John “Jack” Hoagland, recently appointed interim general manager for the Idyllwild Water District.
Photo by JP Crumrine
After three months with no general manager, John “Jack” Hoagland will take the helm of the Idyllwild Water District. At its Dec. 21 meeting, the board of directors unanimously approved a contract with Hoagland to serve as interim general manager.

The board is moving forward on two projects and has put the recycled water project on hold pending a report from the new interim general manager.

For $8,800 per month, he will devote at least 120 hours monthly to managing the district. He will actively begin next week, although he has already been spending time at the office and meeting with staff.

He currently is serving on the Rancho California Water District board. He has more than 30 years experience working for, managing and consulting with Southern California water districts. He is a member of several professional boards, as well as a special representative to the San Luis Rey Municipal Water District.

The board will evaluate his performance after 90 days.

In other water business, the board approved hiring Albert Webb and Associates to help with the first phases of the pipeline replacement project. Later will be an option to use Webb to manage the pipeline installation or for the district to manage the construction phase itself. A portion of this project is funded from Riverside County’s Community Development Block Grant funds, which were awarded in April.

The board also authorized the staff, including the new interim general manager, to use the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant funding to rehabilitate the horizontal wells above Foster Lake. However, there was no estimate of how much the restored wells would increase the district’s water supply.

While leaning towards termination of the recycled water project, Director Vic Sirkin recommended that Tom Lovejoy, the former IWD general manager who spoke to the board last week, submit a written report with his analysis and reasons for discouraging the project’s continuation.

President Dr. Charles Schelly asked Hoagland to report to the board at its January meeting about the options for proceeding or terminating the project.

Geoffrey Caine also encouraged an analysis, which addressed the long-term consequences of the project.

Some spoke in favor of continuing the project despite questions about its cost-effectiveness.

“This is the sixth year of the drought and no end is in sight,” said resident Sue Nash. “In the hottest and driest year, you will need recycled water in some form. To burn your bridges retuning the funds to state could risk them saying, ‘No more.’”

In water business, IWD customers used about 6.1 million gallons in November, which was nearly 400,000 gallons less than November 2015.

Despite the lower production, water revenue for November was $117,000 or nearly $26,000 more than last year. The water fund was $18,000 net positive, compared to a $5,300 net loss in 2015.

The sewer fund’s net income was almost $30,000.

For the first 11 months of the year, total production has been 75 million gallons, which is 9 percent or nearly 6.1 million gallons more than during the same period last year. This is the equivalent of a whole month of water consumption.

The operations report showed that the ground level of several wells has risen in the past 12 months.