Foster Lake wells and 30 feet for downtown wells.

“Have we accomplished the 10 percent usage reduction we were looking for in Stage 2?” asked Director John Cook. The district entered a Stage 2 water emergency on Sept. 1. While usage dropped in November, the 10-percent decline had not occurred, “but we’re looking for it in a couple of months,” Lyons replied.

IWD’s November production was 6.8 million gallons, about 250,000 gallons more than November 2012. The average November production since 2008 has been 6.8 million gallons, while the 10-year average is 6.4 million gallons.

In Board of Directors business, Cook was elected vice president for 2014. He succeeds Director Warren Monroe and joins Director Jim Billman, who was chosen president last month, as the board officers for next year.

The district’s income survey is moving forward. Nearly 500 responses have been received; however, about 100 were returned without any information other than concerns that it might be a scam or invasion of privacy. Lyons said he will know next month whether they have received a sufficient number of responses to finish the analysis.

J.P. Crumrine can be reached at [email protected]