Editor’s note: At its March 21 meeting, the Idyllwild Water District Board of Directors selected David Hunt as the fifth director. He
replaces Geoffrey Caine, who resigned in January. Since Hunt did not campaign for the position, the Town Crier interviewed him so the community would have some knowledge of the new water director.
He will have to stand for election in 2020 for the final two years of the term.
Hunt is truly an Idyllwild native. He called himself a “Hillbilly” at the board meeting. His parents, Bud and Barbara Hunt, have lived here for decades. Barbara was born in Idyllwild.
“Being on the Idyllwild board feels personal,” Hunt said. “I have responsibility for it’s running well and to be there for the community.”
Hunt’s affinity for the water district and devotion for community service comes from his family’s history of service. His father was the first fire chief at Idyllwild Fire Protection District and his grandfather was general manager of the Idyllwild Water District even before it became a public agency.
“I wish all of his knowledge was passed on to me biologically,” Hunt said wistfully. “And Idyllwild has given me a lot of wonderful childhood memories. Now I have time to give back.”
Retired from work in the private sector and with the Riverside County Office of Education, Hunt has already begun his public service. He is a fire lookout volunteer, and bikes and hikes trails to ensure homeless campers haven’t inadvertently started a fire.
Hunt’s two highest water priorities are tempering the natural variability of water revenue caused by conservation and monitoring the potential water demand of large, new development.
As customers conserve water usage during an extended drought period, they use less water, which generates less revenue for the district. This pattern Hunt understands; but he worries about the vicious circle. Since less usage generates less revenue, this could ultimately affect the quality of service, maintenance and development of new water sources.
Secondly, future development will create demand for more water. But Hunt has observed “less and less rainfall and snowfall each year. The current problem of less precipitation and more growth won’t work out well,” he warned.
“I don’t want to see large commercial development,” he continued. “I am not totally against the issuance of new meters, but we need to work with the fire department and county Building and Planning because some people are using the larger meters for fire sprinklers to expand the [size of their] homes.”
In essence, once a sprinkler system is installed and the district has provided the larger meter, some homeowners are adding rooms to the house without county permits, Hunt believes.
Hunt also expressed his pleasure about how smoothly the whole board has been working together. He also expressed his sadness that he joined the board after Caine died. He felt Caine added a lot of team building and insight to the board’s proceedings.
Hunt recognizes that IWD is quite different from its two neighbors — Fern Valley and Pine Cove water districts. IWD has a much larger commercial district to which it serves water, and a separate sewer district, which neither Pine Cove or Fern Valley must manage.
“But I’m looking forward to working with the other water districts, but consolidation is not one of my agenda issues,” he said.
Hunt is focusing on the district’s responsibility to serve its customers. He wishes the district had sufficient money to do all of the capital projects, recommended by General Manager Jack Hoagland. “But I think we need to be proactive in replacing the older lines before they break.”
And he was pleased to see that IWD has fairly large reserves since there has “not been a lot of improvement in the last few years.”