Work starts in July, continues to fall

At its June 21 meeting, the Fern Valley Water District Board of Directors welcomed Jim Gates as the new member. Gates was appointed earlier this month to replace George Rowell who resigned in April.
The board approved a contract with El-Co Contractors of San Bernardino to replace and install new pipelines in the Rim Rock and Azalea neighborhoods.
El-Co was the only firm to bid on the contract and its original bid was $1.45 million. Victor Jimenez, general manager, had estimated the project would cost about $1 million.
In a 4-1 vote, the board approved signing a $1.23 million contract. The $220,000 difference is El-Co’s estimate of the cost for bedding (soil), shading and backfill material to complete the project. This was dropped in anticipation that Idyllwild Water District may have soil for FVWD and Pine Cove Water District may have some areas of soil and rocky material.
If added costs arise, Jimenez said that change orders would be used to modify the contract, but the $1.45 initial submission would be the cap.
Director Jim Rees voted against issuing the contract because there was only one bidder. However, Director Robert Krieger, who participated by teleconference, voted for it and added that a second firm participated in the pre-bid conferences, but elected not to submit a bid.
El-Co will start work in July and Jimenez estimates the project will be completed in October.
The board unanimously adopted its fiscal year 2019-20 budget. While the operating costs are projected to be about $925,000, which is nearly $600,000 less than expected revenues, the capital budget plan is for $1.86 million.
The pipeline project is included for the full bid amount of $1.45 million. The other large capital projects are continuing the fire hydrant upgrade ($146,000) and installing three new pressure reducing stations ($150,000).
If all the estimates are accurate, FVWD reserves will decrease by $1.3 million in FY 2019-20. Next July, the balance would be about $620,000. But a minimal capital program is planned for FY 2020-21. Jimenez told Gates the reserves would then begin to be restored.
In his operations report to the board, Jimenez said May production, especially from wells, had fallen from previous months. Both Strawberry and Tahquitz creeks were flowing strongly and, “Surface water availability is far above demand at this time.”
Mike Feyder, president of Mountain Disaster Preparedness, told the board that the disaster assistance shelter, which the board had approved last year, was ready to be opened. With the help of Idyllwild Rotary, MDP plans a community event on Saturday, July 20.
Beginning July 1, customers who pay their FVWD water bill with credit cards will have a service fee of about 3.5 percent added to the payment.