Garberville Sanitary District Sees Decrease in Water Loss

The Garberville Sanitary District board of directors considered comparisons of treated and metered water and discussed replacing the water line on Leino Lane at their April 26 meeting.

District general manager Ralph Emerson explained that water loss is the difference between water treated and water accounted for by the meters.

District office manager Tina Stillwell presented comparison charts she had compiled of data from January 2013 to March 2016 on water produced, water sold, and water lost.

Stillwell pointed out that water loss from January to March of 2016 was considerably less than the previous year, which she attributed to the replacement in October of the old, leaky Alderpoint Road water storage tank.

Emerson added that district staff is compiling information on water used at the wastewater treatment plant to include in the ongoing analysis.

In his general manager’s report Emerson said that district staff had been working to tighten up the infrastructure, replace meters, locate pipes, and make necessary repairs to have treated water totals align more closely with metered and consumed water. He noted Stillwell’s charting of the variations have helped monitor the effectiveness of the repairs.

Leino Lane Line Replacement

Emerson reported that the annexation process the district was engaged in for several years will be completed very soon. He said the final survey that was required by the Humboldt County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) for the annexation had been recorded that day. As a result, the district may replace the 1-inch line to the 10 residences at Leino Lane with a 2-inch line connected to a stub out that was installed when the Kimtu water line was put in. Prior to the annexation, Leino Lane was being served outside the district boundaries.

Emerson said that due to the unstable nature of the hillside in the Leino Lane area, he is exploring trenching or directional boring to install the line, with the possibility of adding valves on both sides so that in the event of another slide staff could attach an overland line to provide water for the residences.

Emerson said distance of the Leino Lane line was between 900 and 1,100 feet.

Multi-Family Residences

Emerson reported that the issue of multi-family residences with single-family charges came up in the Leino Lane project. He noted that there were five meters on Leino Lane and about 10 separate residences.

“It’s very specific,” he said, “that multi-family is more than one family living in a unit, and going through one meter, possibly.”

Some multi-family units that had been single-family living dwellings in Garberville have only one meter and pay one base rate and one water volume consumption rate through the meter, Emerson explained.

“The way multi-families are, is they pay one base rate per single-family equivalent.” In addition, Stillwell pointed out, instead of the five-unit discount that single residences pay, multi-family units pay a flat rate per unit of water.

Emerson said he and district staff are working to identify the multi-family units in the district.

Rate Study Update

Emerson told the board that he had consulted with legal counsel and learned that the district’s most recent rate study in 2009 would be sufficient if the district board decides to add a third-tier water charge for high water users. He explained that many districts are adding high-use tiers to their rates because state-mandated drought conservation measures decrease districts’ income. He noted that the board could define benchmarks or triggers for enacting a third-tier water rate for extreme high water users, and could include state-mandated drought declarations as a trigger for commencement of the third-tier charges. He recommended the board appoint a rate study committee to consider adding a third-tier rate. Board members Gary Wellborn and Richard Thompson volunteered for the committee.

In the ongoing process of updating the district’s ordinances, the board discussed the use of fire hydrants. District staff reported the district now has a meter to measure water taken from hydrants. Board president Linda Brodersen emphasized that the district does not charge the Garberville Volunteer Fire Department for water taken from hydrants to fight fires.

Emerson presented a draft fire hydrant use application and a draft contract. He suggested a $1,000 fine for water removed illegally or for tampering with the meter. The board did not think that was high enough. Board member Doug Bryan pointed out that the State Water Resources Control Board fine is $10,000 a day for unauthorized water withdrawals. Board member Gary Wellborn noted that in addition to stating the fine in the contract, the fine for unauthorized water withdrawal should be stated in the ordinance. Emerson will refine the wording of the ordinance and bring it back to the board for further discussion at the next meeting.

The board voted unanimously (with Rio Anderson absent) to approve the fourth reading of the changes to the discontinuance of use ordinance.

In response to a question from Thompson at the end of the meeting about the previously discussed water testing Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) results at the waste water treatment plant, which are higher than state requirements, district field staff Daniel Arreguin reported that the final chlorination chamber had been flushed out.

The regular GSD board meetings are on the third Tuesday of the month at the district office, 919 Redwood Drive in Garberville.