Public Utility District
Special Meeting Of The Board Of
January 28, 2009 270 Elm Road, Bolinas
1. Call to Order
Directors Amoroso, Kimball, McClellan, Siedman and Smith present; director
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
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,
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
Although circumstances may change, staff is making the
following assumptions to form its recommendation that the Board adopt mandatory
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
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
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.