The Fern Valley Water District board held its April meeting by teleconference. The board received updates on how the district is dealing with COVID-19, the status of the pipeline replacement project, a pump failure at well 11, water loss and the potential for establishing a payment plan policy.

All field employees are working independently to reduce any spread of COVID-19. Initially, the employees in the field were home for a few weeks. The district’s General Manager Victor Jimenez and Office Manager Jessica Priefer are both working in the office but following social distancing guidelines. 

The pipeline replacement project’s contract amount with El-Co Contractors, Inc. was for “$1,230,050.00 with an additional $220,000 approved for extra work resulting from the additional rock work,” wrote Jimenez in an email. “To date, $818,387.65 has been paid toward the contract with an additional $77,993.57 toward the additional work.” 

Jimenez told the newspaper there will be at least one more payment for some finish work on the project. 

“I think we will come in considerably under budget,” said Jimenez. “They are a really good company.” 

There was a pump failure at well 11. The pump was replaced and was paid for out of reserves because it was not in the budget. The total cost of the pump was $26,303.51. Jimenez said during the meeting that he felt it was necessary to get that well back online so that the water is available for any potential fires and considered it critical. 

“Well production is dependent on many different factors, especially up here where they are pulling water from fractured rock as opposed to flat land wells that share large aquifers with an abundance of water,” explained Jimenez. “Well 11, for whatever reason, is a high yielding well for our district in comparison to the other wells, most likely due to the rock formation that it is drilled into. It is approximately 410 feet deep. Just as a point of reference, my wells where I came from in the San Gabriel Valley were 950 gpm – 3000 gpm, our best producers up here are 75 gpm-95 gpm.”

The district experienced two major incidents of water loss — one in March and one in April. The leaks went undetected due to the snow melting, making it difficult for Jimenez to determine when the loss began. 

The district does not have a policy regarding payment plans and is looking into establishing one. Currently, the district does not charge late fees or interest. The district is willing to work with customers as long as they communicate. The district is urging customers to continue to watch their water consumption. The district does not want customers, who are financially impacted by COVID-19, getting into a situation with high water bills when the pandemic is over.