A committee to review policies and procedures was created at the Feb. 15 Idyllwild Water District board meeting. Directors Geoffrey Caine and Steve Kunkle are the committee members.

Some specific policies to be reviewed are the questions of forgiveness for water bills and the availability of new water meters. Currently, the district has no policy to forgive a portion or all of a customer’s water bill, regardless of the reason.

At the beginning of the meeting, a new district customer asked the board for forgiveness of his water bill. The $400 bill was the customer’s second bill, having just bought the home in Idyllwild. The board had to deny the request.

“We do not have a forgiveness policy,” responded President Dr. Charles Schelly. “We do allow payments for as long as it takes.”

Caine added, “Personally, I’d like to have policy for forgiveness and will put it on the agenda.”

At the end of the meeting, Director Vic Sirkin noted the recent rainfall and improved situation at Foster Lake. He then asked how this might affect the availability of new water meters. Both he and Director Peter Szabadi asked General Manager Jack Hoagland to examine the issue.

Sirkin also felt the policy for issuing new meters should be reviewed, as well as the current water situation. For example, he felt that the district should consider the Idyllwild Community Center’s water needs as one request rather than piecemeal the issue over the next several years.

“Over time, we may be going into and out of different [water emergency] stages. For a project of that magnitude, it may be prudent to consider giving them a meter to complete the project rather than re-applying [for each construction phase],” Sirkin said.

Hoagland agreed that it should be considered sooner rather than later.

Regarding water conditions, he reported, “Well levels are up. Foster Lake wells are on the way to filling up. It is hard to tell people we’re still in a drought.”

IWD’s January water production was 6.5 million gallons, 576,000 gallons or 8.2 percent less than January 2016. But that volume was slightly greater than the two prior Januarys.

For all of 2016, IWD produced 80.8 million gallons, which was 6.4 million greater than 2015. Except for 2015, the last year’s production was the district’s smallest production in a decade.

Hoagland also provided a report on the effectiveness of the solar facility at Foster Lake. Since its completion in 2006, the electric cost and usage for the Foster Lake complex is about the same — $92,000 — as it was in 2002 and 2003. During this period, Southern California Edison’s rates have increased about 40 percent.

The savings approaches $125,000, Hoagland estimated.

At the time of approval, the facility was projected to generate $150,000 savings in about 11 years.

“It might be 12 years for pay back,” Hoagland said. “But it’s pretty much lived up to hype.”

The board also unanimously chose Aleshire and Wynder LLP, an Orange County law firm with a Riverside office, as its legal counsel. The Legal Representation Committee had met with representatives of Varner and Brandt, as well, but recommended Aleshire.

The committee felt their rates were very competitive with Riverside County firms, and they had extensive experience with water and public agency law.

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