The Rancho Santa Fe Post

November Water News… From the Desk of Marlene King, SFID Director, Div. 3

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November 17th Board Meeting: A 3-2 vote affirmed another rate hike taking effect January 1, 2017 which will be reflected on bills mailed out after March 1, 2017 (Solana Beach Directors Hogan, Daddi and Smerican voted in the affirmative, with RSF Directors Gruzdowich and King voting against).

Wholesale Pass-Through Costs: This second year of the three-year rate hike approved 3-2 at the May 19th 2016 Board meeting has increases from the MWD (Metropolitan Water District) and SDCWA (San Diego County Water Authority). These wholesalers’ pass-through commodity rates and fixed charges adjustments will be reflected in your fixed meter rate. This is the first time wholesale pass-throughs will show up on individual bills, as previously these wholesale costs had not been passed through to individual customers, but had been paid from reserve funds.

SDCWA pass-through increases were four-fold:

  • Infrastructure Access: +4%
  • Customer Service: +14.7%
  • Storage: +18%
  • Supply Reliability (desalination plant): +7.5%

MWD pass-through costs will decrease this cycle:

  • MWD Capacity fees: -20.5%
  • MWD Readiness to Serve fees: -12.5% (MWD charges are based on five and ten year rolling averages of S.F.I.D. water demands)

The increases to the commodity rates have three components:

  • Untreated Water/Acre Feet: +9.6%
  • Treated Water/Acre Feet: +8.0% 
  • Transportation Charges/Acre Feet: +4.8%

Water Usage Continues to Rise:

  • October demand was only 2% less than the October 2013 baseline year.
  • October 2016 usage translates, district-wide, to 437 residential gallons/capita/day.

Advanced Weather and Lake Evaporation Monitoring System purchased for Lake Hodges: On a unanimous vote, the Board voted to purchase a sophisticated weather station for Lake Hodges. S.F.I.D. has rights to a percentage of the water in Lake Hodges; therefore, it is of particular importance to know how much water is in the lake. Currently, the City of San Diego attempts to manually collect weather and evaporation data once a week by the “land pan method,” however, this only happens if the City staff member actually drives out to Lake Hodges every week. Some of you may have used the “land pan method” to determine if you have a leak in your swimming pool by placing a bucket of water on your swimming pool step and comparing the level of evaporation in the bucket with the level of evaporation in your pool.

The land pan method has some significant shortfalls: wildlife can drink from the land pan, thereby distorting collection data, and water in the land pan absorbs heat at a different rate than water in the lake. Recent studies indicate that land pan methods can distort data more than 25%. Cor Schaffer, Operations Manager for the District, wrote the staff report which had the following interesting information:

”Only recently have scientists discovered that evaporation peaks several months after the hottest summer months in freshwater lakes. The existing land pan-based evaporation measurements do not take into account the heat storage capacity of the water in the lake and its subsequent impact on lake evaporation. Heat energy stored in large lakes over the summer months is released near the end of summer causing increased evaporation rates.

We will also be integrating water quality data collected from our Water Quality Profiler in the cloud-based system so that we can more accurately predict lake turn-over events and conditions that lead to algae blooms.”

Once the new Advanced Weather and Lake Evaporation Monitoring System is up and running, one of the beneficial outcomes will be the ability to carefully manage the timing of drawing down water from Lake Hodges to maximize our percentage rights to the water in the lake.

Directors Alan Smerican and Greg Gruzdowich step down from the SFID Board: November’s Board meeting was the last for Directors Smerican and Gruzdowich. The winners of the November General Election are David Petree of Solana Beach, who will take over Smerican’s seat, and Kenneth Dunford of RSF, who returns to the Board to again serve in Gruzdowich’s seat.