The Rancho Santa Fe Post

May Water News from the Desk of Marlene E. King SFID Director Div. 3

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Recap of April 25th Board Workshop on Cost of Service and Water Rates:

It was a very productive workshop. Staff gave an overview of the rate process and Carollo Engineers’ Pierce Rossum, the newly hired Project Manager for the District’s 2018 Cost of Service Study, gave a PowerPoint presentation on the rate process. (Please note: media presented during Board meetings is made available to the public by going to the District’s website, clicking onto the specific Board or Workshop date, and then clicking on the “media” icon. Media is posted to the website after the meeting date.)

In addition to District staff and Carollo’s Pierce Rossum’s presentations, the Rancho Santa Fe Association gave a formal presentation entitled, “Proposition 218 Critique & Recommendation on Future Water Rates”. The RSFA has been engaging the services of a nationally recognized expert on water rates, C. (Kees) Corssmit PhD; attorney Jeremy Jungreis and attorney Ben Benumof, PhD, Esq. Special Counsel, who was the lead attorney representing the group of San Juan Capistrano ratepayers who successfully challenged the City of San Juan Capistrano’s water rate structure.

The RSF Association’s Ad Hoc Water Committee has been meeting with District staff for over a year to discuss their concerns about the previous Cost of Service Study rate structure, in particular how it increased the rates of large water users. In addition to Ad Hoc Committee members, RSFA Board Members and Association Management have been attending SFID monthly Board meetings, sending formal correspondence to SFID Board and Staff, and continuing to advocate to “Ensure Cost of Service Study considers all relevant factors associated with ensuring Santa Fe Irrigation District’s rates are fair, proportional, and compliant with state law”. (Quote from RSFA PowerPoint at April 25th Workshop.) The RSA Association has committed a considerable amount of their Association members’ money to pursue its clearly stated concerns about the current water rate structure.

I was elected to serve SFID Div. 3, representing SFID service addresses in Fairbanks Ranch (about 60% of Fairbanks properties) and Covenant properties in the middle to eastern part of the District. The majority of large properties in the Covenant are in Div. 3, as is the RSFA golf club. SFID division boundaries are divided on census population, with the intent for the five divisions to have equal populations. Division 3 has the greatest land mass of the five divisions, owing to Div. 3 serving the majority of large orchard properties. Speaking as Div. 3 Director, I am proud and grateful that RSFA constituents have stepped up to the plate to put their money where their mouth is. The RSFA has engaged SFID in a responsible, professional, public-minded, and transparent manner to address their concerns about the way in which the 2015 Cost of Service Study was structured. I look forward to hearing from members of the public as Carollo Engineers reports on their COSS analysis.

April 19, 2018 Regular SFID Board Meeting:

The April meeting had the first cut look at the FY19 Budget, and the agenda packet had two rather interesting Consent Calendar reports: OPEB Actuarial Valuation Report (CalPERS-required “Other Post-Employment Benefits reset) and the updated SFID Asset Management Master Plan Asset Valuation. The AMMP valuation in 2008 placed a value on infrastructure at 288 million. The 2018 infrastructure valuation came in at 489 million, with additional “soft costs” (Design, Construction Management, District Labor and construction contingencies) of approximately 40% of the construction costs.

May 17, 2018 Regular Meeting of the SFID Board of Directors:

A discussion of the FY19 Budget will be front and center for the May meeting. As usual, meetings start at 8:30am, and members of the public are encouraged/legally guaranteed to speak for three minutes on agenda items, and/or any topic of concern not on the agenda.

Next SFID Board Workshop:

Tuesday, May 29, 2018, 8:30 am – noon. Topics are currently slated to be Regulatory Issues – Long Term Water Use Efficiency Standards - Budget Workshop, and depending on the progress of Carollo’s Pierce Rossum, there could be a report on the 2018 Cost of Service Study analysis. All are welcome, and the SFID Board created extended public comment time allowances and rules for group presentations during Workshops. (See District staff for particulars.)

What’s all this buzz about a “Water Tax”?:

You may have noticed an up tick in articles about State Senate Bill 623 (Monning Bill) and the similarly structured Governor’s Trailer Bill which would add a monthly fee to each Californian’s water bill to pay for disadvantaged communities who currently do not have access to safe drinking water. While I don’t want to argue the merits of the proposed bills, I did want to clarify for those of you who have a fire meter on your property, in addition to the regular potable water meter, that both legislative bills have language which exempt fire meters from the proposed monthly fee. Also, meters which provide reclaimed water are also exempt from the fee. Finally, for large properties that might have a number of potable meters – properties with orchards, for example – the maximum fee per property is currently proposed at ten dollars a month, regardless of the number and size of the potable water meters at a single service address.

March 2018 water usage:

SFID’s residential gallons-per-capita-per-day came in at 219 for March, reflecting the 2 ¾” of rainfall we experienced in March.

A look back at water rates in 1995:

In cleaning out some office files, I ran across a cancelled check to the SFID for $85.24, dated May 1, 1995. I cross-checked my records to determine that my property used 47 units of water that billing cycle (lots of rainfall that period). Today’s rates for a 1” meter using 47 units would set me back $291.26, which amounts to a 5.5% yearly rate increase, compounded 23 years in a row.

Public Portal for customers with the new AMI meters:

District staff expects in June 2018 to roll out the public portal which will allow customers with the new AMI meters to read their hourly usage from the convenience of their computers, obviating the necessity of physically opening the meter box lids. No more flinching in expectation of encountering spiders or snakes or other creepy crawly thingies that enjoy the confines of the water meter box! More information to follow…

Finally, as always, I welcome public feedback:

The SFID website, click Board Members, has a direct link to each Board member’s SFID email account. Please note: any correspondence through the SFID website is subject to the Freedom of Information Act public disclosure protocols. If you would like, you may also communicate via my personal contact information:; 1 (858) 759-1306. I look forward to hearing from you. I often share with the SFID Board concerns and comments you have brought to my attention during the monthly “Directors’ Comments” on each Board meeting agenda.