The Fern Valley Water District board last Friday directed General Manager Victor Jimenez to invite multiple firms to bid on the planned replacement of pipeline along Upper Rim Rock and Dogwood roads later this year.
Because the area is underlain with extensive rock and bedrock, Jimenez recommended working directly with El-Co Contractors of San Bernardino who have successfully installed pipeline for FVWD in the past.
With its experience, Jimenez felt El-Co could do the work with simpler plans instead of a more complete survey plan. Avoiding engineered plans and inspection service would reduce the project’s cost about $50,000, he argued.
“If we open bids to a full set of contractors, I’m concerned we’ll get a low-ball bid and hit for a ton of change orders,” Jimenez said.
Director Robert Krieger did not feel that a pipeline project requires full drawings. Rather, he recommended, before soliciting for bids, Jimenez meet with potential bidders, walk the area, and discuss the potential rock obstacles and how they would dispose of the debris.
“Every street has rocks. I can’t agree that these roads are different from others in the district,” noted Director James Rees, who felt strongly that Jimenez should obtain more than one bid.
“This is a huge part of our budget and could save thousands of dollars [by getting competition in the bids],” he argued.
Regardless of the process and ultimate contractor, Kreiger felt the district would need a pre-bid conference. After selecting a contractor, the district will need to devote time to monitoring the work and engaging with the contractor to ensure that unexpected change orders are submitted.
After further discussion, the board voted 4-1 to adopt a multiple-bid process. Director Richard Schnetzer felt comfortable with Jimenez’s recommendation so he opposed it.
In other board business, the current officers, President Trischa Clark, Vice President Schnetzer and Secretary Krieger were unanimously chosen to continue another year in the positions.
Clark appointed herself and Schnetzer to the budget and personnel committees, and Krieger and Rees to the planning committee.
In a surprise announcement, Director George Rowell announced that he and his family will be moving to Kansas later this winter or spring. He will eventually resign from his board seat, to which he was appointed in January 2018.
Few questions were asked about the district’s mid-year budget status, which is in good condition. After six months, expenses have been about $725,000, which is about $75,000 more than revenue during this period. However, more property taxes and water usage billing periods remain before June 30.
Major expenses remaining this fiscal year include the $250,000 payment for unfunded retiree health benefits, and capital investments for hydrants and pressure-reducing stations.
In water business, FVWD customers consumed nearly 5 million gallons of water in the billing period for November and December. This is about 360,000 gallons or 7.8 percent more water use than the same period in 2017.
For the whole year of 2018, consumption was 35.6 million gallons, which is about 108,000 gallons, or less than 1 percent, fewer gallons than in 2017. This is the first decline in consumption since 2015.
However, there was some concern that the unaccounted-for water was nearly 25 percent. Jimenez expressed reservations but said the figure was not necessarily accurate until the district replaces its water meters on its storage tanks and re-assesses the methodology for computing water usage.
The complication is that FVWD’s permit to divert surface water limits the months to which it can divert and when the tanks must be empty.

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