Before and during the public hearing on the Idyllwild Water District standby fee, the audience, directors and General Manager Tom Lynch addressed several other topics besides the fee itself.

For example, Lynch said that two wells (nos. 12 and 27) had already been rehabilitated for less than $15,000. Well no. 27, on the north side of the Nature Center entrance, was originally drilled in August 2007. Then-GM Terry Lyons told the board that production would be about 25 gallons per minute, but production costs would be relatively expensive.

By April 2009, Lyons told the board he would have to virtually re-drill no. 27. By September 2009, he said the well was at 700 feet with new pumping equipment. Unfortunately, production was only 10 gpm compared to the 25 gpm when it was finished in 2007.

According to Lynch, the only problem with the well was the wrong pump size, and that was due to employee incompetence.

Regarding well no. 12, Lynch attributed its problem to an impellor placed upside down in the well. “Correcting that moved it from 5 gpm to 26 gpm,” he stated. IWD spent about $9,000 in 2011 to refurbish this well. Lynch attributed the upside-down impellor to employee incompetence, as well.

The cost for rehabilitating these wells (less than $15,000 total) was part of a $225,000 federal grant, according to Lynch. When asked why IWD waited to make these repairs, Lynch replied in an email, “IWD obtained a grant for well rehabilitation because it does not have surplus cash to apply to various capital projects.” However, the 2015 audit showed that the cash balance was greater than $2.1 million just for the water program.

Jeff Smith raised a question regarding Lynch’s progress on obtaining a State of California Water Treatment Grade II Operator Certificate, as required in his February 2014 hiring letter. Smith said he has found no evidence of Lynch having taken the exam, although Lynch stated at the July 20 meeting that his certificate was pending.

In response, Board Vice President John Cook, who ran the meeting, said the board was satisfied with the GM’s progress, although it remains a goal.

“It’s not a requirement to be a [water district] general manager. And we’re satisfied with the progress made,” he stated.

Finally, Cook asked Lynch to address a question from the July 20 meeting regarding using the Dutch Flat wells.

“A lot of the Dutch Flat water is heavily impacted by iron and manganese. Their treatment is extensive,” he stated. “The wells being rehabilitated don’t share the same hurdle.”

The next board meeting has been changed to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, at the district’s boardroom. While the Aug. 3 agenda said “tentatively,” both Cook and Lynch confirmed the meeting has been moved to a day earlier. Neither offered an explanation.

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