Idyllwild Water District directors last week approved a proposed memorandum of understanding with the Idyllwild Brewpub — a big step toward the eventual opening of a local craft brewery.

Describing the MOU to the board, General Manager Tom Lynch said, “In many respects, the pre-treated material that will be released will be beneficial to the wastewater treatment process at the plant.”

The MOU will regulate the Brewpub’s discharge of effluent into IWD’s wastewater collection system. The MOU specifies several key points, including that the Brewpub’s discharge will be retreated.

The Brewpub also agreed to certain chemical limitations, such as keeping the pH within the range of 6 to 9.5. Also, any discharge will occur between Monday and Friday, excluding weekends, which are already IWD’s peak wastewater surge periods.

The weekly total is limited to 2,000 gallons and no more than 400 gallons in one day without prior permission. The discharge is expected to occur after 8 p.m.

The MOU was a product of negotiations between the Brewpub, the district and IWD’s wastewater consultant, Wyatt Troxel, whose report a year ago verified how the Brewpub’s discharge would help the waste treatment system.

“The Brewpub will be using water from their private well,” Lynch reported to the board. “The use of Idyllwild Water District-treated water would not be suitable for brewing purposes.”

The MOU was approved 4-0-1. Director June Rockwell abstained. “I won’t vote for something unless I have enough information about it first,” she stated.

During Lynch’s Work in Progress Report, he told the board that wastewater supervisor Nick Iliev had resigned for a job in Fallbrook, as well as another sewer employee. However, the California Rural Water Association has helped IWD find a temporary operator until permanent staff can be hired.

In response to a question about the reasons for the departures, Lynch said the employees left for higher salaries elsewhere. Directors Steve Kunkle and Rockwell were concerned about the turnover in recent years; so President Jim Billman asked Lynch to prepare a report on employee turnover for a future meeting.

In water business, Lynch reported that IWD was still in Stage 2 Water Conservation. “I looked at Foster Lake yesterday and saw two puddles,” he added. “The water does percolate into the ground and there is some benefit to our wells.”

Revenues for the water program were $114,900 in February and exceeded expenses by $33,100, according to Hosny Shouman, IWD’s chief financial officer.

Water production last month was 5.1 million gallons, which was 1.1 million gallons less than February 2015 and nearly 2 million gallons less than last month. Yet, water revenues were $113,100, up slightly compared to $112,500 in 2015, despite less water sold.

At the beginning of the meeting, Pine Cove resident Jeff Smith advised the board that, in response to his public records request for all correspondence with the Insurance Service Organization (who sets fire protection classes), he had received just one page from the district.

“I was told this was all the information they had,” Smith said. Yet, the information which he said he received from Fern Valley Water District was much more extensive.

In response, Billman asked when the original request had been submitted and then added, “I appreciate what you said and we’ll get the information you requested.”

Another Pine Cove resident and local realtor Marge Muir asked the board to review the policy that seems to prohibit moving a water meter, which has been paid for, from one vacant parcel to another.

“If someone is willing to pay to move a meter, why would the district be concerned?” she asked. She submitted a letter to Lynch, who said he would respond to her after his review.

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