Zone 7 Meeting - January 19, 2022
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ALAMEDA COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
January 19, 2022
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
JARNAIL CHAHAL, ENGINEERING MANAGER
CAROL MAHONEY, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS MANAGER
AMPARO FLORES, INTEGRATED PLANNING MANAGER
LILLIAN XIE, ASSISTANT ENGINEER
ALEXANDRA BRADLEY, COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST
DONNA FABIAN, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
COUNSEL: REBECCA SMITH, DOWNEY BRAND
Item 1 - Closed Session
Item 2 -
President Ramirez Holmes stated that the Board did not meet in Closed Session.
Item 3 -
President Ramirez Holmes called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Item 4 -
4. Public Comment - none
Item 5 -
Director Palmer pulled Item 5c. Director Palmer moved to approve Items 5a, 5b and 5d. Director Smith McDonald seconded the motion. Items 5a, 5b and 5d passed with a roll call vote of 7-0.
Director Palmer asked about the last paragraph of the resolution in Item 5c where it stated, "the Municipal Water Quality Investigations Agreement with the Department of Water Resources and the specific project agreement with State Water Contractors." She did not see where a specific project agreement with State Water Contractors was given in the staff report. Valerie Pryor, General Manager, stated that it was mentioned in bullet 5.
Director Palmer moved to approve Item 5c and Director Figuers seconded the motion. The motion passed with a roll call vote of 7-0.
Item 6 -
The minutes were revised to add a comment that was given by Director Green. Director Smith McDonald made a motion to accept the minutes as amended and Director Figuers seconded the motion. The minutes were approved as amended by a roll call vote of 6-0 with President Ramirez Holmes abstaining.
Item 7 -
Alexandra Bradley, Communications Specialist, presented the Outreach and Communications Program Update highlighting the past years' accomplishments. Highlights included Zone 7 branding for use by all staff, the redesigning of Zone 7's website, the schools' program, the growth of the agency's social media platforms, and various DotCOMM awards received.
Director Palmer asked if the webpage was ADA compliant and Ms. Bradley responded yes, and that it was above and beyond the minimum requirement.
Director Sanwong stated that she really liked Ziggy the Piggy, Flood Ready Freddy and Water Wise Wendy characters and said it was wonderful to see all the awards received. She also appreciated the annual report going digital. Director Sanwong also asked if the website was mobile-device friendly and Ms. Bradley responded that it was completely optimized for mobile devices.
Director Smith McDonald stated that the infographic work was a particular favorite of hers because she knows how well people engage with it. She asked how many people were taking advantage of the rebate programs now that more time was spent promoting them.
Ms. Bradley responded that for the lawn conversion rebate program, the agency had received around 24 applications and an additional 25 that were still in the process of being applied for. Last year, the total number of completed rebates was five. Ms. Bradley added that the numbers were slightly down on the high-efficiency washer program. Ms. Pryor added that the agency was about two-thirds the total for the entire previous year in its overall rebates during the first six months of the current fiscal year.
Director Gambs asked if there would be written reports or if they would all be digital. Ms. Bradley responded that all digital reports were downloadable as a PDF, so they are printable, and hardcopies would be available in the lobby.
Director Gambs asked what kind of feedback was received about the new website. Ms. Bradley responded that the feedback was good, particularly the FAQs and the search functionality.
Director Palmer stated that she was glad to see the rebate for lawn conversions.
Director Green congratulated Ms. Bradley on the awards and she liked that staff were looking at doing some combined marketing with retailers. She also mentioned the drought alert video and that it was short but striking and the visual was to the point.
President Ramirez Holmes asked if the awards were submitted by the agency's vendors and Ms. Bradley confirmed. She also asked if the annual report would be mailed out. Ms. Bradley responded that the plan was to distribute it digitally. President Ramirez Holmes asked Ms. Pryor if these were mailed in the past. Ms. Pryor responded that she was not aware but for the current annual report, staff were planning a press release, an eNewsletter blast, and posting on social media. A QR code was also available on handouts at various events. President Ramirez Holmes added that it would be great to see the water savings numbers on the lawn conversion rebate program in the report. She added that she would like to see hardcopies at libraries and senior centers.
Item 8 -
Lillian Xie, Assistant Engineer, gave a presentation on the Third Amendment to the 2019 Sites Reservoir Project Agreement. Ms. Xie stated that Sites Reservoir is a proposed off-stream reservoir with 1.5 million acre feet of storage. It is located 75 miles northwest of Sacramento, and it works by capturing excess flows from the Sacramento River after all other water rights and regulatory requirements have been met. This reservoir is expected to begin full operations in 2030. The reservoir is adaptive to climate change, provides a variety of environmental benefits, and works with some existing reservoirs within the state, such as Lake Shasta and Lake Orville, and therefore increases California's water system reliability. This project recently wrapped up its second amendment work period at the end of 2021. The Third Amendment is a three-year work period covering the time period of January 2022 through December 2024. The total project cost is $3.9 billion. Zone 7's estimated unit costs ranges from $1,100 to $1,300 per acre foot. The Third Amendment would commit the agency to an additional amount of up to $400 per acre foot. If the agency maintains its current level of participation of 10,000 acre feet per year, it would be contributing up to $4 million under the Third Amendment.
The 2019 water supply evaluation update confirmed the agency's need for new water supplies to maintain Zone 7's reliability. Sites Reservoir can bolster the agency's reliability because it is able to manage the water that is stored in the reservoir to make it available during dry years when shortage risk is greatest. Sites Reservoir provides both storage and new supply, which adds flexibility to Zone 7's water supply system.
Director Sanwong asked about the average amount of water purchased from other State Water Project contractors.
Amparo Flores, PhD, Integrated Planning Manager, responded that the agency is looking to purchase 5,000 to 10,000 acre feet of water transfers over the next 10 years. The latest study completed in 2019 indicated that the agency is looking for supplies in the range of 10,000 to 20,000 acre feet per year. Sites could provide 10,000 acre feet per year of that long term need. Dr. Flores added that the agency would own and control this water and could manage the storage to meet its needs in conjunction with other water supplies.
Director Sanwong stated that she supported Sites and thought that it was a really good project for Zone 7 to continue to be a part of. Ms. Xie added that Sites is both a new storage and new supply and that will bolster Zone 7's reliability.
Director Green asked for detail about the geotechnical studies and how in depth they are during this phase. Ms. Xie responded that this was still in the planning phase. The final design phase would be the one after Amendment Three. Once at that phase, they would start conducting more detailed studies, engineering studies and design, including geotechnical studies. Director Green stated that she saw them listed with this particular phase and asked about the details. Ms. Xie replied that under Amendment Three, the engineering design, including the studies, would be reaching a 30% at design level. Those details will be more ironed out at the final design stage. Director Green asked where she could find the geotechnical studies. Dr. Flores stated that staff can provide the links and access to more information about geotechnical studies.
Director Gambs asked if the agency could utilize its investment in the South Bay Aqueduct with a project to make these deliveries. Ms. Xie replied yes, the water from Sites will be conveyed through South Bay Aqueduct. Director Gambs asked about the funding that has helped reduce the cost for Sites. Ms. Xie replied that the project has received a generous award from the state of about $800 million. The state has also received funding on the federal side through the Bureau of Reclamation. She added that there have been talks that the Bureau is willing to go up to 25% of the cost which will help keep the project more affordable. Director Gambs asked for a narrative of how the funding benefits Zone 7 customers and how it is allocated. Osborn Solitei, Treasurer/Assistant General Manager - Finance, stated that around $2.4 million of the current funding is coming from the water facilities fund. The fund ended a year with around $3.7 million, so the agency would be using old deposits and the remainder of the funding would come from Fund 130.
President Ramirez Holmes asked how much is currently in Fund 300. Mr. Solitei replied at the end of the year there was around $3.7 million. President Ramirez Holmes asked if there would be a breakout of what has been paid so far and from what funds, and how the agency plans to use the rest of the fund. She asked if it would all come from Fund 130, or current users as well. Mr. Solitei replied that staff would be coming to the Finance Committee to discuss funding of the Sites project.
Director Smith McDonald asked how the potential state and federal grants would work in terms of Zone 7's share of the funding. Ms. Pryor responded that costs are estimated to be about $1,000 to $1,100 per acre foot and the agency would buy down the cost of any additional funding for the water supply portion of it.
President Ramirez Holmes stated that she supported the project and while it was not cheap, given that this is the only identified new reservoir in the entire state, this was where Zone 7 must commit. It is a unique opportunity and will provide the agency with a new water supply.
Director Palmer added that it is the only source of new water, but it also provides the potential of cold pools for salmon and allows the agency to alleviate the strain on Shasta or Oroville, during the time periods when the salmon need the cold pools.
Director Gambs stated that water just never gets less expensive and the longer you wait, the more likely you are going to pay more and this opportunity comes with help from the State and Federal Government. He added that the agency has an underutilized investment at the South Bay Aqueduct that will be a waste of money if there is no water to use it on. Director Gambs added that there may not be another project on the horizon that would be as cost-effective as this one and with the drought and the climate change, new water is needed and this has the storage component for that purpose.
Director Gambs moved to approve the item and Director Green seconded the motion. The item passed by a roll call vote of 7-0
Item 9 -
President Ramirez Holmes stated that the Legislative Committee meeting notes were revised and sent out earlier this week correcting the attendees.
Item 10 -
President Ramirez Holmes explained why the decision was made to meet again virtually in January. She added that in December since staff were planning on returning to the office, so she felt the Board should meet in person as well. And since Omicron came through it also brought a new perspective of uncertainty and directors may wish to double mask, but it would only limit the public's ability to hear them. For the entire month of January, all meetings would be held virtually, and it would be addressed again in February.
Director Ramirez Holmes also stated that she appointed Director Palmer and herself to an Ad Hoc Committee for policy review which is something that has been important to her for a long time and she hoped this is the year that it gets done. She added that the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) has made committee assignments for 2022. The terms began on January 1st, but the board ratified the appointments on January 5th. A waitlist was created, so if any directors did not get their first choice, the list will be used to fill vacancies, should they occur. She stated that Alexandra Bradley, Communications Specialist, will continue sit on the Communications Committee, Director Ramirez Holmes will be on the Energy Committee. Carol Mahoney, Government Relations Manager; Director Gambs; and Director Green will be on the Groundwater Committee. Shelisa Jackson, Human Resources Manager, will be on the Membership Committee. Jarnail Chahal, Engineering Manager; and Directors Palmer and Green will be on the Water Quality Committee. President Ramirez Holmes was appointed to the State Legislative Committee.
President Ramirez Holmes added that the Los Vaqueros Reservoir JPA is meeting monthly and she will make sure the Board is receiving the agendas and minutes.
Director Sanwong asked if anyone had any information on the latest Omicron surge and how it relates to monitoring and analyzing wastewater to reach out to her as she was very curious.
Director Palmer gave a verbal report on the various meetings she attended including ACWA's Agriculture Committee, the ACWA Multi-benefit Land Repurposing Workgroup, which came out of the Agriculture Committee, the ACWA Region 5 orientation meeting where she is the Chair, and other committees that she sits on. Director Palmer added that ACWA is proposing a new Diversity Committee looking at diversity, inclusion, and equity. This Committee would need to be a result of a bylaw change for ACWA.
Director Palmer also said that she read that the City of Livermore has plans for synthetic lawns for some playing fields and they were debating the underlayment material and how it might be bad for soils and groundwater where the runoff would go into the streams.
President Ramirez Holmes stated that it should go under future agenda items for information because the Board could not discuss it.
Item 11 -
President Ramirez Holmes asked for clarification from Ms. Bradley on why the agency does not have a rebate program for artificial turf.
Item 12 -
Ms. Pryor went over some highlights from the General Manager's Report including the current drought emergency even after some good rains in December. She added that there may be an increase in the allocation from the State Water Project but if it is less than 20% it would likely require continued conservation.
Item 13 -
President Ramirez Holmes adjourned the meeting at 8:39 p.m.