Attached is the agenda and board package link for our Regular Helix Water District Board Meeting:
REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Wednesday, December 9, 2015 - 4 p.m.
7811 University Avenue, La Mesa, CA 91942-0427
CA Emergency Drought Update:
Monday, December 7, 2015 – Public Workshop State Water Resources Control Board (see agenda on pdf page 40)
I went to the workshop to hear and provide comments regarding the current Emergency Regulations and consideration of changes/modifications going forward on behalf of my constituents.
A little bit of history, on May 5, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board had a public hearing and voted to move forward with emergency regulations that mandated cutbacks throughout the state. I attended the Public Hearing in May and told the Board that we at Helix and had cut back on water over the years, had ample water resources, and we were prepared for the drought, and that the regulations should take into consideration of climate. The Board stated that they had to move forward immediately and would consider the concerns raised at a later date when/if the regulations would be extended.
California Regulators Order 25% Cut in Urban Water Use - WSJ www.wsj.com/articles/california-regulators-order-25-cut-in-urban-water-use-1430881575 May 5, 2015 ... Kathleen Hedberg, board member of San Diego County's Helix Water District, said water use in her agency, which faces a 20% cut, already ...
Yesterday’s meeting was for the SWRCB to listen to several panels who addressed concerns that were previously mentioned on May 5th (Climate, Growth, Recycled Water Adjustment and credits; Drought-Resilient Supply Credits; Groundwater and Regional Compliance Approach) and modify the regulations as they see fit. The panels evaluated the situation and had proposals on modifying the drought regulations. The Panels were each given 15 minutes to present their proposal. Then following the Panels the public comments were received which I spoke and gave my three minutes (that went very fast) on the impact here at Helix Water District.
My 3 Minutes (with much intensity and perhaps some finger waving - see pic below):
Good afternoon Chair Marcus, Board Members and staff…I am an elected board member for the Helix Water District, you may have remembered me as I commented at the public hearing on the emergency regulations in May and I had urged you to reconsider and modify the restrictions set forth for San Diego County as WE were prepared for this drought. Nonetheless, you went forward and my agency that serves drinking water to over 270,000 were required to conserve 20%.
- My customers have been cutting back for years, 2007-2015 down 22%. Low flush toilets, showerheads and replaced landscapes.
- Per capita use in 2013 was 114gpc and we are mandated to be at 92gpc.
- My customers have met the 20% mandate and are well above the mandate now at 27% as water use is not an exact science.
- Many have just let their yards go, trees and shrubs dying due to our warm area and nowhere left to cut back.
- San Diego County has 99% water supply availability and due to the current restrictions we cannot use the water that my customers need.
- Our County has invested in a billion dollar desal plant, recycled water, and planning recycled drinking water sources and increased our local storage at a price tag over $500 million.
- We also are 100% metered and many agencies have put in automated meters to help conservation, while in Sacramento many customers are not metered and that installation is being expedited as metering water supplies is a proven method of conservation!
- My constituents and Helix Water District customers are OUTRAGED and FRUSTRATED that they have paid for water supply, storage and reliability projects and we are being told to cut back on water use even when we have enough water as we prepared for drought times and the future.
- We increased our water rates over 100% in the past 10 years for investments! And the recent water rate increases that we just adopted could be more than another 50% in the next 5 years and this is due to anticipated state water reductions. We had over 550 protest letters and a room filled with over 200 people protesting our water rate increases.
- We are telling our customers to pay more and use less, much less, while we have 99% water available to meet local needs.
- Every gallon of new water we create should be credited against the conservation mandate accordingly.
- We should NOT be Penalized for investment and planning!!!
Well, I got Chair Marcus’s attention and she asked me a few questions, when was the rate hearing (October), and please explain the 99% water availability and asked for the San Diego County Water Authority Representative to come up and explain. Which SDCWA Board President and ironically, Helix Water District Past General Manager, Mark Weston responded and answered her questions and said, yes, SDCWA has ample enough water for the year and years to come etc. It was very rare that people who spoke were engaged, I think she got the San Diego County message as most speakers were from San Diego County.
The meeting ended at 5:10pm, there were only two Board Members left, Fran Spivy-Weber and Chair Marcus, they both spoke and said they appreciated the comments and look forward to more evaluation of information presented, needed more “real life” examples by the Panels, and would consider incorporation if it is easy and fair. However, Chair Marcus said that this is an emergency, and this is the Millennial Drought, in a marathon figure out what we can do in the short term and in the long run, and see what happens with the snowfall in April and she will talk to staff. Board Member Weber mentioned that there was no real outrage presented today about the regulations (WHAT???) and that there was no statement of how agencies are being more efficient (WHAT????), but she is concerned about the trees, Chair Marcus is also concerned about the trees and why the Agencies are not doing more to help the public with saving trees.
We will see a new draft regulation framework in January for comment as new regulations need to be re-issued in February as the mandatory 25 percent statewide reduction in potable urban water use was stated between June 2015 and February 2016..
Interesting Agenda Items:
Agenda Item 5c – Minutes (pdf page 36)
6. Board Decorum (from October 7, Water Rate Hearing)
Board decorum was discussed President Verbeke opened the discussion stating the item was placed on the agenda at the request of customer Susan Nichols. President Verbeke reviewed the transcription of the meeting and stated emotions ran high from both the public and the board of directors; she reviewed the policies and procedures manual; reviewed the meeting with the general manager and agreed that staff can ensure better seating and shorter presentations. President Verbeke asked the board to commit to follow the decorum standards as agreed to earlier in the year during a board workshop. Director Scalzitti stated he hoped for apologies and expressed that he felt efforts made by the public to protest a rate increase were discounted. Director Hedberg agreed that staff presentations were too long, more chairs were needed, and better conditions should have been provided. Director Hedberg referred to the transcription of the public hearing and stated that all protests were valid and requested Vice President Muse explain his comments made during the public hearing. Vice President Muse stated he had nothing to add to the minutes from the hearing.
Not much “discussion”, President Verbeke read a prepared speech and Director Muse stated he had nothing to add when addressed by Director Scalzitti and myself. Here is an article written about the calamity…
Agenda Item Info B – Drought Action Plan (pdf page 36)
- During the month of November we decreased water use 10% compared to 2013 and since June we have an overall cumulative decrease of 25% meeting the 20% California mandate on Helix. Page 328
Agenda Item 11 – Public Hearing at 5pm for the Policies and Procedures Manual Annual Review (pdf Page 109)
- Many changes were proposed and discussed at the November 4th meeting. All changes are in red.
- NEW Rebates for WATER TANKS (200+gallons - $300)! www.socalwatersmart.com
- Do you know a Middle or High School Student who wants to win $1500 (split between student(s) & school) for a VIDEO CONTEST on Special Districts – go to www.SanDiegoCSDA.Weebly.com for all the information (I am the Video Contest Chair – Deadline March 2016 – spread the word).
As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.