Jim Rees, new Fern Valley Water District board president. Photo by J P Crumrine
Jim Rees, new Fern Valley Water District board president.
Photo by J P Crumrine

Fern Valley Water District directors elected James Rees as the board president for 2016. Rees joined the board in December 2009 and served as vice president for the past two years and secretary/treasurer before that.

Trischa Clark is the new vice president and Richard Schnetzer was elected secretary/treasurer.

The vote was unanimous, 4-0, with Clark not attending the meeting.

Stepping down as president, Robert Krieger said, “Congratulations to Jim. I wish you well the next two years and the board will support you the best we can.”

Rees also made appointments to the board’s standing and ad hoc committees. The Information Technology Committee was dissolved since its work was completed last year. But a Hiring Committee, composed of Rees and Krieger, was formed to begin the process of finding a replacement for General Manager Steve Erler, who, at the December meeting, announced his intention to retire at the end of June 2016.

In financial business, Erler reported that in the first half of fiscal 2015-16 (which ends June 30), revenues were about $450,000 (44 percent of the estimate) and expenditures were $962,000 (63 percent of the budget). Reserve funds covered the $512,000 difference.

“We’re right on target,” Erler told the board. “This includes the additional pipeline installed on Rim Rock Road, and we’re still keeping with the project budget.”

Nearly two-thirds of the expenses were the cost of the pipeline project, completed in the fall. Also, property tax revenues were about $180,000, a third of the projection. This is normal property tax flow as the county collects and distributes the funds mostly after Jan. 1.

No major pipeline installation is planned for the summer, Erler added. In response to a question, he confirmed that the recent pipeline work has contributed to the decline in unaccounted-for water. For 2015, the total amount of unaccounted-for water loss averaged 11 percent compared to nearly 15 percent in 2014.

“I’m glad to see the unaccounted-for water down. If we got to less than 10 percent that would be great,” commented Krieger.

In other water business, Erler reported that customer usage in the November and December billing period was almost 4.6 million gallons, about 75,000 gallons more than the same two months in 2014. But total usage during 2015 was 30.9 million gallons, 3.4 million or 10 percent less than during 2014 and 21.6 percent fewer gallons than in 2013.

FVWD had four more customers during the current period and in November and December 2014.

Groundwater level for all wells has risen this month, Erler reported; although several still remain at levels below 2014.

“Last month, well no 8, at the highest elevation of all the district wells, increased 3.75 feet,” Erler said. “The average well level increase was 1.27 feet.”

As a result of the declining water usage and improving well levels, Erler suggested the board consider returning to a Water Conservation Emergency Stage 1 from the current Stage 3. However, he recommended the board defer any decision or action until the February meeting.

Erler did note that Resolution 550, adopted in August 2014, would still be in force. It limits watering lawns and landscaping to two days per week.

Specifically, the resolution makes it “unlawful for any person to apply potable water to outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff …” or on “driveways and sidewalks.” Outdoor irrigation of ornamental landscapes or turf with potable water will be limited to no more than two days per week.

The wells at the highest elevation are recharging sooner while the water is moving slowly down the Hill, observed Krieger.