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.