Pine Cove Water District residents will have a choice of three candidates for the two director seats up for election in the August mail-in ballot election. Diana Eskew and Timothy Lange, both board members in their first election, and one challenger — Sharon Kaffen — are the candidates.
Voted ballots must be received by the election officials no later than the close of the polls on election day or be postmarked on or before election day, Aug. 25, and received no later than three days after election day to be counted.
On Tuesday, Aug. 4, the Pine Cove Property Owners Association and the Town Crier will hold a candidates forum for PCWD voters. The forum will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Pine Cove Fire Station (Station 23).
This interview is with Sharon Kaffen. Lange’s interview was in the July 9 issue of the Town Crier and Eskew’s appeared in the July 16 issue.
Sharon Kaffen is a retired career educator who has taught in California and Texas. She is an honors graduate in science and teaching from the University of California, Los Angeles, and has a master’s degree in special education.
While living on the Oregon coast, “… in perfect beauty, we read about Idyllwild in a National Geographic,” she said. “Since we needed to be closer to Los Angeles, we became residents more than 13 years ago.”
As a Pine Cove resident, Kaffen has worked on Neighborhood Watch activities as well as fire abatement projects with the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire. And she has continued her interest in education, helping with the summer reading program at Idyllwild Library.
TC: What will you contribute to the board?
“The future of Pine Cove will be determined by the future of its water supply,” she stated. As a demonstration of Kaffen’s passion about this subject and her background, she has contacted water experts throughout the state, including the State Water Resources Control Board and other water districts.
“I am convinced that I can contribute as a director with up-to-date answers as we work our way through this water crisis,” Kaffen said. “Solutions to the problem will be my contribution.”
TC: With respect to revenues and water supply, what should customers expect in the next 12 months? … and the next five years?
Kaffen is ardently concerned about Pine Cove’s future water. “Pine Cove’s water supply is totally dependent on how much snow melt we get,” she said and refers to predictions that the drought will continue for years. With no change in the board’s attitude, she believes the district’s water supply is in jeopardy.
Water demand has begun to increase, and Kaffen believes it will continue. “Remember just a few years ago, our town felt deserted with vacancies and for-sale signs everywhere,” she said. “It’s changing. Vacancies are being replaced by families. Professionals are moving up here to get away and people are purchasing their second home. This means more water usage and this trend is just starting.”
Her concern for customers also extends to their resources. She is adamantly opposed to more rate increases. “I will work to block any more rate hikes,” she said.
TC: Besides simply urging “conservation,” what else can the district do to prevent going into a Stage 3?
“On the demand side, the board and Jerry get triple As for coaching and supporting conservation; but more can be done,” she replied. A community car wash with a basin to catch the water and drought-resistant gardening classes were two suggestions.
Based on her own research, Kaffen urges a substantially greater investment in rain-gathering equipment, “not just rain barrels.”
“Rain gathering above the wells … can replenish our water supply,” she asserted. “Much of the rain runs down the Hill. Slow it down with low-cost methods and build our depleting water supply.”
Specific examples include constructing culverts and diversions to slow the flow of surface water in order to increase its ability to percolate into the ground.
TC: How do you assess the district’s infrastructure?
“I feel a lot of the decline in water levels is not because of actual usage but leaky pipes and huge losses that were allowed to continue for months,” she replied.
If elected, Kaffen promised to try to move PCWD board meetings from Wednesday mornings to evenings or Saturdays.
“Complacency, resting on prior accomplishments and not being forward-looking will not get us out of this water emergency,” she stated. “We need to reach out and discuss solutions and new methods. That is what I can offer if I am elected to the Pine Cove Water board.”