RCSD Working to Increase Service Capacity

The Redway Community Services District (RCSD) Board of Directors discussed efforts to provide services for new customers at its regular meeting on March 16.

In 2014, in response to requests from potential new customers, RCSD hired Water Works Engineers to complete a systems capacity analysis. The report, completed in August of 2014, stated that the district was at or near capacity for both water and wastewater service.

At the March 16 meeting, district general manager John Rogers said that in the year and a half since the capacity analysis was completed RCSD had received a number of requests for new connections or modifications to existing connections. District board and staff are looking at steps to expand their service capacity.

The Spring

The district wants to develop an unnamed spring that has not been used as a water supply in years. They have been working to acquire more property around the spring and upgrade the infrastructure.

David Walsh, a Redway resident, addressed the board about the unnamed spring, which was listed last on the agenda. The board heard his concerns and discussed the item with him briefly at the beginning of the meeting.

“I feel strongly that there is not much water in that spring to take for the waterfall without causing significant adverse environmental impacts to the resources that are there, which are cold water to the pool beneath the waterfall. I don’t think a lot of people know that those two items are connected,” Walsh said.

Rogers responded that the spring had been an identified source for Redway’s water since the 1930s and the district has a permit from the State Water Resources Control Board Division of Water Rights to use .123 cubic feet per second, or 52 acre feet per year from the spring. Board members Linda Sutton and Art McClure said that in the past the waterfall was not affected by Redway’s use of the spring.

Walsh recommended the district acquire more storage instead of using the spring, and he gave Rogers a list of possible funding sources to obtain more water tanks.

Currently the district’s water source is an infiltration gallery on the South Fork Eel River.

Later in the meeting the board returned to discussion about district’s potential use of the spring as a supplemental water source.

Rogers pointed out the estimated cost for improving and implementing the spring was about $250,000. He commented that the alternative, if the board chose not to use the spring, would be to buy another water storage tank and a new clarifier for the water treatment plant, and together that would cost the district about $1 million.

Rogers asked the board whether he should begin to apply for a California Department of Fish and Wildlife Lake and Streambed Alteration Permit that will probably be required for the work at the spring. There was discussion of whether the district should, or would be permitted to, withdraw water from the spring during the summer. Board president Michael McKaskle pointed out that using the spring would be helpful in the winter when storms sometimes caused turbidity problems in treatment of river water, but Rogers said the spring would be needed during the high-use summer months.

When asked whether an environmental impact report would be required, Rogers said the district would comply with California Environmental Quality Act requirements, but hoped that in an initial study there could be a negative declaration.

The board talked about how use of the spring might impact the environment.

Rogers reported that he had recently spoken with Jane Arnold of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who had several concerns.

“She quoted to me that we said at the time that they approved our access to the river to fix the infiltration gallery that we were abandoning the spring because it was not economical. That is what Ken told us at the time,” said Rogers, who was on the board at the time the district needed to upgrade the infrastructure in the river. That process was begun in 2007 and completed in 2010, he said.

Rogers said he explained to Arnold that the district now had an increase in demand for water service, and the technology for treating water at the spring had become more efficient and economical.

“There was sort of a sense that because they gave us the infiltration gallery which gave us all this additional capacity that we shouldn’t be needing the spring and that somehow that was the deal we made, but I don’t recall that it was,” Rogers said.

The board directed Rogers to contact a water rights specialist who was recommended by the district’s attorney, David McMurchie.

Board member Art McClure, whose family owns the property near the spring that the district may acquire, left the building during discussions about the spring due to a potential conflict of interest.

Wastewater Service

Rogers presented a report from district consultant Ken Dean that reevaluated the wastewater treatment capacity for additional service connections. Rogers reported that Dean and district staff had made some changes at the waste treatment plant that were recommended in the capacity analysis.

“There were recommended changes in the way the waste treatment plant was being operated,” Rogers said, “and it has resulted in better outcomes.” Rogers told the board that the summary of Dean’s report stated that the district can probably meet the new state standards for nitrogen loading and also add “additional regular home-type waste connections” to the system. Dean’s report included some calculations on the percentages of impact on treatment capacity for various numbers of new connections. Rogers provided a list, without names, of six new customer inquiries that could result in a total of up to 50 new single-family residence (SFR) equivalents.

Rogers reported staff had gathered information from potential new customers and presented charts showing potential impacts of connections of current water treatment capacity using the draft SFR equivalent units of measurement that had recently been suggested by Water Works Engineers.