Bolinas Community Public Utility District
A Special Meeting  Of  The Board  Of  Directors
March 07, 2012           270 Elm Road, Bolinas


1.   Call to Order.

    7:31 p.m.

2.   Roll

    Directors Amoroso, Kimball, Siedman and Smith present; director Bender attending by telephone.  Director Siedman presiding.

3.   Community Expression.


4.    Mesa Park Ballfield Irrigation and Public Restroom Project:  Approve Revised Project Budget; Approve Revised License for Use of Irrigation Well.

    Directors Siedman and Amoroso met with Bryan Lee and Patricia Hickey of Mesa Park recently to discuss the revised project budget and license agreement and the Mesa Park Board approved both documents at its meeting on March 5, 2012.   In response to a question from Stacey Henderson, director Siedman explained that the matching funds for the project budget are from a variety of sources, including the County of Marin, Maggiora & Ghilotti, as well as $144,000 in funds for the sewer lateral connection for the bathrooms from the Firehouse & Clinic project.

K. Bender/B/ Kimball        all in favor    to approve the revised project budget for the Mesa Park Ballfield Irrigation and Public Restroom Project.

    Director Siedman noted that the Board determined it was necessary to revise the license agreement to address comments from nearby property owner Bob Cart and to provide the district with flexibility in connection with its water supply study.  Director Amoroso added that the license also needs to reflect that an additional use of the water by Mesa Park will be to flush the public toilets to be installed near the ballfields.  In response to questions from Stacey Henderson, director Siedman explained that a meter will be installed at the irrigation well to monitor usage and that the 14,800 daily use amount was established on the basis of the storage capacity of the water tanks at Mesa Park.  Discussion ensued about specific language to revise sections 1(a) and 1(b) of the license agreement.

D. Smith/B. Kimball        all in favor    to approve the license agreement, as revised.

5.   Water Supply Augmentation Project:  Discuss Study of Potential Water Supply Sources.

Director Siedman noted that Rob Gailey, a licensed consulting hydrogeologist, is present to talk with the Board on how to proceed with its planned study of potential water supply sources which, at present, is specifically focused on groundwater in light of the installation of the Mesa Park irrigation well discussed in the previous agenda item.  The question presented for the district is whether there is the potential to augment the district’s potable water supply with groundwater sourced from district property.  Director Smith commented that he is interested in understanding the aquifer and how it might behave over time, particularly given the proximity to the ocean (and the fact that the well is far below sea level in depth) and climate change predictions indicating the future may present protracted droughts.

Rob Gailey began his remarks by noting that the issues to be evaluated with regard to the groundwater on BCPUD property include both the quantity of the groundwater and the quality of the groundwater.  He noted that in some cases it is possible to obtain a lot of groundwater from a well, but the quality is bad and therefore treating the water to acceptable standards can be very expensive.  As for the hydrogeology of this particular aquifer, he suggested the Board to envision the BCPUD property on which the well is located as a swimming pool:  if the pool is filled with sand, and water is then poured in, the water will fill the gaps between the sand particles.  If a well is installed into the “swimming pool” and the water is pumped out, the water level in the pool will drop.  If it rains, the water in the pool is recharged and, if the ground around the pool slopes toward the pool (as the BCPUD property does), then even more water can shed into it and recharge the pool.  The difficulty is calculating or predicting the precise recharge rate as some of the water runs off or evaporates . 

    Rob then suggested that the Board envision that one of the side of the swimming pool is removed such that the sand filling the pool is connected directly to the sand surrounding the pool on one side. In this instance, the water recharging the pool is going somewhere, perhaps discharging to a surface body of water such as the Bolinas Lagoon or the ocean.   As such, if some of the water in the “pool” is intercepted via well pumping, then the dynamics of that system is being disrupted which raises the concept of  “safe yield”, or the amount of water that can be withdrawn without undesirable effects.   On a related note, Rob explained that the groundwater in contact with the porous sand medium has its own chemical nature; in effect, as it remains in the ground it takes on character of the solids.  Hence, water quality will vary depending on the sediments in which the water resides. 

    Rob stated that it is his opinion that the use of the well by Mesa Park does not have the potential for undesirable effects (and he stated as much in an opinion letter that he provided in connection with the district’s CEQA analysis for the project).  The question now is:  how much more water is there?  Rob said his best conceptual model to discuss this is the three-sided swimming pool, where the headwall of the valley is toward the intersection of Mesa and Olema-Bolinas Roads.  Rob noted that Mesa Park first attempted to install an irrigation well near Mesa Road toward Overlook Road; the drilling company went down 70 feet and the shavings came up too hot to hold and bone dry, meaning that the soil below consisted of tightly compacted material unlikely to produce water.  As such, that side of the valley is tantamount to a  concrete wall.  Rob said it is similarly unlikely that the other two sides of the swimming pool (one parallel to Mesa Road and the other is the Francisco Mesa) will pass very much water.  If so, then the source of recharge for the irrigation well is rainfall that concentrates and runs down there.  

Rob suggested that the district can monitor the existing well in operation to obtain more data or perhaps install a test hole to do so.  He commented that the water quality of this well is not very good:  the hardness in quite high, as are total dissolved solids, iron and manganese.  As a result of this relatively high mineral content, the water likely does not taste good.  Director Smith inquired if the district could do something relatively simple, such as install a pressure transducer in the well, to evaluate the impact on the water level in the well of the pumping by Mesa Park (by evaluating the water level when the pump is off).  Rob agreed this would be a viable means by which to evaluate how the aquifer is responding over time.

    Stacey Henderson said she had heard that there were two aquifers tapped by the well.  Rob reviewed the well log and said it wasn’t clear, but this isn’t a typical aquifer;  he said he does a lot of work in the Central Valley and based on his experience, the well log indicates that this area of Bolinas does not produce a lot of water.  In response to questions from director Amoroso, Rob noted that the district staff performed a short well test in the field which suggested the well would produce at perhaps 15-20 gallons per minute.  Director Amoroso noted that this was far less than the rumors he was hearing in town of the well producing 100 gallons per minute; he said that the district wants to determine the potential for the groundwater as cost-efficiently as possible. 

    Director Siedman asked if Rob has a specific protocol to recommend for the district to evaluate the groundwater.  Rob said that a protocol will depend on the district’s cost considerations with respect to treating the water (which, as noted above, can be very expensive) as well as water quantity determinations.  As for the quantity of water, Rob said that if he had to guess, he thinks it is unlikely that there is much water in this relatively little valley as it does not have a big catchment or permeable sediments.

Stacey Henderson noted that the district has had a moratorium in place for 40 years due to a genuine lack of water; given that, she feels it is imperative for the district to determine whether there is any water to be had for the community from this well.  She agreed that it needs to be cost-effective.  Director Amoroso noted that the district is in violation of the chlorine disinfection byproduct rules when it uses its reservoir water supply; as such, the district should determine whether groundwater could be the district’s back-up water supply rather than the reservoirs (which could be reserved solely for firefighting).  In addition, more water might mean that the district could lift individual water restrictions that have been placed on many of the district’s customers.

Rob said that if one assumes that water treatment is going to occur (to address the quality of water issue), then the issue to evaluate first is quantity in order to decide whether it is worthwhile to proceed further.  He said that a thorough pumping test and the installation of 2 -3  monitoring wells might be the first next step in order to look for boundary effects and determine the overall size of the aquifer.  Each well would need to be at least 80-feet deep and he estimated the cost at approximately $10,000 per well (fully burdened).  Discussion ensued about the length of time period to monitor the well (to account for both wet and dry years) and other approaches such as the installation of a pressure transducer.  Rob agreed that the installation of the pressure transducer would be a logical next step given the district’s emphasis on cost-effectiveness and its willingness to spend the time needed to evaluate the resulting data.  In response to a question from director Smith, Rob said that the district also can perform periodic general mineral chemistry panels to test the quality of the water over time as Mesa Park pumps the well.  Rob commended the Board for considering all issues carefully and proceeding efficiently in light of the uncertainties going forward.

At the conclusion of the meeting, there was Board consensus to install a pressure transducer in the existing well, proceed with the Mesa Park irrigation project and monitor the response of the aquifer to the pumping of well water for that project.  After an adequate time period sufficient to evaluate the well water supply and quality during a continuum of environmental conditions, a decision will be made to determine next steps, if any, to further evaluate the potential of this aquifer as a source to augment the district’s potable water supply.

6.  Adjournment.
    9:10 p.m.