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The CSD board last week approved spending up to $304,560 for a temporary filtration system to handle delays in getting its new water treatment plant online. The company overseeing the project came in for serious criticism.  The board also discussed Security's guns-drawn handling of a situation with a resident who was believed to be armed with a semi-automatic weapon.

Board OKs six-figure cost to cover delays in water plant

The new water treatment plant was expected to be online in May or June, but that deadline could be missed by months.

“If you don’t want to ask residents to turn off outside irrigation during the months of June and July, then we need to have temporary filtration brought in. ... Even if we have them continue with their 20 percent conservation, 2 million gallons a day is not sufficient to cover June and July demands,” General Manager Darlene Gillum told the directors during the discussion before the vote to bring in the temporary filtration system.

The CSD shut down Plant #1 last September, so an expanded water treatment facility could be constructed in its place, and has relied on Plant #2 to meet the community’s potable water needs through the winter, when demand is lower. Plant #2 can produce a maximum of 2 million gallons of treated water a day. The district declared mandatory water restrictions limiting landscape watering to two days a week effective Sept. 1 to reduce water use while Plant #1 was shut down and to comply with a state requirement for a 20 percent reduction in water use.

“It was always in the specs that temporary filtration was going to be needed if the project ran outside the winter months,” Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations, said at Wednesday’s board meeting. He described the CSD schedule for building the plant and bringing it online as “severely compressed” compared to similar plant builds.

The temporary filtration system will cost about $50,000 a month, with a minimum commitment of two months to bring the equipment out, Gillum said. Funding will come from the operating budget for water, which can probably absorb the cost for two months, she said. She added that the budget will take a hit if more time is needed.

When President Jerry Pasek said, “With the temporary filtration available and in place, there is no impact on processing for anybody,” Gillum clarified, “There’s no impact on our current customer base. There could be an impact to developers because if they want to go out and get permits for Retreats (project) or something else, there could be an issue with that approval through the county, which I’m also trying to work through the county.”

Developer representative John Sullivan, who attended the meeting and participated in the discussion, said, “We are very concerned. Darlene’s put in motion what she can to see about moving the Cosumnes River entitlements over to Retreats to see that we can pull our building permits on the schedule that we intended to pull them on without hurting us. But this (temporary) filtration doesn’t add capacity, this just replaces capacity.”

The expanded plant will provide the additional water treatment capacity required for development.

Later in the meeting, reasons for the delay were discussed. Siebensohn told the board that General Electric Power & Water, the company that manufactures the membrane system being installed in the plant, said it had provided the timeframe for its commissioning activities but it hadn’t been put into the schedule created by Roebbelen Construction Management Services Inc., which CSD hired to oversee the project.

According to Siebensohn, the project was already three weeks behind, and the additional GE requirements put it further behind.

There was also the matter of stainless steel piping that requires custom fabrication and a 10-week lead time.

“This is really pushing the project schedule out, and we’re trying to be in coordination with Roebbelen, saying, 'Where is it you’re going to reel this back?'” Siebensohn said.

Director Paul Gumbinger noted there have been updates at every meeting about the schedule and “all of a sudden, boom, we get this notice that we’re way out someplace.”

“It was a kick in the gut to us as well,” Siebensohn said. He said he emailed Roebbelen as soon as he got the news from General Electric about its 68- to 80-day activity requirements for commissioning. “Roebbelen’s in charge of the master schedule and the scheduling, but we’re working directly with the trade contractors instead of having a mute go-between between us right now,” Siebensohn said.

In response to a question from Director Mark Pecotich about whether Roebbelen had fallen short of the performance guarantees in its contract, Gillum said, “That’s what we’re working on right now. There are a lot of moving parts, so it’s not exactly clear who’s responsible for what proportion of what delays. We’re trying to work through all of that and figure that all out.”

An angry Sullivan commented, “At some point in time, Roebbelen was supposed to take charge and resolve the problem. It’s not the district’s problem to resolve. And I can tell you that I had a conversation with Roebbelen and told him in no uncertain terms that his promises are going to besmirch his reputation around the community for failure to perform here. ... I have to tell you this is not my displeasure with the district. This is my displeasure with the person who was hired to protect your interests and my interests, that made a contract to deliver in May a water treatment plant for $12 million bucks. And I wish that person would have the balls to show up here and explain himself.”

The board authorized entering into contract negotiations with Roebbelen for construction management at its August 2013 meeting after it was the only firm to respond to a request for proposals for the service. Bob Kjome, Roebbelen executive vice president and a former CSD director, appeared at the meeting to answer directors' questions.

One of the questions concerned his participation in the April 2013 workshop where Sullivan presented a design-build proposal for a new water treatment plant that identified Roebbelen as construction manager for the project. When the design-build proposal proved unworkable, the CSD embarked on its own plan to replace an existing plant that's nearing 40 years old and provide "core facilities" for expansion.  "Basically, our contract is going to be with the district," Kjome said in response.  He said his role was project principal, and the Roebbelen team included a senior estimator "to lead the pre-construction effort," as well as a project manager and a field supervisor.

CSD entered into a professional services agreement with Roebbelen in September 2013 “to develop an integrated schedule, provide independent cost estimates, develop work packages/contracts for the actual construction effort, conduct the competitive public bid process for the performing trade contractors and manage the construction effort ... to make sure the job is completed on cost and on schedule.”

In addition to the contract for pre-construction services, the agreement called for Roebbelen to be paid $305,607 for general conditions during construction, $45,300 for insurance and an incentive fee of 3.5 percent of the construction cost of the plant, which was estimated then at $7,370,000.

Directors urge more training for Security officers

Two directors urged Security to offer more training to its officers in the wake of a January incident in which officers pulled their guns to order a young man from his car because they suspected he had a semi-automatic weapon.

“To me, this was a very serious incident. Bad things could have happened,” said Director Mike Martel, who asked challenging questions at a Security Committee meeting earlier this month.

“People can be mad at me,” Martel said at the board meeting, “but I think it’s this board’s duty to ask those kinds of questions and to make sure that either our training is accurate, the funds are appropriate, and the staff is behaving in an appropriate way.”

When questioned by President Jerry Pasek, Security Chief Greg Remson acknowledged not all officers wear body cameras at all times.  In this incident, only one of the officers was wearing a camera, Remson said, and there have been technical problems in getting the recording from that camera.

Remson said the department has two cameras that are shared among its officers.  He said two officers have bought their own cameras, adding, “One officer bought his own because the one he bought he likes better than the one we have.”

Martel said there should be district policy covering use of district property -- and property like security cameras should be owned by the district.

Martel had a list of concerns: inconsistencies between reports on the incident from Security and sheriff’s deputies, gaps in officer training, Security training costs of less than $1,200 last year, why Remson wasn’t notified until the incident was over, the failure of the camera and other things.

Director Paul Gumbinger urged Remson to set up a training schedule for officers and to develop a budget proposal for training to cover situations like this.

Backing Gumbinger’s comments, neighbor Bob Tauber asked the board why it was criticizing Security for any of this.

“I’d like everyone to remember who caused the problem,” he said, “and it wasn’t the officers.  ... You people have a responsibility.  If you want training and so forth, you need to pay for it.  And unless you’re going to pay for it, what have you been doing these years? ... Have you been allocating these funds?”

He added, “This situation ended peacefully; it ended appropriately.  You’ve made the decision to arm (the officers).  You’ve made the decision on training. And that’s where a lot of the responsibility has to be.  You’re the ones that are approving a lot more commercial development within this district. ... And it’s this board that’s approving a hotel, with a bar, and so forth.  I think the board needs to look at that. ... We’ve got a large population here, almost 6,000 people.”

Directors pointed out limitations in funding from the security tax, set in the 1990s at a flat 2 percent.

At the outset of the discussion, Pasek said it had been reported incorrectly that security issues have been discussed in executive session.

“There has never been a closed session discussion on any of that. ... It’s a false accusation,” Pasek said. Martel replied that he said the topic has come up in a number of board gatherings.  “They took the quotation from me,” Martel said, adding that his comments weren’t accurate.

Related coverage: CSD discusses handling of weapon arrest (Feb. 9, 2015)

Board urged to hold meetings on development and water

Longtime community leader John Merchant, who the night before asked the Rancho Murieta Association to help stage developer presentations for the community, asked the CSD board to consider something he did when he headed the CSD -- hold community meetings on water.

Said Merchant, “Really, it doesn’t make any sense to me to wait till this (development) thing gets further down the road. ... If you guys think you’re comfortable with the numbers and we can or we can’t support this (development), then I think we ought to tell the community what the story is.”

President Jerry Pasek said he thought Merchant’s suggestion was excellent.  He added that he believes the community has enough water, even under the greater build-out envisioned originally, “but that probably means everybody skimps a lot.”

In other business...

  • The board voted unanimously to allow community-based nonprofit organizations to place promotional inserts in district bills.  The organizations must print and supply the inserts, and CSD reserves the right to bump any group’s insert if it needs to include one of its own.
  • The community’s reservoirs are 89 percent full, Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations, reported.  While CSD was still diverting water from the Cosumnes River at the time, the flows were dropping quickly, he said.  Without more rain, flow requirements would force diversion to stop soon, he said.

Todd Coulter's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 74
Post rating: 80

I am not shocked

Of course it's delayed, I imagine it is conveniently delayed the exact time that we all waited for those bonds to be approved (many months) to get the money from the Sullivan group. Remember the CSD refused to spend a single dime of the Sullivan group's money until the bonds went through, now we see the repercussions.

I am not at all shocked.

CSD board hired the wrong firm because they were told too and now I will bet overruns and time delays will be the norm and the residents will end up footing the bill.

I also suspect if CSD directors could actually think on their own two feet and not be directed and told when and how high to jump they would have solved this at the start by hiring a firm that is not the right hand man of the primary developer. Of course that is assuming they actually cared about the folks in this community and not their own pocket.

One day I wish a few legal folks would explore the relationship between the CSD directors and the developers. Would love to see what is going on behind the scenes and send a few folks to the slammer if they did break their fidiuary responsbility. Would not be the first time that happened. 

It will continue to be delayed and more problems will emerge moving forward, just as I predicted in my original posts. Always follow the money.

Richard P. Margarita's picture
Joined: 05/22/2010
Posts: 13
Post rating: 49

Unfortunately, it seems like

Unfortunately, it seems like Mr. Sullivan is running the CSD and the entire Murieta Community. Understand, he is just the mouthpiece for some major builder that is lurking in the bushes, pulling Sullivan's strings.  Sullivan gets paid when the approvals are greased at the County level based on on the good ole boy network, and the false assumption  that "he is one of us" syndrome. The "John Sullivan mosquito hole" behind the Chevron gas station doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast. And I think you are right Todd, there just seems to be a few folks on the Board that are making decisions that just don't make logical sense, except for the benefit of Mr. Sullivan. 

Jen Cooper's picture
Joined: 06/06/2012
Posts: 72
Post rating: 96

"skimps a lot"

What do you mean by "skimps a lot".  I am watering 2 days a week when its not raining,  I am limiting showers, I am limiting a lot already.  What more am I to "skimp" on.  And there are countless people who are not skimping at all (in part a neighbor who drains and refills his pool every two weeks as to avoid buying pool equipment throwing 10's of thousands of gallons away at a time) and there is no punishment for them.  I am now to not bathe or water anything so that a person can build out a bunch of homes (when he can't even get the hotel finished???)



Joanna Walker's picture
Joined: 08/01/2014
Posts: 30
Post rating: 21

Can someone help me

Can someone help me understand this Sullivan quote from the article:

       “We are very concerned. Darlene’s put in motion what she can to see about moving the Cosumnes River entitlements over to Retreats to see that we can pull our building permits on the schedule that we intended to pull them on without hurting us. But this (temporary) filtration doesn’t add capacity, this just replaces capacity.”


Moving the entitlements?  Moving from where?  




Todd Coulter's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 74
Post rating: 80

Follow The Money

I suspect the reason to manuever the permits is to stay underneath water requirements and its legal process of getting approved. No doubt the CSD board and staff will approve the changes and bend over backwards to make sure Sullivan gets everything he needs to keep it all moving forward. 

As to the water fund forking out $100k for those extra months (which will be far more than the two months if you read further down on the delays) again means money that the residents paid will be spent to cover the costs for the build and not used for other purposes - as originally planned..

My question is why not force the developer to pay the overage?

It is afterall the only reason we are building out the WTP in the first place. Make the Sullivan group actually spend a little of their own money for once.

Since this WPT started not a single penny of Sullivan's money has been spent on the WTP, the CSD board and staff actively refused to spend a single dime (until the bonds were done) yet had no problem whatsoever folking out $millions of dollars of  homeowner's money. This I find amazing and again why I think the board should be investigated for collusion and breach of their fiduary responsibility.

More delays and costs will follow, plus I suspect the front gate money was never paid either.

Richard P. Margarita's picture
Joined: 05/22/2010
Posts: 13
Post rating: 49

Director Martel is quoted

Director Martel is quoted above as stating, "...Martel had a list of concerns: inconsistencies between reports on the incident from Security and sheriff’s deputies, gaps in officer training..." Maybe Director Martel can articulate in the next  meeting exactly the inaccuracies he alleges. Why would Director Martel have copies of the Sheriff's report in the first place?  Maybe the CSD reports under a Public Records Act request, but the SSD reports? 

I steadfastly agree with Director Martel on training issues.  In law enforcement circles, training is the last thing that gets funded, and the first issue that arises when liability is asserted.  CSD can't continue to "do it on the cheap" as far as training goes for our officers, and then expect to  micromanage and second guess everything that is done. It is inherently unfair.. 

Maybe it is time to be appreciative for what Security does and has done, and improve their training budget. Training should not be perceived as a reprimand or knock on the officers, but instead, like  continuing education, an investment in our officers and community.

With all the funds that Director Martel has previously stated he wanted to use to fund the "Stalag 13" surveillance cameras, we should re-direct some or all of those funds for the ongoing training for our Security Officers. After all, the Lieutenant from the Sheriff's Department/Rancho Cordova PD recently opined and corrected on this web site,  it was about a 32 minute response by the SSD/RCPD for the January 17, 2015 AR-15 incident, not an hour.  Still, not impressive, and woefully inadequate. I can get to Hwy 50 and Sunrise from the front gate in 32 minutes pedaling a bike. Clearly, it demonstrates that the SSD/RCPD knows that we have armed security officers that should arguably handle an incident, and they (SSD/RCPD) are not going to scream down Sunrise and Jackson Highway when the issue should be stable in 30 minutes or less. Like it or not, the citizens of Rancho Murieta get less immediate service and response from the SSD/RCPD because we have our own armed security officers.

Unfortunately, there continues to be an undercurrent of animosity and an axe to grind towards our Security folks by a few Board members. Why?

There's an arrest report out there that will clearly shed some light, like a freight train chugging down the track. The excavation shall continue.

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

Annual reports delivered at CSD

The story was supposed to include PDF files of annual-report presentations delivered at the CSD meeting by Greg Remson, Security chief, and Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations. (But we dropped the ball.) Here are those reports:

Myrna Solomon's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 427
Post rating: 745


Jen, have you reported this to CSD??
if yes, what was said, if no, why not?This is a water waster of the ultimate kind and his behavior must be stopped. I by the way, have not watered at all in probably four months and our plants are doing just fine. I've seen people watering and it bugs me because there is no reason to because of our clay soil out here. We only have so much water to share amongst all of us, alnd it is up to everyone to do the right thing..

Myrna Solomon

Beth Buderus's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 926
Post rating: 706

I agree, report him

I agree, Jen you need to report him.  And if you're afraid too, then hopefully someone at CSD is reading these and can figure out where you live and then look at the water useage for the neighbors near you. 

Oh actually, you can do it anonymously on CSD's website


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