The Idyllwild Water District (IWD) Board of Directors February meeting was the district’s second attempt to hold its meeting via Zoom. The district, after a failed first attempt in January, was able to successfully hold a February meeting via Zoom. All five directors were present.
Public hearing set for May
The board voted to “set a date of May 19, 2021 for a public hearing for water and sewer stand-by assessment fees for Fiscal Year 2021-22 for undeveloped parcels within the IWD (water service area) and improvement district No. 1 (sewer service area).”
Included in the staff report is as follows: “In order to equitably allocate costs for benefits received by having water and/or sewer service available to undeveloped parcels, IWD has for decades imposed a Stand-by Fee on unimproved lots within the water service area or improvement district No. 1 (sewer service area). The fees of $30 per acre are not proposed to change and will be collected on the unified property tax bill issued by Riverside County.”
General Manager Leo Havener discussed the update, (the first major update in 30 years) to the Lead and Copper Rule finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Dec. 22, 2020. Currently, it is set to take effect March 16. The update, per the EPA, requires “community water systems test for lead in drinking water in elementary schools and child care facilities that they serve.” Before this update, a federal requirement was not in place. The “water system is also required to provide timely results along with information about the actions the elementary school or child care facility can take to reduce lead in drinking water.”
According to Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program student research assistant Daniel Eyal, JD 2023, “The Biden EPA can delay that date in order to reconsider the rule, i.e., drafting proposed revisions that will then go through the notice-and-comment rulemaking process. However, the delay must be rea- sonable and follow the relevant requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act.”
Havener also stated that the water supply is trending back up.
District settled lawsuit with former GM
The district recently settled a lawsuit filed by former IWD General Manager Michael Creighton on Jan. 31, 2020 for $30,000. Creighton signed the settlement agreement Dec. 15, 2020. Creighton originally sued the district for $578,476. The district is paying out the settlement through insurance.
Creighton filed the wrongful termination lawsuit against IWD based on alleged violations of the California Government Code’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Labor Code January of last year. The complaint set forth two causes of action, each alleged the IWD board of directors unlawfully terminated him from his general manager position in retaliation for actions he took in opposition to harassment of female co-workers. The lawsuit also alleged that some of the district’s board members violated the Brown Act.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleged Creighton “was terminated as a result of plaintiff’s opposition to unlawful practices engaged in by [Hosny] Shouman [chief financial officer], and the board with regard to perceived violations of the Brown Act.” It also alleged that if it were “not for the unlawful termination, plaintiff would have continued working at least four more years.”
The IWD board voted to terminate Creighton’s employment contract Sept. 25, 2019 in a special closed-session meeting.