GM concerned about dry winter

The Pine Cove Water District directors approved a resolution changing the election of directors from odd-numbered years to even years

Pine Cove Water District Directors Lou Padula (left) and Robert Hewitt take the oath of office from Becky Smith, office manager, administered, at the Dec. 13 meeting.
Photo courtesy Pine Cove Water District

beginning in 2020.

Senate Bill 415 passed and signed in September 2015 prohibits political jurisdictions from holding an election other than during a statewide general election if prior off-year elections resulted in too low of a voter turnout. This restriction begins next month, January 2018. Low-voter turnout is considered 25 percent less than the average turnout for the previous four statewide general elections.

In Pine Cove, turnout for the water district’s elections is typically a half to one-third of turnout for presidential or gubernatorial elections. Thus, the board is complying with SB 415 and the first even-year election will be 2020.

“What jumps out to me is the need to be ready to extend our terms an extra year,” said President Robert Hewitt. “Some people will be more encouraged to vote in presidential elections and it won’t cost us any more.”

While the resolution says the next election will be November 2018, none of the current directors has a term that expires before or near that date. Three directors —Lou Padula, Joel Palmer and Hewitt — were all re-elected four months ago in August.

The terms of directors Diana Luther and Vicki Jakubac expire in December 2019. They will be extended one year and stand for re-election in November 2020. The three directors elected this year also will have an extra year added to their terms and stand for re-election in November 2022 rather than August 2021.

Although General Manager Jerry Holldber reported that the district’s water supply was in good condition, a continuation of the dry weather may evoke a Stage 2 Water Emergency later this winter.

“Water levels are still OK, but we’ve only had one good year,” he stated. “We may need to cut back and I won’t wait until next May to tell customers to conserve.”

During November, the PCWD water production was 2.6 million gallons, 210,000 more than November 2016. For the first 11 months of 2017, production has been about 4.7 million gallons more than the same period in 2017.

The groundwater level of PCWD’s monitoring well rose 2 feet in November after several months of no change. “Water is still coming through the ground,” he noted.

For the two-month billing period, water loss was about 8.2 percent. For the past 12 months, the unaccounted-for water totaled 5.9 million gallons, Holldber reported, but that includes the estimated 2.4 million gallons stolen for marijuana groves.

“Take that away and the loss would be less than 10 percent,” he told the board. “That is not bad but not as good as I’d like to do.”

Early in 2018, Holldber, with the district’s consulting engineer John Egan, plans a presentation on the cost of water production and possible changes to the water rates and fees, he informed the board.

“It will be a new foundation for water costs and a plan for future delivery and new meter charges,” he said. He is also preparing a five-year spending plan with line-replacement goals. The new rate structure may propose elimination of a tier, he indicated.