Editor’s note: Four directors for the Pine Cove Water District are on the August mail-in ballot. The terms for three —President Robert Hewitt, Joel Palmer and

Lou Padula, incumbent member of the Pine Cove Water District Board of Directors.
Photo by JP Crumrine

Lou Padula — expire in December. They and challenger Jeffery Kleefisch are on the ballot for four-year terms.

The fourth director, Vicki Jakubac, replaced Tim Lange, who was elected in the August 2015 election and resigned in March 2016. She is unchallenged for the final two years of Lange’s term. 

Ahead of the election, the Town Crier has interviewed the four PCWD candidates. 

Lou Padula was first elected in 2005. He was re-elected to new four-year terms in 2009 and 2013. During his time on the board, he has served as vice president and secretary.

Padula moved to Idyllwild full-time in 2002. He and Annamarie, his wife, have had a house in Pine Cove since 1985. He currently serves on the County Service Area 38 Advisory Committee and is a volunteer at several other local nonprofit organizations.

What are your thoughts about the district’s goals for the next 12 months?

“We have a number of new people [staff] and I’d like to see our new people — office and field — be successful.

“I like it that we had a [positive budget] balance this year, and assets are greater than $300,000. That is very good and I’d like to keep that as a means to bounce back if we were to have any troubles. You never know if that might happen, like a forest fire or earthquake. But we have enough water in storage.

“We are there to provide potable water for the people of Pine Cove.”

What are your thoughts about the district’s goals for the next four years?

“This board has been a team. I’d like to keep that. We act like a team and work as a team. We don’t have some axe to grind that I often see in other districts.

“We three are running as team players and have been for many years. We’re not stale nor complacent. We want programs that are best for Pine Cove; that’s why we’re here.

“I’d like to see the next four years as a pleasant repeat of the last four years, a continuation of what we’ve done for the community.”

Why do you want to serve another term?

“It’s not ego. See what’s happened in the water district and Pine Cove. I want to continue working with the directors and other members to provide water at a reasonable price.

“We’ve worked to get those solid balances in Pine Cove and the district. I’d like to be part of continuing that.

“I make jokes because it’s my personality. But I always have ‘what’s good for people of Pine Cove’ in my mind.”

The state just came out of a historic drought. Do you believe PCWD can withstand another drought? Or what should the district do to mitigate the effects of another drought?

“We’ve been preparing for a long time to make sure water is not leaking. We don’t waste money or water.

“I don’t know if we have more well possibilities. But we do keep records of how much water we’re using. But snow is the life line of the district. It takes time to percolate through the ground. Our well levels are going up, an indication water is percolating down.

“People expect restrictions to stop immediately. But our customers use water parsimoniously.”

Water production, through May, is the greatest since 2007. Are you worried about the conservation ethic dying or leaks in the system?

“I know there are leaks in the system. That is the reason we bought our own leak-detection system. It saves us money. Every leak we find is water we save for the people.

“I don’t know why it went up, but some people thought it was OK after all the rains. But Annamarie [his wife] and I use bales of hay for growing outdoor plants. They hold the water, which conserves it.”

Without the lease payments from the Rocky Point communication companies, PCWD’s budget would be in a different position. Should rates for water usage be increased and the lease payments set aside for “rainy days” or capital projects?

“It’s diminishing returns. How much can we raise the rent? These are five-year contracts that increase a certain percent each year for ‘x’ years.

“We’ve just added the Hemet School district as a customer. These are great contracts and we’re not going out of business soon.

“There are a lot of things to do to save money. The big step is doing the pipeline projects.

“We have a great budget and the auditors concur. It’s not a crap shoot, it’s very well done and planned. Between Jerry [Holldber, PCWD general manager] and the board, we have a lot of communication with the public.”