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The Rancho Murieta Community Services District board of directors voted last week for mandatory water restrictions that limit landscape watering to two days a week effective Sept. 1. The board took the action to reduce water use while one phase of the water treatment plant is shut down for construction of a new plant in its place, and to comply with a state requirement for a 20 percent reduction in water use.

“The big push is we have to conserve water while Plant 1 is being taken off-line,” Paul Siebensohn, director of field services, said at Wednesday's board meeting. When that happens next month, the community will be depending solely on Plant 2 production. “We only have the maximum capacity -- that’s absolute maximum -- of 2 million gallons per day,” Siebensohn said. “And then you have a certain percentage of that used for backwashing (filters), so you can lower that down to 1.83 million gallons per day. So we have got to do water conservation, we have to step that up beyond where we’re currently at to be able to supply water for the district’s needs. So that’s the big push.”

While reduced production makes it necessary to conserve, there are other benefits to saving water, Siebensohn said. “If we don’t use as much water, we’ll have more water available in our reservoirs if the drought continues. We’ve done our due diligence moving into next year. In regards to pumping from the Cosumnes River, we won’t have that high cost that we had last year.” The reduction in pumping costs could help offset the drop in water revenue from conservation, Siebensohn said.

He said the state requirement to reduce water use 20 percent or to the levels of 2013 has been met. “It doesn’t really specify whether that’s production or water use,” Siebensohn said. “We looked at both of those and we’re below 20 percent on both of those.”

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Board appointments instead of election

With three candidates for three seats on the board, the CSD will forgo the November election. Instead,  Mark Pecotich and incumbents Jerry Pasek and Paul Gumbinger will be appointed to the board. They will be sworn in and begin their four-year terms at the December meeting.

Pasek, currently the president of the board, was selected to serve the remainder of an unexpired term in 2007 and appointed to his first full term on the CSD board in 2010 as one of three unopposed candidates. Pasek previously served on the Country Club board, where he was president.

Paul Gumbinger was appointed to the CSD board in 2012 to complete an unexpired term. Gumbinger previously served on the Rancho Murieta Association board of directors for two three-year terms starting in 2002. He was president for much of his time in RMA office.

Pecotich will succeed Bobbi Belton when she leaves the board at the end of her second term.

Pecotich, a newcomer to the political scene,  first became active in the community in 2010 as an advocate for cleaning up a drainage basin near his home in Murieta South. He then became the spokesman for Murieta Trail Stewardship in the group’s efforts to get approval from landowners and local authorities for an extensive trails network created by community volunteers, and he headed a group of volunteers who built the Riverview Park bicycle pump track last year.

Supplying water in an emergency

The board agreed to supply water to a property outside the district after the family of four ran out of water.  “As the river ran dry, his well ran dry,” Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations, said, describing the situation at the neighboring ranch owned by Don and Kristin Hutchinson.

“Normally we don’t get involved in public health and safety emergency, but both the state water board, Department of Water Resources, Public Health ... said ‘why aren’t you giving him water already?’” General Manager Joe Blake told the board.

The Hutchison ranch abuts the Rancho Murieta Community Services District near the Yellow Bridge. “(The agencies) are saying because we abut, it’s still within our place of use,” Blake said. “... The requirement is a one-inch residential water line, not to be used for any other purpose. ... He would like to obtain grant money to drill a new well, but that’s 175K. Given what else is happening and the unavailability of drillers, he’s not going to get water. ... What the agencies are telling us, again, is, get him water. The meter would be on our side, by the water main by the Yellow Bridge.”

The agreement is “a standard water connection agreement” with a cost of $6,500 for one equivalent dwelling unit (EDU), Blake said. “So it’s just one home, not to be used for stock ponds or any agricultural or other usage.”

The special service agreement for the use of the water was prepared by CSD counsel Dick Shanahan and appears in the meeting packet. “Absent cause, this new connection is intended to be ongoing and indefinite,” Shanahan said. He pointed out that, in addition to CSD fees, the landowner “is going to be spending a lot of money to make this connection. ... It’s going to be quite an investment.”

Director Mike Martel wanted to know, since the district was voluntarily providing water, why it wasn’t expanding its boundaries. “There’s going to be capacity and we’re going to be tempted to sell that water for a profit to reduce our rates,” Martel said. “It reminds me of ‘Chinatown’ a little bit.”

Blake responded, “The regulators, as I’ve reported before, are saying, ‘Joe, we’d like to extend the boundaries of the district.’ ... We have to be very careful of what that would entail.”

Martel, who proposed making the water connection to the Hutchinson ranch temporary, cast the sole opposing vote to providing service.
Water treatment plant update

Director Bobbi Belton asked about critical comments General Manager Joe Blake made at committee meetings this month concerning Roebbelen Construction Management, the firm hired last year to oversee the water treatment plant expansion and upgrade. “I think we need to come to resolution because I don’t think the community want to spend $500,000 if our staff are the ones doing what the contractor’s supposed to be doing,” Belton said.

Blake replied that since the Improvements and Finance committee meetings when he criticized Roebbelen’s performance, the situation has improved. “We’re injecting discipline into the system, we now have a schedule, we have their full attention, we have a supervisor on the site ... we meet a minimum of three times a week. So we went from ‘I’m not really here for you’ to now we have their full attention. ... I don’t have feelings about Roebbelen positive or negative. What I want is performance. In other words, I want to have a schedule, which was promised, which we now have. ... I want to make sure that (Director of Field Operations Paul Siebensohn) and I are notified of all activities regarding the project and then lastly, we now are actually doing things. ... If they do not do what they’re supposed to do ... then I will come back to you and say I would not want to retain them.”

CSD president criticized for response

Representatives of the Progressive Americans for Truth group addressed the board about the response they received to a letter they submitted to the River Valley Times several weeks ago posing questions about water-related issues. Spokesperson Linda Klein termed the letter CSD President Jerry Pasek sent to individual executive committee members “disrespectful.” Pasek told Klein he was “sorry you took it that way. ... I guess what frustrated me ... was I knew that some of your people knew the answers. You could have put in the answer rather than fired back as a question.”  

Directors Mike Martel and Paul Gumbinger took issue with the letter going out on CSD letterhead, and Director Bobbi Belton said Pasek was not speaking for the board.

The group’s letter and Pasek’s response were not available at the board meeting. Instead, General Manager Joe Blake handed out a two-page letter dated the day of the board meeting and signed by Pasek that is intended for publication in the newspaper. Pasek said the letter was written by Blake. “It merely addresses the questions you had,” he told the group.

In brief

  • Security Chief Greg Remson said the teenage resident seriously injured in a car accident on De La Cruz Drive Aug. 15 remains hospitalized, but he is considered “likely to survive.”
  • The board approved a proposal for appraisal services for the properties that will make up Community Facilities District No. 2014-1 at a cost not to exceed $20,000. The cost will be charged to the community facilities district, which is being formed to finance infrastructure for the development of Murieta Gardens and unbuilt property on the North formerly owned by the Pension Trust Fund for operating engineers. The property owners are financially responsible for the community facilities district, which is administered by the CSD.
  • Director Mike Martel said the ad hoc security committee he heads is “on hold” pending the outcome of a $5 million grant request the CSD has made to the Department of Homeland Security. The ad hoc committee discussed establishing a network of surveillance cameras using  security fees that new development is obligated to pay under the terms of agreements with the CSD.
  • The board voted to place about $30,000 in delinquent accounts on the Sacramento County tax rolls for collection. Under the Teeter Plan, the county has the option to purchase the delinquencies from the district. The district recovers the delinquent funds, and the county collects penalties and interest after the charges are placed on county property tax bills for collection. This year’s delinquencies total about $15,000 less than last year’s.

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

Better Post It At Front Gates!

Well they better post about the water "mandatory" cutback at the front gates, otherwise, people will not read about it in the RVT or the .coms and/or they ignore anything that's mailed to them.

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