The last week’s Idyllwild Water District (IWD) Board of Directors meeting, both General Manager Leo Havener and Chief Financial Officer Hosny Shouman told the board that a glitch in a software program resulted in the district losing about 20% of data while transferring from the old meter to the new meter system. The lost data the two said cannot be recovered, Shouman estimates, meant IWD lost between $25,000 and $30,000 in income.
The total system “loss” for May was 29% or 330,116 cubic feet of water unaccounted for.
“How many people didn’t get billed?” President Dr. Charles Schelly asked. Havener said everyone got billed but the readings were not all accurate.
At the meeting, Havener estimated that 20 or fewer new meters were yet to be installed of just under 1,700. Some of the meters have required plumbing repairs to be installed. If plumbers are required to repair, IWD reimburses them. In May, IWD’s budget was $200 for water maintenance and supplies. In actuality, it cost $10,825 for reimbursements to plumbers.
A few months ago, IWD had a storage tank repaired. “Where did we drain it?” Schelly asked. “We drained to the street,” Havener answered. “Why did we not capture the water?” Schelly asked. Havener explained that the repair personnel were coming up the Hill in a short three-day period and IWD had nowhere to put it.
“Is there any way we can plan to empty a tank into usage?” Schelly asked. Havener said he would look into preparing to do so in the future.
IWD produced 1,838,264 cubic feet of water in May, 1,281,210 from Foster Lake wells and 557,054 cubic feet from downtown wells. Lilly and Strawberry creeks are no longer flowing.
The board tabled its water shortage contingency plan. Havener said staff is “still in the process of putting all the data together but it is a time crunch. But we still have to do it.”
Vice President Peter Szabadi asked that it be postponed for the next meeting to discuss but Havener said, “That’s not going to happen.”
In discussing whether to increase rates during a drought, Havener said, “I’m not recommending we increase rates … We’re going to go out of it [Stage 2] as fast as we moved into it. Also, because of the glitch, I don’t want to add this to it.” Stage 2 requests customers to reduce water usage by 10%.
Schelly told the audience in attendance that the community is very concerned about water shortages “and we are very concerned, too.” He pointed out the lack of a snowpack in the wilderness for the past couple of years and even though IWD has an abundance of water right now, “we know that our water supplies may go down … We want to be able to supply water well into the next century.”
The board also tabled its housing stipend policy, a benefit policy for employees residing within 6 miles of the district.
The surveyor has completed his part and submitted the documents to IWD for the new wastewater treatment plan. Havener said the next step is property negotiations with Idyllwild Arts Foundation.
Schelly had requested an equipment asset list that Havener provided. Directors and staff ran through a list of vehicle and rubber tire to discuss disposing of certain vehicles no longer in use or operable.
After Szabadi opened a discussion of the budget with an adamant refusal to approve any office construction listed in the budget, a $150,000 line item, Schelly asked him, “What would you see that at?” Szabadi responded, “Zero.”
The capital expenditure is not one of the high priorities on the list and Shouman said, “We may have to do it next year if it is more than $150,000.” The primary area for construction is in Havener and Shouman’s working areas. “The interior walls are rotting,” Havener said.
Director Les Gin said, “The building is in very bad shape.” IWD has searched for other buildings to possibly purchase. “We looked and couldn’t find anything,” Havener said.
“There is no plan and you don’t know what you’re going to do. How did you come up with this number?” Szabadi said. Havener told him it was a guestimate from contractors — rough estimates.
Despite his objections, Szabadi approved the budget along with the three other directors present (Steve Kunkle was absent) 4-0. Total water and sewer revenue is expected to be $3,112,178; expenditures $2,302,586; capital improvements $1,492,000; and a net fund deficit of $589,493 for a drop in the reserve fund from $3 million to $2,317,592.
Gin had been forced to leave his home within the IWD boundaries when the owner sold it. He eventually found another home but it is within Fern Valley Water District boundaries. He has 180 days in which to resign from IWD.