Annexation of properties into sewer system deferred

General Manager Jack Hoagland told the Idyllwild Water District board that he has ordered equipment to eliminate the organic matter apparently in the district’s Foster Lake water. Once installed, this should result in reducing the disinfection by-products, which are produced from the chlorine’s interaction with the organic matter.

“It should be delivered by the end of year,” Hoagland said. “Unfortunately, it’s not on-the-shelf equipment and has to be manufactured.”

Until the granulated carbon activation equipment can be installed, Hoagland has been using less water from the Foster Lake wells and relying more on IWD’s downtown wells.

This step has reduced the DBP concentration, which are trihalomethanes (such as chloroform) and haloacetic acids that are formed from the reaction between chlorine, the purification chemical, and natural organic material in the water.

Hoagland showed the board and public the latest water test results. At the Lower Pine Crest site, where the DBP concentrations have consistently been the highest and exceeding the maximum limits, the Sept. 10 result was 14 for TTHM and 5.6 for HAA. While still the highest in the district, these readings were much lower than July’s 72 and 44 levels, and well below the maximum limits of 80 and 60, respectively.

The GAC will cost about $100,000, which is less than the amount the board approved in August.

“We approved an amount and this is well under it,” confirmed Director David Hunt. “Wish it could be more expeditious timing, but we can’t wait to investigate every dollar here and there.”

After a question from Idyllwild resident Tom Paulek about the August approval, President Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly left the meeting. Paulek described the August action as “flagrant Brown Act violation” since the agenda did not identify the board’s intention to vote on acquiring equipment to remove the high DBP levels.

Trudy Levy asked if continuing to use the downtown wells would solve the problem without needing to acquire the GAC equipment. But Hosny Shouman, IWD’s chief financial officer,
replied that the Foster Lake water, when clean, is much less expensive than pumping the downtown wells, which are deep and require more electricity.

The rest of the board asked Hoagland to proceed with the purchase and eliminate the DBP issue.

The board deferred a decision on whether to annex three lots on Marion View Drive into the wastewater system. The properties are within the water district, but not on the sewer system.

Adding three more residential properties should have minimal effect on the waste treatment facility, Hoagland said.

However, he said there should be some sort of annexation fee comparable to the property owners who have been paying the sewer district a standby fee for decades. He recommended a $4,375 fee for each property, which would need to be approved through a Proposition 218 process.

But first, the board must decide whether it is willing to add more properties to the sewer system’s capacity. Director Steve Kunkle recommended the board table this issue and ask for more information about the potential effect on the sewer system from undeveloped lots already within the sewer system.

In another limited issue, Hoagland recommended relief for the property owners on Deerfoot Lane, who lost their residences from the Cranston Fire. He said the district could remove the meters until they were ready to rebuild, then re-install them at no cost. The revenue loss over three years might be $1,350, Hoagland estimated. The board concurred.

In other business, the board set a public hearing for Nov. 21 on a new water-shortage contingency plan and related drought rates. Ordinance 64, the current policy for implementing water conservation measures, including conditions during droughts, will be discussed at the Oct. 17 meeting.

Also, the committee that is composed of directors Hunt and Kunkle and was created in August to begin exploration for a new general manager requested a special board meeting for Sept. 26 to complete the revised job description and agree to the plan to advertise the position.

During August, IWD produced 10.8 million gallons. This was 1.5 million more than in August 2017 and 600,000 more gallons than in July. For the first eight months of the year, IWD total production has been 63.7 million gallons, which is 2.4 percent or 1.5 million gallons greater than the same period in 2017. For the year, total production, based on past usage, could approach 94 million gallons, which is the largest amount of water produced since 2009.

For the first two months of the fiscal year, which began July 1, revenues have exceeded costs by nearly $60,000.