ZONE 7 Meeting
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ALAMEDA COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
October 21, 2020
The following were present:
DIRECTORS: SANDY FIGUERS
ANGELA RAMIREZ HOLMES
MICHELLE SMITH MCDONALD
DIRECTORS ABSENT: NONE
ZONE 7 STAFF: VALERIE PRYOR, GENERAL MANAGER
OSBORN SOLITEI, TREASURER/ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER, FINANCE
COLTER ANDERSEN, PRODUCTION MANAGER
JARNAIL CHAHAL, ENGINEERING MANAGER
CAROL MAHONEY, INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES MANAGER
RHETT ALZONA, PRINCIPAL ENGINEER
SAL SEGURA, ASSOCIATE ENGINEER
JAVIA GREEN, FINANCIAL ANALYST
ALEXANDRA BRADLEY, COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST
DONNA FABIAN, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
COUNSEL: REBECCA SMITH, DOWNEY BRAND
Item 1 - Call Meeting to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.
Item 2 - Closed Session
Item 3 -
Roll Call and Report Out of Closed Session
Roll call was taken and all Board members were present. President Sanwong reported that the Board discussed a signed letter of agreement between Zone 7 and Local 1021 of the Service Employees International Union, CTW. The parties agreed to amend Section 2.1 short notice coverage of a shift, to allow eligible hours worked during short notice coverage of a shift to count as pensionable hours. This agreement is an integral part of the Zone 7 salary schedule and shall be effective December 27, 2020. Director Palmer made a motion to approve the signed letter of agreement and Director Ramirez Holmes seconded the motion. The agreement was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Resolution No. 20-59 Personnel Action: Amendment to Appendix A, Footnotes to Salary Schedule Section 2.1
President Sanwong then introduced Rebecca Smith of Downey Brand, who was sitting in as General Counsel for David Aladjem.
Item 4 -
Citizens Forum - none
Item 5 -
Director Palmer moved to approve the minutes of September 16, 2020, and Director Ramirez Holmes seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by a voice vote of 7-0.
Item 6 -
Director Figuers requested to pull Item 6b. Director Ramirez Holmes moved to approve Item 6a and Director Smith McDonald seconded the motion. The motion was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Director Figuers asked what triggered the flood preparedness campaign. Valerie Pryor, General Manager, replied that October is flood awareness month and Zone 7 normally holds a flood open house event or sandbagging clinics. Due to COVID-19, staff could not hold any in-person events, which is why a video event was chosen.
Director Figuers moved to approve Item 6b and Director Palmer seconded the motion. The motion was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Resolution No. 20-60 Design Services Contract with Carollo Engineers for MGDP Concentrate Conditioning Facility (Item 6a)
Resolution No. 20-61 Contract Amendment for Strategic Communications and Outreach Support Services (Item 6b)
Item 7 -
Proposed Calendar Year 2021 Municipal & Industrial Water Connection Fees
JaVia Green, Financial Analyst, presented the proposed 2021 Municipal & Industrial Water Connection Fees staff report. Ms. Green stated that staff met with the Finance Committee and recommended a 1.7% increase to the current water connection fees for calendar year 2021. Ms. Green noted that after discussion, the committee made a recommendation not to increase the fees for 2021 and to keep them at the 2020 rate.
Director Palmer asked what kind of an impact this would have in 2020 when we go to raise these fees again. Ms. Pryor responded that a 1.7% increase is insignificant, so it will not impact Zone 7's ability to make the various payments. She further stated that demand studies will be updated over the next few years and new information will be available to prepare for 2022 fees.
Director Gambs asked if anyone on the committee had an explanation for the recommendation. Director Ramirez Holmes replied that she sees our economy struggling in terms of restaurants, development and housing, but Zone 7's projects have also slowed down, and the fees are based on planned projects that would have been completed. She added that given that the engineering construction index was only 1.7%, and in the past it has been much higher, she thought it was a good time for Zone 7 to be able to proactively show support to our economy.
Director Palmer moved to approve Item No. 7 and Director Gambs seconded the motion. The Proposed Calendar Year 2021 Municipal & Industrial Water Connection Fees were approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Resolution No. 20-62 Proposed Calendar Year 2021 Municipal & Industrial Water Connection Fees (Item 7)
Item 8 -
Water Supply Operations Plan Update
Sal Segura, Associate Engineer, stated that staff presented a plan to the Board in June once information became available about the Agency's 20% State Water Project allocation. Mr. Segura said that at that time we envisioned delivering a certain amount of water throughout the year. Staff now recognizes demands are higher and are eating away at the carryover. The recommendation at this time is to recover 1,000 acre feet from Semitropic at a marginal cost and boost the carryover to about 9,000 acre feet going into 2021
Mr. Segura added that staff recommends pulling back a 1,000 acre feet from Semitropic, assuming there could be dry fall and winter seasons ahead.
Director Ramirez Holmes asked why we are choosing a transfer versus utilizing groundwater. Mr. Segura responded that regarding the status of the groundwater basin, the inventory has it relatively full at about 97% capacity, and we have taken advantage of that as much as possible. Mr. Segura added that one of the adjustments made before considering calling water back from Semitropic was to boost groundwater production. In the original plan, there was an expectation of 10,000 acre feet of groundwater production, which was increased to 12,000 just six or seven weeks ago. The Agency is fairly pegged out on ground water production, but continues to do as much as it can. Director Ramirez Holmes then asked if there is a cost difference by volume or whether it is just strictly per acre feet and how the cost is allocated. Mr. Segura replied that the cost is allocated on a per acre foot basis. He added that our cost to retrieve water back from Semitropic is about $160 per acre foot and then bringing the water into the Valley is approximately another $35 per acre foot from the Delta.
Director Gambs asked about the implications on cost. He said if we are selling more water, we are buying more water and if we are selling more water, our revenues are increasing. How would staff describe how the revenues are covering these extra costs since we have some fixed and some variable costs. Mr. Segura replied that the revenue from water sales will more than cover the increased cost to obtain this water at this time. Ms. Pryor concurred
Director Green asked if Mr. Segura could speak a little bit about the carriage water loss in from the Yuba accord. Mr. Segura stated that that water is considered non-State Water Project water, and per Department of Water Resources (DWR) rules, anytime you move or convey non-State Water Project water through the system, there is a water tax, in the form of actual water lost. They put this carriage loss on any water brought in that falls under that category. He added that in this case, the 3,000 acre feet that is being purchased from Yuba will pay for the full amount, but our delivery will be minus 900 acre feet because of this carriage loss, however, we will not know the exact amount until all the accounting has been done. It is put in there to make sure we do not over account for our supply. Then the Napa transfer that we acquired in September, that is 5,000 acre feet, that is considered State Water Project water, and that will not incur this so-called water tax. Director Figuers asked what happens to that 900 acre feet. Mr. Segura replied that it just vanishes, we pay for it but it is never delivered. He added that it starts to infiltrate into the ground and evaporate into the atmosphere, is the best way he could explain it
Director Ramirez Holmes asked how this impacts our other goals in working towards water conservation. Ms. Pryor replied that at this time, that is very much unknown.
President Sanwong asked if any nearby water agencies are experiencing something similar. Ms. Pryor responded that every agency is different and there is no one pattern. Ms. Pryor added that staff has started doing some light conservation messaging and we have really tried to focus on outdoor water use, irrigation, better irrigation techniques, better lawn techniques, etc., which will probably be the focus for the next year of any conservation messaging we do.
President Sanwong stated that following the end of our live broadcast this evening, Tri-Valley TV will be airing the hometown water documentary she mentioned previously, so she asked the public to stay tuned as it would be broadcasted live.
Item 9 -
Director Gambs asked if the Committee notes could, going forward, be more like minutes where all of the Directors' comments could be mentioned. President Sanwong mentioned that the good thing is that all of the meetings are recorded and can be watched at a later time. Director Ramirez Holmes stated that she would also like to see Director comments reflected in the Committee minutes, if possible. Director Palmer added that maybe for the future we could have that in there, but she doesn't think we need to go back and revise the minutes at this point. Director Figuers agreed.
Director Ramirez Holmes stated that she was very excited to discuss our Pension Trust Fund at the Finance Committee Meeting. Director Gambs asked if it was related to Zone 7 separating from the County. Director Ramirez Holmes stated that we are pursuing a policy that would allow us to set up a trust fund that belongs to Zone 7 allowing us to control that money invested until it was needed She confirmed that it is a separate issue from having to separate from the County. She mentioned that there are a couple of departments within the County, that get a separate actuarial report, and we have requested that, but have not been able to make any progress on that at this point, but we are still pursuing and have registered interest in doing that.
Item 10 -
Director Palmer reported that she attended the DCA Board meeting on September 17, the SEC Chairs briefing on September 18, the ACWA Agriculture Committee Workgroup on SB 200 program implementation on September 21 stating that all domestic wells (i.e., private wells) along a physical consolidation route (i.e., within 3 miles of a public water system) could be connected to a public water system (p. 18); wells constructed prior to 1980 are assumed to require replacement because of age (p. 21); where there is only one source of water, they are assuming the cost of an additional well to have reliable water supply (p. 21); costs for a range of new well sizes and flow rates will be developed by QK, Incorporated - a design-engineering firm in the Central Valley (p. 21); (For replacement and additional wells, I think) - Cost for land purchase of a 100-foot-by-100-foot lot will be included (p. 21). For further background, the white paper containing the assumptions is here: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/safer/docs/draft_whitepaper_lt_solutions_....
On October 23, she attended a DCA Stakeholders' Engagement Committee meeting discussing DWR Updates & Environmental Justice Survey Overview, Bethany Alternative Siting, RTM Management Plan Updates, and SEC Questions or Comments on August 26th Meeting Presentation.
On October 7, a visit to future Sites Reservoir location meeting with Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis. On October 8, ACWA Water Quality Committee PFAS Workgroup discussing AB 2560 and SB 1044; consumer products are the main source of our exposure to PFAS with development of MCLs do we look at individual PFAS or grouping
On October 8, DCA Director review with Executive Director Kathryn Mallon.
On October 15, DCA Board Meeting. Complete Board Packet: https://dcdca.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2020-10-15-DCA-Board-Pkg-V..... A key point was the reduction of Expected Expenditures from $34 million to $27 million. This reflects the slow-down of the engineering process as we wait for the CEQA from DWR, directions for the preferred alternative, and the inclusion of federal engagement. The team continues to explore the Bethany Alternative which would use the Eastern Corridor but then go directly to Bethany, deleting the need for building an additional receiving reservoir. The Stakeholders Engagement Committee continues its work.
On October 20, ACWA Region 3 presentation exploring biomass project development in Region 3. Biomass projects can improve water quality and yield, reduce severe wildfire risk, provide reliable electricity generation, decrease GHG emissions, and increase economic opportunities in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), yet the projects remain exceedingly difficult to develop. This program will feature discussions on the link between forest health and water supply, the potential benefits of emergent biomass technologies fueled by sustainable forest management practices, as well as the obstacles that stand in the way.
Director Ramirez Holmes reported that as chair of the Finance Committee, she met with our new audit team for a discussion about fraud and processes and that it was very interesting. She said it was good to get to know our new team a little bit and also talk about policies and other agencies. It was a reflective conversation and very interesting in terms of the comments that were provided. She said she is looking forward to the continuation of the process with the Finance Committee, and then ultimately, the Board regarding our audit this year. She added she was really pleased for the engagement and the ability to discuss random issues, about policies and other factors about board responsibilities. There are couple of ideas that have come out of that, and she will be discussing with Valerie and then potentially the Finance Committee.
Item 11 -
Items for Future Agenda-Directors - none
Item 12 -
Ms. Pryor asked Ms. Smith to give the Board an update on a new law, AB 992, which impacts the Brown Act. The new law specifically pertains to the participation of local elected officials on social media. This was covered during the Directors' ethics training and warned them about serial meetings and avoiding the development of a consensus through email. The law prevents board members from engaging or discussing topics within the jurisdiction of the agency on public forum websites like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, etc. This also includes reactions and emoticons. Directors also cannot ask other board members to engage with them on agency topics.
A discussion took place about how the law would affect the board members' social media posts. Ms. Smith further explained that the law strictly prohibits engagement on social media platforms where the public can participate in a free unpaid way. Interactions such as commenting on another board member's social media post are strictly forbidden by the amendment. Only comments and questions from members of the public on social media are permitted. It was asked whether blogs were acceptable. Ms. Smith confirmed, but that it was still best practice for board members not to engage on them either.
Director Ramirez Holmes asked if Ms. Smith would send the board members a copy of the full amendment text. Ms. Smith stated that she would be happy to provide it.
Ms. Pryor highlighted items from the written reports. Item 12a included information about the Mocho Groundwater Demineralization Plant (MGDP) operations. In the past, there were times when Zone 7 chose not to use MGDP, but she assured the Board that it was now always in operation when the wells were in use. It was not in operation for two years due to severe drought conditions and budgetary reasons. Drought - 20% of the water supply was lost to the brine which led to the Agency to turning the MGDP off to maximize water supply. Budgetary - the use of the plant was suspended during the 2010 economic slowdown. The MGDP must now be operated anytime the Mocho Groundwater Wells are used especially due to PFAS.
Zone 7 will consider participation in the planning and design phase of the Delta Conveyance Project. This will involve funding of approximately $7.5 million over four years. The Agency considered participation in the California WaterFix when it initially began as a defined project. At this time, the project is not well defined, there is no permitting, limited information is available on costs and water supply benefits are unclear. The next four years will be dedicated to the planning and permitting which would give Zone 7 the opportunity to participate for the first two years. The Agency could then reconsider its involvement when the project is ready to be funded. Ms. Pryor reminded the Board that the Zone 7 receives 70% of its water through the Delta. The information had just been developed over the past few months and a presentation was given on the Delta Conveyance Project global process at the Water Resources Committee earlier this month. The Committee would meet on November 2 with more information specific to Zone 7 and it would likely go to the Board for action at the November Board meeting.
Ms. Pryor said that wildfire potential impacts on water quality and operations were also discussed at the Water Resources Committee meeting. The 2020 Lake Oroville and SCU Complex fires were of most concern to Zone 7. The presentation concentrated on how the Agency is monitoring possible impacts to the treatment processes and how to handle them. The main concern at Lake Del Valle would be mostly turbidity, in addition to sediment and debris found in the source water. Zone 7 and DWR had closely monitored the 2018 Campfire watershed impacts coming down into the source water. The Agency also monitored the Patterson Pass inlet and there were no significant changes to water quality. Sediment is expected to get into the State Water Project; however, significant dilution is highly likely by the time water reaches the treatment plants. The SCU Complex Fire near Lake Del Valle was studied, and Cal Fire has confirmed that PFAS was not present in the fire retardant used. Samples would be taken of the lake to assess short-term fire impacts, as well as monthly monitoring throughout the year before the rains to establish a baseline. Normal monitoring programs which include weekly, monthly, and quarterly online monitoring will continue to test for any potential water quality impacts. Treatment processes at the plants are robust enough to handle the increased solids loading and turbidity. There is a sedimentation and filtration process, as well as the possibility of increasing coagulants and other chemical doses. However, the disinfection and filtration could treat any potential impacts and the plants are equipped to handle them. Ms. Pryor did not expect customers to see any changes in their tap water quality.
Item 13 -
The meeting was adjourned at 8:06 p.m.