1. Call to Order.
Directors Amoroso, Godino, Siedman and Smith present, director Comstock absent. Director Siedman presiding.
3. Community Expression.
4. Marin County Local Agency Formation Commission (“LAFCO”): Election for LAFCO Special District Member and Special District Representative Alternate; BCPUD Letter re: LAFCO Proposed Work Plan and Proposed Increase in Special District Financial Contributions.
V. Amoroso/D. Smith four in favor, director Comstock absent to vote for the following candidates ranked as follows for the special district regular member of the LAFCO: Meigs (#1), Kious (#2), and Kai (#3).
D. Smith/G. Godino four in favor, director Comstock absent to vote for the following candiates ranked as follows for the special district alternate member of the LAFCO: Kious (#1), Kai (#2), and Beedle (#3).
With regard to LAFCO’s proposed work plan and proposed increase on special district financial contributions, director Smith said that in the interest of efficiency – which is what LAFCO is supposed to promote among local government agencies – LAFCO should be making better use of its member districts than it has been, which may reduce its costs. He also expressed concern about the somewhat regulatory nature of a section of the work plan. The Board directed staff to work with director Smith to prepare a letter of comment from the BCPUD to the LAFCO on its proposed work plan and the proposed increase in special districts’ financial contributions.
5. Land Stewardship Committee: Presentation of Materials for Bolinas Museum Exhibit re: the Sewer Pond Property.
The Board reviewed materials prepared by Genie McNaughton, other members of the Committee, and local residents concerning the BCPUD’s sewer pond property for an upcoming exhibit at the Bolinas Museum. Director Amoroso raised questions about the materials submitted by Jeff Creque concerning the establishment of the Resource Recovery Center and Genie agreed to follow-up with him outside of the meeting to address his concerns. The Board provided additional comments and corrections, as did Janine Aroyan, and the Board thanked Genie for her hard work to prepare the museum exhibits.
6. BCPUD Financial Reserve Policy; BCPUD Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan.
V. Amoroso/D. Smith all in favor to approve the BCPUD’s financial reserve policy.
Staff reported that the Finance Committee is still working on the Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan, so it will be submitted to the Board for approval at the April regular meeting.
7. Water Supply Update: Installation of Monitoring Wells; Other Potential Next Steps in Water Supply Study.
Director Siedman thanked Rob Gailey for the cost information he provided about the installation of monitoring wells and noted that at the Board’s regular meeting the previous week, there was a lot of discussion on the topic; he said Board members are uncertain about the value of the information to be derived from the potential installation of monitoring wells and the considerable costs involved. Rob said he understands the Board’s reticence and noted that there are always considerable uncertainties when exploring subsurface hydrologic conditions. He reminded the Board that it decided three years ago to start its water supply study by obtaining data that was relatively easy and cost-effective to get; as such, the district installed the pressure transducer in the irrigation well and began collecting monthly water quality samples. This has provided the district important baseline information about the well, and the district will learn more now that the Mesa Park project has been installed and the field irrigation system is in use.
Rob said that the pressure transducer in the well measures changes in the water level when the well is in use. It has not rained very much in the last three years, but the water levels in the well have come back up; this prompts the question -- where is the water coming from? This question is important given the potential for seawater intrustion. Two years ago, Rob recommended and the district commenced taking monthly TDS samples to understand the salinity of the well water. Thus far, the samples indicate TDS ranges in the 500-1000 range, whereas seawater is 37,000 TDS. Again, this is important baseline data to have; if the TDS levels start to rise, it will be an indicator to the district.
As for the quantity of water in the aquifer, Rob said that he does not think there is a lot of water there. Ideally, the district should understand where the freshwater supplying the well is coming from and in what quantity; if it knows this, is can adjust its draw on the well to responsibly manage it and not induce seawater intrusion. He suggested the district could start with the installation of monitoring wells close to the existing well to measure how much water is flowing past the well and from what direction. For example, there is a very marshy and wet area behind the lumber yard – where is that water coming from and is the well pulling from that source?
Director Siedman asked whether, if more water is drawn from the well than flows past/replenishes the well, seawater intrusion will occur and, if so, whether that effect is reversible. Rob responded that seawater intrusion could occur under that circumstance and it would take a considerable amount of time to reverse. Director Siedman asked where monitoring wells should be installed. Rob said his information on costs identified four potential well sites – two shallow and two deep. Discussion ensued about the hydrologic reasons for the specific well locations and depths, as well the possible use of seismic refraction technology to locate the bottom of the “valley” underneath the irrigation well. Rob cautioned that the soil consistency is not uniform, and the interface between seawater and freshwater is not sharp. He suggested that the district could install a flow meter on the existing well to monitor the pumping in real time, and it could install the four monitoring wells nearby with pressure transducers in each of them – this would enable the distict to monitor how the water levels are changing, calculate the hydrologic gradients, estimate the flow range going past the well (i.e., what is available for interception), and calculate whether it is in balance. Rob said that it also would be advisable to do some assessment of the nearby area and figure out where the water behind the lumber yard is coming from. In response to a question from director Smith, Rob said this likely would cost approximately $60,000 - $70,000.
Director Amoroso said that is a lot of money for a small district and queried whether Rob thinks the district could get a state grant to fund the study. Rob said that he is an appointee to the state advisory panel for the groundwater management and, in his experience, grant funds tend to go primarily to highly populated districts and to districts in disadvantaged communities -- as such, he would not be very optimistic about the BCPUD’s odds of receiving grant funds. Director Amoroso expressed concern that the district might expend $70,000 with no assurance of a significant benefit to its customers, particularly given Rob’s view that there isn’t very much water in the aquifer. Rob agreed and asked the Board what percentage of the district’s annual consumption would it be worthwhile to invest in; Directors Smith and Amoroso both said the district has a commitment to its obligation to augment its water supply if possible. Rob said he could make some rough calculations about the potential additional amount of water that can be responsibly extracted and that perhaps would help inform the Board’s decision. Director Smith said it would be a great start and that he doesn’t feel like he has enough information right now to decide on the best next step; he also said that the data to be collected this year, with the Mesa Park irrigation system in use, should also be informative.
Discussion ensued about the scope of a report to be prepared by Rob for the Board’s consideration, including an analysis of all of the data obtained by the district to date in addition to his estimates of possible flows. Rob said it will be important to watch the recovered water level in the well over the course of the year; if it starts to change significantly, this will be important. He said it also will help him estimate the cone of depression around the well. Director Smith referenced the marshy area behind the lumber yard and asked whether it makes sense to install a pipe and level sensor there to monitor water levels. Rob said that would be considered a “stilling well”, but changes in the water level at that location could be attributed to many things – there could be seepage into the ground, or an outflow – and he would not advocate that as a next step. He reminded the Board that the well pumping is happening at about 80 feet down (or 60 feet below sea level) because that is where the top of the well screen is. Director Amoroso said he has heard that there is some sand in the well water. Rob said that when the well was installed, it may not have been fully “developed”, which means the well is plunged and the fine material is mobilized and pumped out; if this is not done at the time of installation, then the fine material will be dislodged when the pump is used. The best way to resolve this is to fully develop the well.
Director Siedman said that in light of the foregoing discussion, he is inclined to recommend that Rob prepare the report as discussed (i.e., assessment of all data obtained to date, and estimates of likely water flow/quantities) and that the district continue with its current monitoring program. Rob estimated that the report will require 20 – 40 hours of his time, for a cost of $3600 - $7200.
V. Amoroso/G. Godino four in favor, director Comstock absent to authorize Rob Gailey to prepare a report analyzing the data obtained to date, as well as providing estimates of potential water flows/supply, at a cost not to exceed $7,500 to be paid for from the water supply study budget (funded by a portion of the proceeds from the district’s sale of its Pine Gulch Creek property to the National Park Service).