December 15th Board Meeting: Three main issues were addressed at the December Board meeting: the acceptance of the FY 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR); fund transfer from the Rate Stabilization Reserve Fund to Operating Fund; and latest news from the State Water Resources Control Board and Department of Water Resources on carrying out Gov. Brown’s Executive Order B-37-16, “Making Water Conservation a Way of Life”.
As a result, the Board unanimously voted to transfer $3,618,075 from the Rate Stabilization Reserve Fund to Operating Fund. This transfer left the Rate Stabilization Fund balance at $509,706, well below the District’s minimum balance allowed policy of $2,330,486. Staff noted that the District could transfer funds from the Capital Improvement and Replacement Fund to bring the Stabilization Fund within minimum allowed balance, but since FY’17 will continue to experience a significant draw down of the CIP budget due several large infrastructure projects nearing completion, staff did not propose an additional fund transfer to bolster the Rate Stabilization Fund balance. It remains to be seen how the Rate Stabilization Fund balance looks at the end of FY’17.
“Making Water Conservation a Way of Life”: Staffer Jessica Parks provided an overview of how the SWRCB, DWR, Public Utilities Commission, Ca. Dept. of Food and Agriculture and Ca. Energy Commission are proposing to implement the Governor’s Executive Order. A significant component of the plan is currently to impose water budgets on water providers throughout the state. S.F.I.D. could be told it can only sell “X” amount of water - based on size of properties, number of residents, native plant requirements, evapotranspiration rates, water efficient irrigation devices, etc. (The intention is for these agencies to establish interim targets starting 2018, with full compliance by 2025.) After the start of 2017, this issue will move from the above-mentioned agencies to the State Legislature where elected officials will take a firm whack at these groundbreaking mandates. This link will take you to the 72 page Draft Report.
Water Usage in November 2016: Customers continued to increase their water usage. November 2016 was +3% over the 2013 baseline year. If you recall, the SWRCB required our District customers to reduce their water usage 35% from the baseline year of 2013. Presently, the cumulative water savings from June 2015 to November 2016 stands at 25%. The cumulative savings from June 2016 to November 2016 is 13%.
And Now…for Something out of this World…
- Want to check into what NASA is up to in their search for clues to past water activity on Mars?
- Are you keeping an eye on the Juno probe to Jupiter that left Earth August 2011 and entered Jupiter’s orbit July 4th 2016? One of Juno’s main objectives is to “follow the water.”
- Want to learn the answer to the question posed in the Frank Sinatra standard, “Fly me to the Moon”? Let me see what spring is like on, a Jupiter and Mars. Well…NASA’s twin rover geologists, Spirit and Opportunity, have lived through several Mars springs, and reported back that spring can be very, very windy. Juno will be sending back data on springtime on Jupiter.
- Are you plagued by dropped cell calls and rotten reception? Learn how NASA solved that problem with it’s Deep Space Network (DSN). There are now giant radio antennas at only three locations on earth: Goldstone (near Barstow, Ca.), Madrid, Spain, and Canberra, Australia; these antennas receive and transmit telemetry between rovers, probes and satellites sent by humans into deep space. “Several times per week, the DSN antennas capture signals from the two Voyager spacecraft, which are exploring the edge of interstellar space. Their signal has a received power 20 billion times weaker than that of a digital wristwatch.” NASA/JPL website.
- Do you wish your daughter or niece or granddaughter was more turned on by science, by the STEM curricula? See what NASA, and particularly the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is now doing to attract more females to the game. Learn why women scientists in France are dying to work at JPL. Learn how many JPL engineers and technicians say their early interest in space can be traced to watching Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek television show.
- Could you use a dose of pride in American ingenuity, hard work and general stick-to-it-tiveness? Review the history of two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, which were designed to operate only ninety days. They successfully landed on Mars January 2004. Spirit got stuck in a sand trap it could not extricate itself from in 2009, but Opportunity is still slowly trucking on the Red Planet, twelve years later. Learn how the JPL team of scientists, engineers and technicians have taken these two robots, designed for ninety days, and successfully worked through a passel of fascinating challenges – wheels that stopped working, complete software upgrades for their third anniversary giving the robots artificial intelligence to decide when they want to move their arms, what rocks they want to pick to investigate, and what data they want to transmit. Revel in how JPL problem solved Opportunity’s middle-age “amnesia”, how JPL learned to nurse the robot geologists through the extremely harsh Martian winters that play havoc with battery life, requiring them to put themselves into hibernation to give them the chance of living through another winter to be able to send out the ping to the Deep Space Network that says “I’m still here”.
Click onto NASA Juno probe to Jupiter. Click onto NASA JPL, Mars rovers. Click onto JPL Deep Space Network, and view live feed from the big dishes. Wikipedia is great, especially for the “life and times” of Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. NASA enjoys setting up Twitter accounts for the assets they have sent into Deep Space. Click onto the staff profiles to learn what motivated folks to devote themselves to the pursuit of pure science.
Enjoy. Discover. Learn. It’s your tax dollars at work.