While the Cranston Fire burned mostly south and east of Idyllwild, its consequences still affected the Fern Valley Water District.

At the Aug. 17 meeting, General Manager Victor Jimenez reported that July’s water production was more than 6.1-million gallons, “way up.” In comparison, production for both May and June combined was 6.9 million. The normal production for July and August combined is about 8-million gallons.

Jimenez was not able to state how much water firefighters used. A large leak did occur during the fire. It was the result of a someone turning the hydrant off too quickly and the pressure caused breakage.

“[The leak] was pretty substantial, as much as 25 gallons per minute for awhile,” he said.

“It’s an age-old problem — having fire persons knowledgeable enough about pressure differences and how to close a hydrant,” observed Director Robert Krieger.

The board had some discussion about arranging training for firefighters on the use of hydrants on the Hill. However, Jimenez felt the local firefighters understood that hydrants here have much higher water pressure than the flows below the mountain.

“There were so many different departments here, they don’t realize shutting down a hydrant that quickly can cause damage,” he stated.

Jimenez also reported that the district will need to purchase another generator for its office. The current generator could not run all the equipment. When a new one is acquired, this equipment will be moved to the shop, he added.

Fortunately, tanks were full and FVWD had nearly 6 million gallons of water available if firefighters needed more.

The fiscal year 2017-18 initial final budget showed a positive result. Revenues were about $100,000 greater than last year’s expenditures. Revenues grew nearly $150,000 with greater water use and the mid-year rate increase. Property taxes were nearly $80,000 greater than the initial estimates.

Expenditures were up $240,000 and attributable to the payoff of the district’s post-employment health expenses. Another similar payment will be made this year.

Jimenez also reported that there were some problems at the district’s treatment plant last month, which have been resolved. However, he has someone developing software to indicate immediately when a problem may develop, since the equipment is approaching 10 years in age.

The board did approve acquiring different probes for the chlorine analyzers since the current supplier has stopped manufacturing them. These will cost about $6,000. If new analyzers are needed, their cost may be more than $40,000.

And plans are underway to inspect the district’s water-storage tanks with divers and then begin a cleaning process.

The other issue discussed was the proposed office expansion. “I’ve gotten some quotes but they are about four times what we budgeted,” he told the board. Director Jim Rees will work with Jimenez to try to find contractors more interested in the work.

Idyllwild Water District customers have been urging IWD to consider options for greater cooperation, if not consolidation, with the other two Hill water districts — Pine Cove and FVWD. While the San Jacinto Watershed Watchdog group did send an email to FVWD, which was on the agenda, no one from the group came to the meeting.

IWD’s Director Les Gin attended and detailed the IWD Consolidation Committee’s purpose. “We’re inviting the different districts for a joint effort on what we can do to unite together and protect the common watershed.”

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