Interest in filling vacancy due Aug. 4

At the regular July meeting of the Idyllwild Water District Board of Directors, his former colleagues acknowledged the resignation of former director Vic Sirkin for health reasons. They then approved a process for replacing him on the board.

Individuals wishing to serve on the board should submit a letter of interest and résumé with qualifications to the board by Friday, Aug. 4. The board intends to make a selection at its Aug. 16 meeting.

Sirkin’s current term expires the first Friday of December; but he and Director Geoffrey Caine were unopposed for election to a full four-year term starting in December. His successor will have to stand for election for the final two years of the term in 2019.

Just this week, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved the election of directors Dr. Charles Schelly and Peter Szabadi to finish two years of a previous director’s term, as well as Sirkin’s and Caine’s election.

In other business, the board approved a contract to replace water pipeline along Marion View Drive and a second contract with Albert Webb and Associates to help staff oversee the pipeline work.

The winning bid of $643,000 was submitted by Genesis Construction of Hemet. This was the lowest of seven bids. The next lowest bid was slightly more than $790,000 and the highest was more than $1.35 million. Webb provided the designs and will help with the construction oversight. Its services will cost IWD about $230,000.

Total project cost will be about $875,000. The district will receive a $155,000 grant from Riverside County for the project, thus reducing IWD’s costs to $720,000, according to Interim General Manager Jack Hoagland.

Larger projects might have economies of scale resulting in a lower cost per linear foot, he speculated. However, over the next 10 to 15 years, Hoagland projected that IWD would need to replace about 30,000 feet of pipeline. Based on the cost of this project, he estimated IWD will spend about $8.25 million maintaining its water pipes.

The vote for both contracts was 3-1. Director Steven Kunkle opposed both proposals because the actual costs substantially exceeded the initial estimates.

“This project is now about $400,000 more than we thought it would be. Webb, the engineers, their project cost is $90,000 more than the $140,000 original estimate,” Kunkle said, explaining his opposition.

He also expressed disagreement that the proposal included four separate legs of pipeline work. He argued that if the district had requested bids for each portion, one or more areas might be too expensive now. In his opinion, the project designs are more appropriate for large water districts elsewhere and not fully applicable to the Idyllwild environs.

“I cannot in good conscious go along, [we] don’t need this work immediately,” he said in closing.

A previous board initiated this project, Szabadi acknowledged, yet “we need to replace pipe that the previous board didn’t replace or repair.” And Caine, who also expressed some discomfort with the project, concurred with Szabadi. “We’ve got to begin replacing pipe sometime.”

Lowering the district’s water emergency stage reduced revenue in June, according to Chief Financial Officer Hosny Shouman, but the June revenue still exceeded costs.

For the entire year, estimated net proceeds for water are $120,000 and about $90,000 for the sewer district. Shouman emphasized that both are before depreciation expenses and subject to the annual audit, which he expects to be completed this fall.

In June, water production was slightly less than 10 million gallons. This production volume was 2.2 million gallons more than May and 2.4 million gallons greater than June 2016.

For the first six months of 2017, water production has been about 4.6 million gallons or 12.4 percent greater than the 37.4 million gallons produced in the same period last year.

Hoagland also reported that water loss had jumped to 19 percent in June compared to a 6.4-percent average for the year. With no district leaks, he said they would have to investigate the possibilities further.

During the public comment period, resident Sue Nash raised questions about the board’s use of closed sessions to conduct business that should be done in public, the necessity for so many special meetings, and IWD’s oversight of the Idyllwild Brewpub’s waste and its impact on the district’s sewer facility.

She stated that the board is discussing district goals under the guise of a performance review for Hoagland. Besides the lack of an immediate need for special meetings, she objected to the tendency to schedule them “… on Monday morning when the least number of residents will be able to attend because most of us work.”