Bolinas Community Public Utility District
A Special  Meeting  Of  The Board  Of  Directors
January 28, 2009     270 Elm Road, Bolinas

1.  Call to Order

5:00 p.m.

2.  Roll

Directors Amoroso, Kimball, McClellan, Siedman and Smith present; director Siedman presiding.

3.  Resolution 575:  Declaring a Prolonged Drought Condition in the Bolinas Community Public Utility District and Implementing Mandatory Conservation Measures Pursuant to a Previously Established Water Shortage Emergency.

    Director Siedman told the assembled attendees that he would like to make a few introductory remarks.  He said that the reason for the meeting is the drought and its implications for the water supply in Bolinas;  he said that the meeting is not to discuss global warming, or environmental issues, but rather to discuss how fairly and equitably allocate a limited amount of water.  One approach would be to reduce the amount allotted to each customer on a percentage basis, but this approach effectively rewards high users and punishes the frugal.  Another approach is to limit each household to a set number of gallons per day, but this does not account for the number of people living in each household.  Flexibility will be needed as the district heads into the summer and fall months, particularly given the uncertainties about further rainfall this year.

    Staff referred the Board and attendees to packets of information in the meeting room containing the following documents:

1)  A copy of draft Resolution 575, which declares a local prolonged drought condition, issues a water supply alert and implements mandatory rationing measures.  Based on Board feedback at the January 21st regular meeting, some revisions have been made to the resolution to provide for a special category of business/public entity/multi-use building customers, as well as a “special exemption” process for customers to request adjustments to the ration amount.

2)    Alternative special exemption language for the Board to consider.

3)  Ordinance 37 – staff has prepared a draft ordinance to implement rationing because if the Board wants to include a scheme of fines as part of the district’s enforcement system, it will need to enact an ordinance in addition to (or in place of) a resolution. 

4)  The text of a boxholder and customer mailing which will be delivered on Friday if the Board passes Resolution 575 tonight; this mailing informs the public about the water rationing and will be translated into Spanish, as well.

5)  The text of a “high water use notice” to be hand-delivered to all customers using more than the water ration amount (based on historic usage data over the past two years) beginning tomorrow.

6)    The text of a customer inquiry received by the district about the impact of water rationing on district revenues; this customer also asks why the district did not start rationing earlier. 

7)  Copies of the district’s most recent mailings (in July and December of 2008) to all customers requesting enhanced voluntary conservation efforts.

    Staff referred to the memo to the Board from the district’s Chief Operator, which is attached as Exhibit A to draft Resolution 575 and which sets forth the circumstances which have led staff to recommend that the district enact mandatory water rationing measures:  (1) a prolonged drought condition – both 2007 and 2008 were unusually dry and the Governor declared a state-wide drought in June 2008; (2) the district’s on-going requests for voluntary conservation have not resulted in a sufficient reduction in customer water consumption;  (3) to date, the district has received less than 8 inches of rain this winter, which is about 25% of average, and no significant rain is in the forecast; (4)  the district’s reservoirs are only 38% full because the district was forced to use this emergency water supply last summer and fall to supplement the creek flow – at present, the district has only about 19 acre feet of emergency water currently available, or 6,000,000 gallons (the reservoirs’ combined capacity is 56 acre feet); (5)  the Arroyo Hondo stream flows are about 60 gallons per minute right now, which is characteristic of a late-summer flow rate; and (6)  customer demand is creeping up due to the dry and warm weather conditions.  Staff emphasized that overall district consumption must be reduced in order for the district to have sufficient emergency water in its reservoirs to get through 2009.

    Although circumstances may change, staff is making the following assumptions to form its recommendation that the Board adopt mandatory conservation measures:

    1.  The district will receive no significant rainfall until December 1, 2009;

    2.    The district has 19 acre feet of available emergency water in its reservoirs; and

    3.    The Arroyo Hondo Creek will continue to flow at an average rate of 50 gallons per minute during 2009.

Staff noted that the third assumption is particularly uncertain; without further rainfall, the creek may not continue to flow at this rate throughout 2009 and further adjustments to the ration amount may be required.  On the other hand, if the district does receive additional rainfall in 2009, it may be possible to revise the ration amount upward and/or eliminate it altogether.  Based on the above three assumptions, staff has determined that customer consumption district-wide must be limited to 92,000 gallons per day, which translates into a ration of 150 gallons per day per service connection, with exceptions made for certain businesses, public institutions and multi-use buildings and provision made for sufficient water to be available for firefighting purposes.

    Staff explained that it is recommending a per service connection ration allotment (rather than a percentage reduction or specific use prohibitions) as the most fair, objective and value-neutral approach;  in addition, the district is in the best position to enforce a per-service connection use limitation.  Of course, staff encourages customers to conserve even more than the ration amount if they are able to do so.  Based on district records, approximately 330 of the district’s 581 active service connections already consume less than the ration amount;  accordingly, the district’s education and outreach, as well as its enforcement efforts, will be focused on those customers historically consuming more than the ration amount.  The mandatory conservation program will be in effect for the duration of the drought and water supply alert.  Customers violating the daily ration amount will receive a maximum of two written warnings (and the district has the option to install a flow restricting device on the customers service line); upon a third violation, water service will be discontinued.  To reestablish water service, the affected customer will first meet with staff and agree upon a compliance plan;  when water service is restored, the customer’s usage will be monitored and any further violations will be referred to the Board of Directors.

    Director Siedman opened the meeting to comments from the Board and public on the staff’s recommendation and proposed text of Resolution 575.

    David Kimball inquired as to what the lowest flow might be for the Arroyo Hondo Creek this year.   Chief Operator Bill Pierce said that is an unknown:  County records are being broken this year and it is as dry as anyone has ever seen it;  the district is facing potentially unprecedented circumstances.  The Arroyo Hondo Creek flows from springs in the park; the district usually sees a  spike in consumption once the rains stop and winds start – usually for garden and landscape irrigation.  However, this spike does not occur in years when the district experiences late rains.  Last year, however, the rains stopped in February and the district was forced to turn to its reservoirs to meet demand in March.  The district’s reservoirs are filled by runoff, so it is the heavy rains that result in runoff to the reservoirs. 

    In response to questions about the district’s enforcement approach, Chief Operator Pierce explained that after the district conducts its education and outreach to its highest users, its monitoring efforts will begin with a baseline reading of all meters (starting with the highest users first).  District staff will then follow-up immediately with additional readings to monitor water consumption as closely as possible.  Staff will be reading meters every day.  As noted previously, approximately 60 percent of the district’s customers already consume less than the ration amount;  Bill estimates than another 100 customers are consuming close to the ration amount and should be able to comply relatively easily.

    In response to questions whether the district is losing significant amounts of water via the distribution system and how the district will cope with the loss of water sales revenue, director Amoroso stated that when he first joined the Board in 1981, the district’s water loss was approximately 38% of production;  at present, the loss is about 12% of production, which is relatively standard.  As for the drop in water sales revenue, the district does not receive all of its revenue via water sales as many districts do; rather, it has an annual service charge, an allocation of County property tax revenue and water sales funds.  Although revenue certainly will fall to some extent, the district is fairly well positioned to absorb the impact. 

    Several customers inquired about exceptions to the 150 gallon per day amount for larger households.  Howard Dillon said he had been quite worried about this, but upon inquiry to the district he learned that the average usage at his connection is 109 gallons per day, even with 5 adult residents at the property.  Director Siedman noted that there is a special exemption process available under the resolution.  Several persons stated that a per person allotment would be more fair than a per service connection allotment;  staff responded that such a system would be extremely difficult to implement and enforce because the district does not have any reliable data as to how many people reside at each property. 

    Director Smith said that he would like to discuss the special exemption provision.  He said there are reasons why some customers may need more water than others;  while the resolution makes exceptions for certain customers (businesses, public institutions and multi-use buildings), it does not account for properties with lots of people living there.  He suggested setting a minimum of 20 gallons of water per day per person to preserve public health and provide staff guidance when assessing special exemption requests.  So, for example, if ten people are living at one property, a ration amount of 200 gallons per day may be necessary to protect public health.  Referring to the proposed special exemption language in the resolution, director Smith said he favors allowing staff to make exemption determinations administratively rather than require applicants to come to the Board at a public meeting because he does not want to deter people from coming forward to make legitimate public health exemption requests.  Director Kimball agreed and said she feels the staff can handle requests confidentially, unless a request needs to be handled by the Board.

    Persons in attendance offered additional comments, such as encouraging the district to explore expanding it emergency water supply reservoirs and investigate for additional water sources such as the National Park Service reservoir on Mesa Road or desalinization of ocean water.  Discussion also ensued about the current legal impediments to re-using greywater; how to install rain catchment systems; and whether composting toilets are a realistic possibility.    

    Bill Pierce commented that the district’s existing reservoirs were built after the mid-1970’s drought and have served the district very well for 40 years (many of which were quite dry).  He expressed confidence that the community will quickly come into compliance with the ration provisions and that the district will make it through to December 1st with an adequate water supply.  However, it will be necessary for all customers to take the requirements seriously because the alarm for this year is quite real. 

    Director McClellan moved to pass Resolution 575 and director Kimball seconded the motion.  Director Smith said he would like to amend the resolution to provide that where BCPUD knows or it can be demonstrated that a specific number of people live at the property, staff can approve a limit of 20 gallons per person per day.  Director Amoroso said he would prefer to see the resolution passed as written and have anyone seeking an exemption to go through the administrative process.  The Board agreed that the alternative special exemption language should be included in the resolution to allow staff to make confidential determinations.

J. McClellan/B. Kimball    all in favor    to pass Resolution 575 with the special exemption amended as discussed

4.    Community Expression.

5.    Adjournment.

6:38 p.m.