Friday, October 24, 2014 • 01:45
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Water supply alert imposed on Valley Center



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August 13, 2014
Effective Aug. 4, a water supply alert condition exists in Valley Center. The water alert was announced at the VCMWD meeting.

During the board meeting, a report was provided on the July 15 action of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) followed by the July 25 action by the San Diego County Water Authority Board addressing the shortage alert level of their programs and requesting member agencies implement mandatory water use restrictions within their jurisdictions. In response to those actions, the Water Board adopted Resolution 2014-27, taking the District into Level 2 Alert of the Water Supply Shortage Response Plan. Level 2 is the same as Level 1 Restrictions with the difference of the two levels being that with Level 2, restrictions are now mandatory and will have an enforcement factor. A review of the mandatory restrictions include the following:

1.Stop washing paved or hard surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, and tennis courts except when it is necessary to alleviate safety or sanitation hazards pertaining to food outlets and restaurants.

2.Stop inefficient landscape irrigation where the water runs off the property into adjacent concrete areas or hardscape.

3.Irrigate residential and commercial landscape before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. (the coolest part of the day) to reduce evaporation. This does not apply to drip irrigation.

4.Use a hand-held hose with a shut-off nozzle or bucket to water landscapes that do not have irrigation systems. This includes trees and shrubs located on residential and commercial properties that are not irrigated by a landscape irrigation system.

5.For nurseries and commercial growing operations, water before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. An exception when watering is permitted at any time is watering with a hand-held hose equipped with a positive shut-off nozzle or bucket or when a micro-drip irrigation system is used. Irrigation of nursery propagation beds which are very sensitive to heat would be allowed at any time.

6.Restrict use of recirculated water to operate ornamental water fountains.

7.Wash vehicles using a hose with a positive shut-off nozzle.

In addition, VCMWD customers are asked to repair all water leaks within a three-day period of notification of the leak.

VC Water District is providing what exceeds the requirements put forth by the SWRCB adding items not included in their mandate. A board member asked why percentage reduction goals weren't set. General Manager Gary Arant responded, "The people that were at the State Board hearing wanted to stay away from the statewide percentage because the situations around the state vary so much. If the Metropolitan Water District imposes by restriction later this year or next year, then that will translate into a percentage reduction and then we will be in an allocation and request the customers take a percentage reduction."

Arant stated that VCMWD is recommending that customers be given a 30 to 45-day transition period to get used to the fact that Valley Center is transitioning from a voluntary situation to a mandatory implementation. Before a formal citation is issued, a written advisory will be given as to what the water district has observed and what the potential violations are.

In addition, a water waste hotline will be established for unanimous callers to provide information on potential violations.

Another measure is VCMWD will be showing customers a comparison of the most recent billing period usage to the one last year so there is a concept of where they are currently in relationship to what was used previously.

"We want to emphasize that even though we will be showing comparative usage data on the water bills starting in mid-September, that is just for informational purposes only," said Arant. "There will not be allocations or fines going over the allocations at this time."

Intensive advertising online and community publications will provide notification of the program and what is expected. The program will be implemented within a week when mailing invoices will be sent to all 9,100 customers describing mandatory water use provisions, implementation, and potential enforcement measures. Arant explained the goal of the Water Board is to have the Level 2 notification mailer in the hands of customers by Aug. 22.

"We want to take a respectful, soft-landing approach with our customers rather than to hit them hard with early formal enforcement,"Arant said. "Ultimately, we have to show conservation and an effort to achieve it or VCMWD becomes subject to fines from the SWRCB of up to $10,000 for noncompliance."

Other topics on the agenda included a request for amendments to Administrative Code Articles 1 through 9. The Board reviews and updates the Administrative Code periodically to make certain it is current with all state and federal laws, regulations, and court cases which impact the District's roles, responsibilities, and relationship with its employees.

"Things are constantly changing, getting more complex in the area of employer/employee relations," said Arant. "It is a real challenge to keep abreast of what's new and make sure that we are operating fairly and legally when it comes to our employees."

The Board voted to adopt Ordinance No. 2014-05 to amend Administrative Code Articles 1-9 to comply with current laws and to update District practices.

A report was provided concerning the Country Club Reservoir Upgrade Project. The Board voted to approve Change Order No. 2 to the contract with TC Construction Company hired to work on the Country Club Reservoir, which will provide $59,072.75 to the construction company. The net change orders represent about 2% of the $1.8 million contract cost which is within the 5% to 10 % range allotted for a project of this magnitude.

There was discussion on the request for extension of the Emergency Service Agreement with the San Pasqual Band of Diegueno Mission Indians. A basic agreement between San Pasqual Band and VCMWD has been in place since the mid-90s and is not considered a negative impact on VCMWD operations.

The arrangement provides placing an additional surcharge of $85 on the water to offset the fact that the water goes to land outside the district and the Band does not pay taxes or standby fees as in-district customers do.

"It helps the San Pasqual Band who are our neighbors and in-district customers," Arant said.

The Indian Water Litigation between the five Bands and the City of Escondido and Vista Irrigation District was originally filed in 1968. At some point, the case will be resolved at which time San Pasqual will review its share of the 16,000 AF allocated to the Bands. There have been many preliminary discussions about transporting San Pasqual's water through VCMWD water system as being the most cost effective way for them to access their allocated water supply.

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Michael Robledo