Briceland Works to Improve Fish Habitat

A water diversion back into Redwood Creek tributary Miller Creek has yielded “the greatest improvement for fish habitat in Redwood Creek in decades,” Briceland Community Services District operator Harold Neufeld reported at the district’s April 7 board meeting.

Neufeld told directors that the district’s water diversion back into Miller Creek had been stabilized at 35 pounds of line pressure. “All water not needed for district consumption is now returned to the creek,” Neufeld said. “This is the greatest improvement for fish habitat in Redwood Creek in decades because we’d been wasting so much water with the way it was set up.”

He noted that about 25 gallons a minute was flowing back into the creek and clarified that the water goes back into the same water source it is diverted from.

In addition, Neufeld told the board that when he checked that day the water was flowing at a rate “higher than we can measure.” He reported that due to diligent efforts by the district’s volunteer operators, the water quality remained excellent even through the very rainy winter weather.

‘The System Works Good’

A motion to hire Matt Clifford and his company Trout Unlimited for a feasibility study failed due to a tie vote. Board members Chestine Anderson and Sarah Harmon voted in favor of hiring Clifford for the study, board president Al Karl and member Linda Feretto voted against. Board member Genairo Gray was absent.

The board and Neufeld discussed the proposal and other options at length before it was put to a vote.

“These were his three points,” Anderson said to the board of Clifford’s proposal in the prior discussion, “To ensure future water security of the Briceland Community Services District customers, ensuring security of the district water rights and permitting, and then finally looking for opportunities to minimize the district’s impact on stream flow.”

Anderson called Clifford’s proposal a three-pronged approach that would look at the feasibility of getting a grant to increase district water storage and help them with their water rights. She said the feasibility study would not cost the district anything other than time spent on applying. Anderson was in favor of the proposal because she said that the district needed to hire the engineers who could “think outside the box.”

Harmon and Feretto expressed reservations about Trout Unlimited.

“We’ve had hours of salesmanship and I just don’t trust it,” Feretto said.

In the discussion it was mentioned that last year Garberville Sanitary District general manager Ralph Emerson had suggested a more simple storage plan of cascading smaller tanks that would increase storage, keep water fresh, and still maintain the gravity flow that makes the BCSD system unique.

Previously the board had taken steps to increase district drinking water storage when they had purchased two 5,000-gallon water tanks during a system improvement project. However, during work that was done on the district’s non-potable fire water storage tank, the new tanks were connected to the fire protection system instead of the drinking water system.

After the tie vote caused the Trout Unlimited Feasibility Study motion to fail, Karl concluded, “The system works good, we don’t need nothing else.”

Easement

Neufeld pointed out that a top priority for water security was to secure the district’s easement to their water source. The board looked at an easement agreement from 1990 that Peter Ryce of Beginnings Inc. had written for the district. In exchange for a hook up for Beginnings, David Katz would grant the district easement to the water source the Briceland system had used since its inception long before Katz had acquired the property.

Neufeld noted that though Beginnings was given a hookup and Katz had benefited from the district’s work, Katz had not signed the easement. Anderson was chosen by the board to approach Katz and request he finally sign it.

After the meeting, Katz said in an interview that Ryce had come to him late last year and asked Katz to sign the agreement. Katz said he gave Ryce an amended agreement he was willing to sign, but had not heard back from the board about it.

Assessment

The board spent time filling out a Drinking Water System Technical, Management and Financial Capacity Assessment (TMF) supplied by Richard Culp of Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC). The TMF asked 60 detailed questions about the district’s financial management, and technical and managerial oversight.

After the meeting Anderson explained the purpose of the TMF. “RCAC uses it to determine how well they’ve done their job in helping the district become more current in their practices,” she said. She added that RCAC was asked to help the board establish the district’s water rights, map the district’s assets, develop a capital improvement plan, and initiate a rate study.

Anderson told the board that Culp suggested that the district should develop a long-term strategic plan. She said one aspect of that would be to create a budget, and she provided the board with a preliminary budget for 2016-2017 that projected income and interest of $6,440 and expenses of $4,175 for the year.

The board looked at a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between BCSD and the Briceland Volunteer Fire Department that Feretto drafted as a result of past board discussions. The board was happy with the wording, but did not vote to approve because there are attachments that still needed to be finalized of a map or description of the Briceland township and contacts.

Note: Sandy Feretto’s sister, Linda Feretto, serves on the board of the Briceland Community Services District.