Office remains open five days a week


A contentious item on the Fern Valley Water District board’s action agenda last Friday was approved by a vote of three to one. At issue was an original proposal to adopt a 4/10 schedule for the district (four days a week, 10 hours a day, Monday through Thursday.

General Manager Victor Jimenez revised the original proposal, last discussed at the April board meeting, and removed the suggested closure of the district office on Friday — an item of concern to the board.

The board voted to approve Jimenez’s revised proposal, leaving the office open on Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the GM and office manager adjusting their work schedules to be able to cover Friday. One would work Monday to Thursday and the other Tuesday to Friday. Field operators would work 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. four days a week, also with alternating schedules of Monday to Thursday and Tuesday to Friday. Jimenez explained that larger-scale projects requiring both field operators would take place on Tuesday to Thursday.

“The longer workdays during summer months will help greatly toward completing larger projects in one day instead of stretching them over two days, necessitating shutting down, securing and then reopening the project to complete it the next day,” said Jimenez. Also, by alternating field personnel’s four-day schedules, Friday would still be covered as part of a regular workweek rather than as overtime.

President Jim Rees noted he liked Jimenez’s revised proposal better than the original but still questioned the productivity of 10-day schedules for field personnel. He was the only director to vote against the proposal.

Jimenez stressed that the 4/10 summer schedule is a pilot project for a discreet period of time, April to end of September. In October, the schedule returns to a regular five days a week.

Remaining action items approved unanimously were: approval of Teaman, Ramirez and Smith’s proposal for a 2017-18 audit; approval of Kristin Bloomer, Desert Water Agency, as a candidate for the California Special District Association; a resolution adopting local guidelines for implementing the California Environmental Quality Act; annually fixing the ongoing Saunders Meadow assessment charges for 2017-18; establishing a policy for investing district reserve funds; and adopting the 2017-18 budget.

The adopted budget includes $419,875 in capital improvements. Major allocations were $125,000 for first year of meter replacements and $195,000 for hydrant replacements systemwide. New smart meters are forecast to capture more low flow, enable monthly billing and perform data logging that will assist in explaining water usage to customers. Meter replacement work will be performed in house. Hydrant upgrades of 39 4-inch hydrants to 6-inch commercial grade will aid in fire protection.

Work also will be performed in-house, saving the district about $200,000. The board agreed to postpone a $35,000 office expansion project until next fiscal year.

In water business, Jimenez reported that district water production during the March and April billing period was 4.4 million gallons, which was 500,000 gallons less than the January and February period, and about 100,000 less than the same period in 2016. Total production since January has been 9.4 million gallons, the most since 2013 and about 1 million gallons more than the first four months of 2016. Jimenez suggested new meters will help the district with evaluating ongoing water loss. “With a program for testing all production meters, we’ll have a better idea where we are regarding water loss,” he said.

In his director’s report, Jimenez noted Tahquitz Creek production has decreased to about 412 gallons per minute in April and Strawberry Creek produced 260 gpm. Overall district water consumption has decreased by 25.8 percent from July 2016 and 6 percent from April 2017.

The board and GM discussed contracting with a firm to provide telemetry system monitoring of district equipment. Jimenez noted that a firm, which he will research, supplies the costly hardware, and the district would pay a monthly fee, avoiding any large capital outlay for equipment purchase.

Director Richard Schnetzer suggested the district consider holding a customer open house and tour of district facilities.

The next board meeting is scheduled at 9 a.m. Friday, July 21.