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Residents will be receiving notices of tiered pricing rates the Rancho Murieta Community Services District may have to implement as part of its drought response. The CSD board voted to start the rate process at its meeting last week. The earliest the rates could be put in place is May if the board decides they are needed to reach water conservation goals.

Drought update

In response to the drought, the CSD has issued a Stage 2 water warning with mandatory water use restrictions that took effect Feb. 1. The CSD goal is to reduce water consumption 20 percent, and usage was down 7 percent from January during the first two weeks of February, Assistant General Manager Darlene Gillum said at last week’s meeting.  Average water usage per connection was 353 gallons per day in January, according to Director of Field Operations Paul Siebensohn’s monthly report.

In the CSD water shortage contingency plan, a Stage 2 drought declaration calls for up to 25 percent conservation and the implementation of tiered pricing and drought surcharges.

The CSD estimates the fiscal impact of a full year of Stage 2 drought to be $394,000. That includes the revenue loss from a 20 percent reduction in water usage, increased power costs for running larger pumps, a power demand surcharge and conservation related spending.

The CSD was able to begin pumping water from the Cosumnes River this month with the larger pumps, and reservoirs are 77 percent full, up from about 60 percent, Siebensohn said.

But 2013 was the driest year on record for the district, with only 6.16 inches of rain, and long-term forecasting is for  “a persistent extreme drought,” he noted in his monthly report.

Gillum told the directors that notifying residents about rates for different stages of drought and levels of water conservation wouldn’t commit the board to adopt tiered pricing. However, “in the event we had to move from a Stage 2 to a Stage 3, the pricing would already have been through the Prop. 218 notice and we wouldn’t have to wait another two months to implement it,” Gillam said. “The process tonight, if you decide to authorize the Prop. 218 notices to go out, doesn’t commit the district to implementing this tiered pricing. It’s just getting it out there to the public to get their notice and have 45 days to protest the tiered pricing.”  The rates would come back to the board in April, and for adoption in May, “if that’s what you chose to do,” Gillum said. “Tonight we’re not asking for the authorization to implement tiered pricing. We’re just asking to move forward with the 218 process so that it’s in place when the board would like to implement.”

Referring to charts in the board packet, Gillum said that under Stage 2 pricing, the monthly bill for a household that uses the first tier’s 800 cubic feet of water would increase $3.18. The second tier, 1,500 cubic feet, has an increase of $10.84. For 2,500 cubic feet, the increase is $21.79.

If adopted, tiered pricing would stay in effect for the duration of the drought stage, with tiered rates for both commercial and residential customers.

“Tiered pricing is meant to send a pricing signal to encourage residents to conserve,” General Manager Ed Crouse said. “So if they have voluntarily conserved 20 percent and the indication is they’re going to continue throughout the summer, the board has the discretion of either adopting it or not adopting it, and then stopping the tiered rate whenever they feel comfortable that our targets have been met.”

“We’ll continue to monitor conservation reductions between now and May,” Gillum said to the directors. “You may decide that you don’t need to go through with the tiered pricing.  But tonight we need to go ahead so that it’s in place in case you do need to adopt it.”

If the board decides conservation goals are being met and tiered pricing isn’t needed, it could decide to absorb the additional costs of the drought, Gillum said.

The board heard opposition to the potential rate increases from developer John Sullivan, who said he was representing commercial interests, and homeowner Adam Dubey, who said he had a problem with the residential pricing structure because it didn’t take into account house and lot size. Referencing his water bills for the past three years, Dubey said,“I was averaging for the July, August and September months 5,088 cubic feet of water (monthly use) and you’re telling me that over 2,500 cubic feet I’m a water waster?”

The directors, with the exception of Mike Martel, approved sending residents notification about the proposed rates to start the process.

In another water-related action, the board approved a $135,500 proposal from Dunn Environmental Inc. for production well construction plans and specifications for wells to augment the community’s water supply by 600 acre feet per year. The funds come from augmentation fees the CSD has collected from developers since 1992. The CSD has also received a grant from the state for well construction.

CSD North Gate contribution

Unlike last week's Rancho Murieta Association meeting agenda, the agenda for the CSD board meeting did not have a board action item for North Gate funding, and President Jerry  Pasek said the expectation that the CSD board would vote on approving $115,000 in funding for the North Gate was in error.  “CSD is not contributing $115,000 to (the RMA) general building fund. We’re putting in security equipment that’s probably worth that or more,” Pasek said.

When the RMA board voted last week to contribute $115,000, RMA General Manager Greg Vorster listed four funding sources for the project --  $1.4 million from the Pension Trust Fund for Operating Engineers under the terms of a development agreement between the RMA and the PTF, RMA and CSD contributions of $115,000 each,  and $360,000 pledged by the investor group that purchased the PTF property.

The RMA initially asked the CSD to contribute $200,000 to the project to cover security-related items. The RMA owns the North Gate and the CSD provides the security operation. Information about the gate project was provided at a town hall meeting Thursday.

2013 Security report

Security Chief Greg Remson presented the annual review of security operations. The report states that the mission of the Security Department is “to protect life and property and also provide prompt, courteous and professional service to the public within the Rancho Murieta Community Services District.” Staffing consists of gate officers and patrol officers.

The report covers non-resident traffic at the gates, patrol time by area (Rancho Murieta Association accounts for the largest share, 72 percent), the most common calls for service, crime complaints, vehicle related calls, and animal calls (loose/off leash dogs top the list with 341 calls; there were also 50 snake calls and nine for mountain lions).

The report is available here.

Water treatment plant update

The board proceeded with plans to build a new water treatment plant. The new facility will be constructed in the footprint of one of the two existing phases of the plant. It will have an initial treatment capacity of about 3.5 million gallons of water daily, which could be expanded to 6 million gallons a day. Bids for the project were scheduled to be opened Friday, and construction is expected to be completed in May 2015.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, after a hearing was held on the mitigated negative declaration prepared for the project in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, the board adopted it and approved the project.

The board postponed approval of a consultant’s proposal for engineering services during construction and directed staff to negotiate a reduction from the current cost of about $300,000.

The board approved a reimbursement resolution that gives the CSD time to evaluate “whether internal reserve borrowing or obtaining a private placement (bank loan) is the best option for the financing of the district’s share” of the water treatment plant,  Assistant General Manager Darlene Gillum wrote last month in a memorandum on financing alternatives.

The resolution passed last week allows the CSD to repay itself for expenditures for the plant by issuing tax exempt securities, but it does not commit the CSD to issue the securities, Gillum said.
The CSD assumed the lead in building the plant and has been working with development entities to fund its construction.

To date, costs for the project have been paid by the CSD from reserves and from a letter of credit posted by the South developer. The CSD is looking into using its reserves to pay its cost share of $3 million.

Airport’s water, sewer issues

General Manager Ed Crouse said Rancho Murieta Airport will be installing a master meter to monitor water use, and CSD staff has determined a cost for “unaccounted water and sewer” usage that came to light after the airport submitted plans for a hangar project to the county.  The water charge is based on three years’ use for a garden and the additional sewer connection charge is “based on one EDU per month,” Crouse said. “That works out to about $1,700 in total.” The sewer charge is related to the RV storage added to the facility about three years ago, he said.

The CSD intended to assess penalties for the unauthorized sewer use, but the only option was misdemeanor prosecution that would have to be carried out by the district attorney’s office, CSD legal counsel Jon Hobbs explained. “I think it’s unlikely they would do it, given the case load that they have,” he said.

“There has to be a penalty for not following our process,” Director Mike Martel said.

Crouse said the district sent a letter to the airport owner and the owner has agreed to install the meter and to other terms. At the present time, the district has administrative penalties and fines applicable on the water side, but not the sewer side. “So what we’re going to have to do is go back and reevaluate our penalty process and figure out what’s an appropriate penalty,” Crouse said.

Crouse said staff is working with Hobbs on a final letter that will notify the airport owner of the water and sewer charges and give him “the opportunity to pay them.”

Steven W King's picture
Joined: 09/16/2010
Posts: 249
Post rating: 216

Faulty Logic and Negative results!

Has anyone taken a few moments to consider the facts surrounding this "tier" system and it's so called purpose?

The facts are that a home like ours with 7 people (4 adults) uses more water than a home with a retired couple. The clothing washer runs non-stop, there are more showers per day, there are more dishes to wash each day, there are more water bottles filled from the refrigerator filter, etc. These things add up to a larger bill from RMCSD already because our water is metered. I routinely pay excess water useage charges, sometimes as much as $85 per month! That translates to roughly $1,000.00 per year for excess water useage charged to our home alone! Isn't that already enough in excess charges for water useage? Does anyone think that we are not already plenty motivated by the bill to reduce our useage where possible and be aware of waste and prevent it?

This is not helpful in the least! What this is is a new tax burden on us! I think the logic behind the proposal is faulty and I believe the result will be ever higher RMCSD bills for the families that already have the highest bills from RMCSD and SMUD because of the necessary useage in running a home of their volume. This takes our earned income that could be spent on goods and services right out of our own community and does absolutely nothing to actually save water.



Raelyn Mobley's picture
Joined: 02/11/2008
Posts: 140
Post rating: 80

Tiered Water Rates

Although I am not a fan of this new tiered water rate system, something has to be done to get people to conserve water.   It is interesting to see some people still have their automatic sprinklers going on in the early morning hours!  I hope we do not get to the point where they limit our water to 50 gallons a day like they are considering in other California communities (http://www.kcra.com/news/state-water-board-considers-50gallon-daily-limit/24549982)!

Jacque Villa's picture
Joined: 07/11/2009
Posts: 539
Post rating: 701

Water Rationing

In the 70's when we had a drought, we lived in the Bay Area......we still had teens at home and they rationed the water only allowing us so many gallons a day!!!  We had to go out and read the meter every morning and keep a talley of our usuage. I must say, that was not fun!!!!!  I would hate to have to do that again just because other folks overuse their water.......

Come on folks, do your part to conserve

Warren Lutey's picture
Joined: 03/20/2009
Posts: 53
Post rating: 38

Good News

Just went by the reservoirs they almost look full!  Must have been a good night of pumping, great job! Still more rain to come, Friday is suppose to be real wet.

Have a good day

Warren J. Lutey

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

Water Waste

I received this e-mail from Judith Embree, she asked that I post it for her on RM.com:

I just returned from the Palm Springs area and am appalled by their flagrant use of water. Fountains flowing everywhere in 80 degree weather, GREEN grass and how many golf courses? On my morning walk there was water running in the gutter from overwatering, the same grass EVERY DAY. Made me really mad that we will conserve and those in an affluent community ignore their own future needs. We saw so many out of state cars and people from other states either don't care or are totally unaware of our dire situation. The resort (time share) had no hand out or information regarding water conservation. I will write them a letter and to the governing board with conservation ideas. Doubt it will help but I have to do it.

You can share this. A lot of RM people go down there and it would help if they did the same to their time share or hotel.


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

some tips for conserving water

Although there are only two of us in our home, we have been trying to conserve for a while. A year 1/2 ago, we had Murieta Plumbling install a Recirculating Pump so that we don't waste water waiting for it to get warm in the shower.  Even though the water gets hot fairly quickly, we put a bucket in the shower to collect the small amount of cold water we still get and when it fills up, we bought a Rain Barrel and put the water in to it, so that when the rain stops and we want to water our plants we can use this water that used to just go down the drain. We already have low flow toilets, and though this might not suit everyone, not flushing the toilet for pee every single time also conserves water  I also wash my hair in the kitchen sink or use the hand held in the shower so that while I'm soaping up, I turn off the water. 

I totally agree with Raelyn about automatic spinklers, it is friggen nuts if anyone still has them on, so turn them off!! I read in the Pipeline that came with our bill, that there has been only a 7% savings in water conservation since Feb. 1st, so clearly, people don't think they personally have to conserve, other people can do that...So, how do you get people to conserve in their homes or their landscape, unless you charge more money for those that use more? 15 years ago, we took all of our grass out and planted draught resistant plants, and our landscaping is totally on a drip system. Yes, it is just the two of us, but we still are conserving every way we can, because the water that is in Lake Calero, and Chesbro, belongs to all of us, and that means that all of us should be doing EVERYTHING we can to conserve it.... even if it is a bit unconfortable to do at the beginning. 

Myrna Solomon

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

The elderly

I still say, there are probably many residents out there that do not know how to adjust their sprinkler controls.  If CSD were proactive, they would send notices to offer their assistance for a minimal fee if needed.  I don't think mailers are the way to go, many just throw them out thinking they are junk.  Maybe the Boy Scouts could leave notices on everyone's door.

Secondly, I'm sure there are some elderly who may not know what's gonig on.  Maybe they have a caretaker or family checking in on them who live here or not and it's possible it hasn't dawned on them that this has not been taken care of, probably the furthest thing from their minds.   So, we as neighbors, should think of them and reach out whether it be to offer our assistance or notify CSD so they can initiate contact by a phone call in a nonaccusatory way.

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