The Community Services District is moving toward a 2017-18 budget with an overall increase of 1.32 percent in the average monthly residential bill.
Under the proposed budget, outlined at Wednesday’s CSD board meeting, the average residential bill of $168.55 for water, sewer, drainage, security and trash collection services would go up $2.22, to $170.77.
The budget dials back revenue projections in favor of more conservative assumptions about projected growth, estimated water demand and solar power savings, although projections for the hotel and a portion of the Retreats residential development remain.
The budget also reflects concerns about aging infrastructure and implementing the recommendations of a reserve study by increasing reserve contributions for water and sewer, and allocating funding for drainage reserves.
The board authorized mailing notices about potential rate increases for the budget to ratepayers and set May 17 for a rate hearing. Increases cannot exceed the rates that appear in the notice.
Water operations review for 2016
Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations, began his annual review of water operations with the dramatic impact caused by the arrival of rains at the end of 2016. “We stopped pumping ... they filled those reservoirs,” he stated. To meet the community’s water needs, the district pumps from the Cosumnes River from Nov. 1 through May 31 depending upon water flow.
In a drought year, the district makes use of every opportunity to pump water for storage, which can translate to a spike in power consumption when larger pumps are employed. “A lot of power and of course, a lot of cost,” Siebensohn said, referring to a chart of annual electrical costs at the pump station.
The district had a 25 percent conservation target for water consumption in 2016 and achieved 19.8 percent conservation compared with 2013, the year the state uses for comparison. Although 2013 was a drought year, Rancho Murieta’s potable water consumption that year exceeded the previous three years and every year since, according to Siebensohn’s report.
The department also tracks water leak repairs and meter replacements, and the report showed 55 repairs and 110 meter replacements for 2016.
Wastewater is collected, treated and supplied to the golf courses for irrigation during the summer months. Wastewater is drawn down before the start of the winter rainy season to ensure adequate storage.
The amount of wastewater coming into the plant is expected to increase this year. “We anticipate this next year being quite higher, just from the initial rains we received and from the intrusion and infiltration we received as a result of those rains,” Siebensohn said. “This year I anticipate being able to meet all of (the golf course irrigation) demands.”
The water treatment plant expansion was completed in 2016, and solar power projects for the water and wastewater treatment plants are in process. The well project is on hold, with a Dec. 31 deadline on the $500,000 grant the CSD received for construction costs. The deadline may be extended, General Manager Darlene Thiel said.
Saying goodbye to chief plant operator
As General Manager Darlene Thiel looks on, President Mark Pecotich presents David Herrmann, the CSD’s chief plant operator, with a resolution the board adopted in his honor. The resolution recognized Herrmann’s 24 years of service to the community and wished him well in a new position with the City of Sacramento that offers personal and professional growth. Herrmann has left the CSD before in his career, and Pecotich remarked that the door is always open for a return. Herrmann was honored as supervisor of the year by the California Water Environment Association at the January board meeting.