Fern Valley Water District (FVWD) has been in Stage 3 since September 2021, Pine Cove Water District has been in Stage 2 since Feb. 1 and Lake Hemet Municipal Water District just restated its water conservation program since August 2015.
On March 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order urging water agencies to take more actions to conserve water supplies.
Idyllwild Water District (IWD) has been the only hold-out on the Hill, saying it had plenty of water and did not need to conserve. However, Wednesday, May 18, due to public pressure, General Manager Leo Havener agreed to go into Stage 2 effective Wednesday, June 1.
Former IWD Director Dave Hunt has repeatedly attended board meetings hammering a point: that IWD, based on its own stage criteria, should have gone into Stage 2 back in August based on demand. Stage 2 requires the IWD demand to be between 51% and 60% for three consecutive months. Demand was at 55% in May, 56% in June and 66% in July.
In order to drop back to Stage 1, the demand would need to be 5% or more below the threshold of 0% to 50% for Stage 1 for two consecutive months. It only did that in November 2021 at 43%.
“The wells are in great shape. The static well is above average. It’s kind of hard to justify,” said Havener, though he agreed to find the signs and post them around town.
IWD is developing a new water policy to determine when to go into stages.
IWD supplied 1,086,675 cubic feet to its system in April and sold 999,270 cubic feet. The district saw an 8% water loss. Of water supplied, 99,000 cubic feet came from the Strawberry Creek diversion. Foster Lake has been nearly empty for several years due to drought.
Most of the water came from eight wells — four at Foster Lake, two in Fern Valley, one on Golden Rod and one on Stratton property.
A leak at the IWD office required 20 feet of pipe to be replaced. Another 20-foot section will be replaced in the future.
While FVWD reported a big decrease in water sales this year compared to last year, IWD reported an increase of 24.9% over 21.3% last year. FVWD General Manager Victor Jimenez could not explain the drop but thought it was possibly due to fewer people because of COVID restrictions being lifted. Havener supposed the reason of the increase was due to lifting of COVID restrictions, however, IWD does serve the majority of business customers on the Hill.
Havener pointed out in his report to the board that water supplies to the system are showing no big spikes either up or down between July 2012 and now. He said IWD will be “close to average by the end of the year.”
The preliminary design efforts are ongoing with the new Wastewater Treatment Plant. A formalized computer-aided design was expected to be completed last Friday so IWD could offer a figure to negotiate a land transfer to Idyllwild Arts Academy.
An easement needs to be acquired for the new Strawberry Creek Diversion Project. At the moment, the tape wrapped around is hanging off the pipes. “Engineering design will begin once [California Environmental Quality Act report] is completed, and an easement has been acquired,” wrote Havener in his report.
The board unanimously agreed 3-0 to hire Terra Nova Planning and Research Inc. to prepare the report at $23,195. This agreement came toward the end of the meeting when Director Les Gin, who was teleconferencing, had lost contact. Vice President Peter Szabadi was absent.
As of the meeting, about 1,000 new radio water meters had been installed with 600 to 700 to go. A customer complained to the Town Crier that his water rates have gone up significantly. IWD attributed this mainly to bad readings from the old meters, though it could mean the customer has a leak or could be another issue.
The board held a public hearing to consider water and sewer standby assessments for fiscal year 2022-23 for undeveloped parcels and the sewer service area. The fee of $30 per acre did not change. Both rates passed unanimously 4-0 with Szabadi absent.
The board reviewed the proposed fiscal year 2022-23 budget. President Charles Schelly tabled a vote on the budget for next month to give directors time to review it.
Total revenues proposed are $3,112,178 with expenses proposed at $2,222,586. IWD expects its reserve fund balance to be $2,317,692.