Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly and Peter Szabadi were unaminously re-elected president and vice president, respectively, of the Idyllwild Water District’s Board of Directors at the Jan. 17 board meeting. The vote was 4-0 with Director Geoffrey Caine absent.

In other business, the board approved a recommendation from Interim General Manager Jack Hoagland to engage a contractor to prepare a baseline survey of the pipeline along South Circle Drive from Bicknell Lane to Village Center Drive, and then from Village Center to North Circle Dr. He estimated the cost of the work to be about $18,300.

The pipe along these streets is from the 1950s, Hoagland said, and its replacement has been discussed as a priority project for several months. This was accelerated in January, when the Riverside County Department of Transportation notified IWD that it was planning to resurface several streets in the downtown area, including much of this project’s path.

Rather than replace the pipeline after the county resurfacing project and causing the road to be dug up again, Hoagland recommended starting the preparation work in order to be able to replace the pipeline in the fall of 2018.

“This line is not in particularly good shape,” Hoagland said. “It behooves our customers to do it before they repave.”

The vote was 3-1, with Director Steve Kunkle opposing the project. He preferred for the board to develop a more comprehensive capital-improvement plan rather than reacting piece meal.

“The board has not had a chance to get educated [about the capital-improvements program],” Kunkle said. “We’re jumping the gun. There might be other things to do related to the water study.”

Later in the meeting, during the discussion of a capital-improvements strategy, Kunkle favored more investment in water-supply projects.

“One of my priorities is, we’re a water district and need to be on top of water resources with accurate estimates and ready to use,” he said. “A lot of the water [facilities] haven’t been fixed for years.” He expressed his interest in ensuring the district’s wells were operational and available to supply water when needed.

In response, Hoagland cautioned the board about spending money on projects, such as refurbishing wells and then not using them. The money might be invested in more critical and timely projects, he advised.

Szabadi wanted to be sure the water supplies were sufficient if the lack of rain continued. The district might need added well resources. Hoagland replied, “Right now we have plenty of water.”

However, in response to whether the continuing dry weather might invoke a need for a Stage 2 Water Emergency, he replied, “On Stage 2, I have no ability to predict the future.”

In his Operations Report, Hoagland observed that the level of Foster Lake was 5.25 feet compared to its maximum of 18 feet. Also, the groundwater level of most wells remained unchanged from November except for the Foster Lake wells, where the level dropped about 4.5 feet.

During December, IWD produced 6.8 million gallons of water, which was nearly a million gallons more than in December 2016. For the year, the district’s water production totaled 91.2 million gallons, which was 12.8 percent greater than 2016. It also was the greatest production since 2013.

The district’s stored water is about 90 percent of capacity, according to Hoagland’s report.

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