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[Story published Sept. 23] The Rancho Murieta Community Services District board responded to residents’ concerns about several hot-button issues at Wednesday’s meeting. Directors approved a $45,000 study of drinking water lakes Calero, Chesbro and Clementia to address taste and odor complaints, earmarked up to $10,000 for water quality improvements at the drainage basin known as Lost Lake, and rescinded last year’s vote to cut down a tree that caused a sewer line blockage and spill.  Instead, a concrete collar will be installed around the manhole near the tree to prevent root intrusion.

HDR Engineering will conduct the study that will evaluate lake water to "determine why we have taste and odor. There are compounds in the lake as a result of aquatic growth and algae growth that cause taste and odor," General Manager Ed Crouse said.

The two-part study will analyze these constituents "as well as what's fueling their growth, and come up with a response plan based on indicators or triggers," Crouse said. "… We can monitor those, and be ahead of the game instead of being reactive. … We feel that the bulk of it will be a response plan at the water treatment plant, and those would probably be a series of process changes or system increases as far as additions of ozone or other chemical additions."

A string of complaints erupted in late summer in RM.com's Forums, with some residents saying the water taking on a funny taste is a annual thing in summer and others saying the problem is worse this year than usual.

The CSD will continue to work with residents on suggestions to improve Lost Lake presented at the Improvements Committee this month. With the exception of Dick Taylor, the directors accepted a staff recommendation to earmark up to $10,000 to address water quality issues at the detention basin.

"The consensus of the Improvements Committee was that the district should be responsible for nuisance abatement of both odor and algae, but any aesthetic enhancement or benefit should be the responsibility of the residents or the RMA," said Crouse.

Crouse outlined the CSD's reservations about the $10,000 plan residents and their lake management consultant brought to the Improvements Committee.  "We're concerned about setting the level of expectations appropriately," he said. "We're concerned about costs. Typically, the storm drainage budget is only about $170,000, so $10,000 is a big chunk of that budget, not to mention the ongoing costs for electrical and maintenance and replacement of the improvements."

Mark Pecotich, who has led a neighborhood effort to improve the detention basin, told the board he will work with the CSD to come up with the best approach to the basin's problems. 

Previous coverage: Water Complaints and Lost Lake are discussed at CSD committee (September 15, 2011)

An agreement among the CSD, RMA and residents Bob and Janet Nicholson will put to rest the redwood tree issue by installing a concrete collar around the manhole instead of removing the tree. The tree is planted in a CSD utility easement on RMA common area next to the North Course. The Nicholsons want the tree to stay because it provides their home with shade and protection from errant golf balls.

Under the compromise that's been worked out,  RMA and CSD staff will manage the project and the Nicholsons have agreed to pay for the concrete when the collar is installed next week.

In other action at the meeting:

  • The board adopted a resolution authorizing CSD participation in a regional water resources coalition.  Its goal is to make sure the Delta Plan that's being developed "doesn't place an unfair burden on Northern California water users," Crouse said. "As members of the Regional Water Authority, we are partnering with other local entities in Northern California in an outreach and education effort to make sure that Northern California water users aren't unfairly impacted, particularly with user fees, approvals for water projects or curtailments of water rights."
  • The board approved an update of its strategic plan after adding improvement of water quality in the summer months as a goal, and changing the characterization of local electronic media from threats to opportunities for the Communications Committee.
  • The board  approved an updated drug and alcohol use policy and an employee recognition plan.  It's standard practice for employees to receive copies of district personnel policies that they sign and return for their files, Director of Administration Darlene Gillum said.
  • Employees should use tap water, instead of  bottled water supplied by the CSD, Director Jerry Pasek said during director and staff comments at the end of the meeting. Pasek said this would help the CSD spot problems with the water by making sure its employees drink what the CSD provides to the community. When General Manager Ed Crouse said bottled water is provided as a convenience for workers in the field, Pasek responded, "They can have all the water in bottles they like. They can fill it from the tap."

Vicky Lentz's picture
Joined: 09/01/2007
Posts: 30
Post rating: 98

Redwood Tree

"rescinded last year's vote to cut down a tree that caused a sewer blockage and spill."

Very good news.

Carol Anderson's picture
Joined: 09/19/2007
Posts: 33
Post rating: 54

Water Quality

It was time for a study 10 years ago. Now its time for action. We pay a fortune for water - water that must be filtered to drink, that leaves one feeling unclean after a shower and that leaves calcium rings on swimming pools, etc.Let get moving and fix the problem.

Frank Pumilia's picture
Joined: 08/08/2007
Posts: 134
Post rating: 187

Drinking Water

After weeks of comment about the terrible taste and smell of the water we drink CSD,  has finally decided to get some expert opinion of the cause........thats good., but somewhat late.

The first response of a one time rebate of   25% on the cost of one's water usage was a nice gester,  but  not thought out well.   The problem was with drinking / bathing water,  not all a units water usage including landscaping.....  Those of us who have bought into conservation landscaping got 25% of a small bill while the major water users got 25% of a large bill...this .rebate. should have been based on a fixed average amount based on the number of residents of a unit not on how much grass they water.

Finally, maybe  Mr Crouse and others at CSD would have been more aware of the problem had they been drinking tap water instead of free bottled water.....thanks to Director Pasek for bringing this up.

RM.com's picture
Joined: 06/19/2007
Posts: 27726
Post rating: 1387

CSD response to water credit

The CSD offered this response to Frank Pumilia's comment this morning:

The District strives to provide high quality drinking water to the residents and businesses of Rancho Murieta. And throughout the year, there are times that environmental conditions affect the quality of the water provided by the District. However, the circumstances that recently led to increased taste and odor issues were unusual and caused the quality of our treated water to be lower than our normal high quality standard. In an effort to express the District’s understanding of our customer’s dissatisfaction with the water provided during the month of August, all District customers were provided a 25% credit against their water usage charges.

In determining how to provide our customers with this credit, the District held three goals in mind: 1) the adjustment needed to be timely, 2) the methodology needed to be reasonable and applied as equitably as possible, and 3) there should be little to no cost to implement the credit (i.e., the programming of the credit had to be simple to avoid additional custom programming fees).

In attempting to satisfy these goals the District made some general assumptions in determining an equitable application. The first assumption was that 50% of the August water usage was for outside irrigation and would be excluded from the credit calculation. The second assumption was that two of the four weeks in August were affected by the taste and odor issue and should be credited to our customers. The third consideration was that any accounts established strictly for irrigation would be exempt from the credit. So the credit was calculated on ½ of 50% of the total water usage or a 25% credit for all accounts; excluding irrigation only accounts.

We understand that a more complex calculation, such as determining outside irrigation use based on lot size for each account, would result in a per customer credit that more closely matched their inside usage. However, the time and cost of re-programming our billing system for this more complex calculation was determined to be too costly to implement and the time delay would be unacceptable.

Darlene J. Gillum
Director of Administration
Rancho Murieta CSD

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