Much of the Fern Valley Water District (FVWD) Board of Directors meeting Friday morning was spent bringing new directors Kevin Scott and Chrissie Teeling up to speed on FVWD operations.
In discussing FVWD warrants, General Manager (GM) Victor Jimenez and Assistant GM Jessica Priefer explained to directors the costs of Southern California Fuels’ deliveries. Priefer noted that the cost had dropped. Jimenez said FVWD receives a discount for buying fuel locally from this company. The last cost was $5.01 per gallon for diesel and $4.82 per gallon for gasoline. The cost for delivery was $9.92. They receive delivery every three months and Jimenez said he has been using this company for two or two-and-half years because the cost of delivery was so low.
This month, Pine Cove Water District (PCWD) directors rejected an amendment to a Riverside County agreement that would charge PCWD $300 for delivery every three months.
FVWD’s California Employers’ Retiree Benefit Trust (CERBT) was fully funded a few years ago, Jimenez said, and gives better yield than the Local Agency Investment Fund with a yield of 0.75%. The balance is $1,171,193 as of Aug. 15, 2022, compared to $1,283,102 on Aug. 16, 2021. So, CERBT has increased $70,300 from the previous month at a yield of 6.4%.
In his GM report, Jimenez noted that he had left the Hill the night before but had to return and call back the crew when a big leak was discovered on Strong Drive. He said it was a hydrant lateral without a valve. A hydrant lateral is the pipe and fittings that run between the main water line and a fire hydrant.
“We got it repaired by about 8 o’clock at night,” he said. It was leaking at about 10 to 15 gallons a minute. “It leaked 30 to 50 gallons per minute when we opened it up,” he said.
“It hasn’t been a problematic line.” It is a directly melded T right into the main line, he told the board.
In the budget discussion, Priefer pointed out that Riverside County tax income has increased during the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The budgeted figure was $750,000 but it has increased to $820,584 because of home sales, she said. She told the board that the county sends two large checks a year, one in December and one in May. (This is the same with the other districts on the Hill.) Throughout the year, late payments trickle in, too.
Because of the recent storms, FVWD is able to take more water from Strawberry and Tahquitz creeks. Director Jon Brown explained to the new directors that it is much cheaper to take water out of the ground because wells require pumps. Over the past few months, FVWD has installed timers on all the well pumps so they do not operate during peak hours. Jimenez said wells 13 and 14 are still waiting for parts so FVWD is not using those wells. He said the electric bill has dropped from almost $1,000 to about $35 to run the pumps.
Scott asked about installing solar. The staff and board in the past have considered and investigated using solar. Jimenez said, “Solar doesn’t work for water because we’d have to build large solar fields to pull enough solar.”
Jimenez also told the board that Brown gave him a heads-up that ordering ductile, the iron pipe FVWD uses, is taking a year to receive once ordered. He said it used to take six weeks. He said FVWD prefers ductile over PVC pipe because, even though PVC is a lot cheaper and faster to receive, it can be destroyed easily when companies such as Edison accidentally dig it up when working in FVWD.
Administrative staff have been meeting with El-Co Contractors to discuss next year’s pipeline project and materials delays, as well as working on that project’s drawings and specs.