After a lengthy discussion on two items, the Idyllwild Water District directors moved forward on the current water-emergency condition status and its wastewater treatment plant.

IWD is returning to a Stage 1 Water Conservation Emergency that began September 2013. (See separate story in this issue.)

While the current board has rejected the need for a wastewater recycling facility, the current wastewater system is on its agenda.

General Manager Jack Hoagland asked the board to approve $30,000 to hire a consultant to conduct a preliminary evaluation of the wastewater treatment plant’s condition and performance, and to identify possible improvements.

The plan and recommendations would be the basis of a grant request to the state to help finance the cost of any more work needed, he added.

The treatment plant is approaching 50 years of age. Consequently, Hoagland believes attention should be paid to improvements and upgrades. These costs could exceed $1 million.

For example, he described the plant as a “singleton.” In case of failure, damage or maintenance, there is no redundancy. The entire plant would be shut down to repair or make the change.

Hoagland stressed that the proposal would not address the plant’s capacity, but the issue could be part of a future study. In his opinion, there are a finite and limited number of possible new customers for the sewer district. Consequently, expanded capacity is not unlimited. He wants to focus on the plant’s reliability and effectiveness.

During the board discussion, there was some concern about the contract cost. Also, Director Steve Kunkle recommended a complete review of the entire sewer system in order to identify leaks and problems, which are easier to find and identify while water from the recent winter storms and snow dry out.

Hoagland agreed, but felt this work could start later. The district’s budget and finances are sufficient to take both actions. The plant work should be a higher priority now, in his opinion.

Ultimately, the board unanimously approved the contract. The final report should be completed by early summer.

In other business, Hoagland said he and the state agree on the amount of grant funding IWD will return to the state for deciding to stop the recycled water project. This should be completed in the next couple of months.

While work on the pipeline grant plan should be completed in April, Hoagland was pessimistic that he and staff could accomplish much with the funding for the horizontal well rehabilitation grant. “It’s not looking good,” he said.

Preparation was insufficient before and after the grant was awarded. The wet winter has prevented access to the area for development of a project plan, he explained. This added to the delay in preparing project plans and schedules.

IWD water production in February was 5.6 million gallons, about 475,000 gallons more than February 2016, but nearly 900,000 gallons less than January. For the two months of 2017, water production has fallen about 100,000 gallons.

For the month, water revenue was about $45,000 more than expenses.