Zone 7 Meeting - May 18, 2022
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ALAMEDA COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
May 18, 2022
The following were present:
DIRECTORS: SANDY FIGUERS
ANGELA RAMIREZ HOLMES
MICHELLE SMITH MCDONALD
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
ALEXANDRA BRADLEY, COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST
DONNA FABIAN, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
COUNSEL: REBECCA SMITH, DOWNEY BRAND
Item 1 - Closed Session
The Board went into Closed Session at 6:03 p.m. Directors Figuers arrived at 6:08 p.m. The Board came out of Closed Session at 7:06 p.m.
Item 2 -
President Ramirez Holmes called the meeting to order at 7:16 p.m.
Item 3 -
Item 4 -
4. Roll Call of Directors - all Directors were present.
Item 5 -
Zone 7 employees including Mike Miller, Maintenance and Construction Supervisor; Jeff Tang, Acting Principal Engineer; Jessica Traynor, Assistant Engineer; and Lillian Xie, Assistant Engineer spoke about the need for Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) that match the cost of living increases in the area. Each expressed their sentiments about the Consumer Price Index (CPI) outpacing the COLA and how Zone 7 wage increases have been falling behind inflation rates over the last several years. Staff even acknowledged years they allowed for small or even zero COLA in the past. They touched on Zone 7's revenues exceeding its expenses by $145 million within the last five years. They expressed the need to correct the current round of salary negotiations and to invest in the hardworking staff to retain the best employees.
Fred Sahakian, President of the Alameda County Management Employees Association (ACMEA), and Ariana Casanova, representing the workers from SEIU in the general chapter were also present and asked the Board to consider staff's concerns around the cost of living.
Item 6 -
Director Gambs asked to pull Items 6b and 6c.
Director Palmer moved to approve Items 6a, 6d, 6e, and 6f, 6g, and 6h, and Director Smith McDonald seconded. Items were approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Regarding 6b, Director Gambs asked how the bill relates to what the ACWA, CUMA, CalDesal & CWA expect to see incorporated in the bill or their objections. President Ramirez Holmes explained that the Legislative Committee met on this item. He also asked if the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) was specifically in favor of the proposed amendment. President Ramirez Holmes explained that the bill was amended, and they agreed upon the amendment sought. They then met with Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and then forwarded a letter of support to the Board. President Ramirez Holmes explained that ACWA supported it if amended. It was amended, so according to the Committee, it is supported by default. However, it has not been brought back to Committee because they had already passed to support it if amended.
Director Palmer asked if the highlighted language was also included in the bill.
Carol Mahoney, Government Relations Manager, explained that the highlighted language was a suggestion that could be added to the bill for clarification. Staff had already communicated with the legislator's office to ensure that they understood. Whether or not that language is specifically included in the bill would come out after the letter is sent. President Ramirez Holmes stated that the other agencies would not re-review the bill, because they have already agreed to it support it if amended.
Director Palmer moved to approve Item 6b, and Director Gambs seconded the motion. The Item was approved by a voice vote of 7-0.
Regarding Item 6c, Director Gambs said he would have liked to see a full copy of the policies. President Ramirez Holmes explained that the Ad Hoc Committee met and did the review. She asked the General Manager to make a binder available until the June Board Meeting, so everyone has an opportunity to review it. Item 6c was tabled until the next Board Meeting.
Item 7 -
Director Smith McDonald made a motion to approve the Regular Board Meeting minutes of April 20, 2022, and Director Green seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Item 8 -
Alexandra Bradley, Communications Specialist, explained that the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Science Odyssey is an annual science and engineering fair that encourages elementary and high school students to explore STEM related projects. Students develop these projects and then present them for judging. The One Water Awards are a joint venture between California Water Service, the City of Livermore, and Zone 7 Water Agency. These projects were chosen because they fit the partners' missions or services. There were first, second, and third place winners in the elementary, middle school, and high school categories. Some of the students were present to share their projects and received their awards.
John Freeman, Cal Water General Manager, and Anthony Smith, Acting Livermore Water Resources Division Manager, commended the students for their projects.
President Ramirez Holmes felt honored that the students decided to do their projects on water. She expressed appreciation for the opportunity to collaborate with the City of Livermore and Cal Water. She thanked each of the students for participating and the parents and teachers who were all part of it.
Item 9 -
Jessica Traynor, Assistant Engineer, stated that this was for an on-call as needed contract for construction work in the flood control channels. It allows Zone 7 to respond to emergencies and group small projects together for cost and time savings. The upcoming 2022 projects include two low-flow access road repairs and one bank slide repair. The contract is approximately split into $300,000 for emergencies and $600,000 for planned improvements and repairs. The current contract expires on June 30. The project went out for bid in April and two bids were received. Fanfa, Inc. was the lowest responsible and responsive bidder. Staff recommended approval and the award of the contract to Fanfa, Inc. for fiscal year 2022-2023 with a possible one-year extension for fiscal year 2023-2024.
Director Palmer made a motion to approve Item 9, and Director Sanwong seconded the motion. The Item was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Item 10 -
Amparo Flores, Ph.D., Integrated Planning Manager reviewed a table displaying some of the water transfer options that Agency was considering.
President Ramirez Holmes asked Dr. Flores to give the public a summary of why the Agency needs water transfers. Dr. Flores explained that it is the third consecutive year of drought. The Agency's allocation from the State Water Project (SWP) is the main source of water supply, currently at 5% of the contract amount at 4,000 acre feet, which is about 10% of the Agency's demands. Zone 7 is maximizing its banked reserves, but the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has asked the Agency to plan for another dry year next year and to preserve some of its storage. Staff has looked at various options, including Yuba Accord, the dry year transfer program, and working with another SWP contractor. They have also looked outside of the SWP contractor network, but the market is very tight, and they were unable to produce options with non-state water project contractors. Even with the list of options she provided, they were expecting potential adjustments. The much higher cost per acre foot this year is reflected in the scarcity of water supplies.
Director Smith McDonald asked about carriage loss. She pointed out that the Yuba carriage loss is significant. Dr. Flores explained that moving water in the Delta draws salinity into it, so extra water needs to be pushed through the Delta to maintain adequate water quality conditions and so some of that water is lost through that process. Especially in the dry year, they assume about 35%.
Director Palmer asked if this was also evapotranspiration. Dr. Flores said there may be some evapotranspiration involved, but thought it was largely to meet water quality requirements in the Delta.
Director Sanwong asked if untreated water mostly relies on surface water and if this was referring to agriculture and wineries. Dr. Flores confirmed and stated that ag is not able to access groundwater, so they can only take water off the South Bay Aqueduct through surface water off the aqueduct and from a bit of Lake Del Valle.
Director Sanwong asked if continuing to work with Mohave provides potential priority in working with them in the future. Valerie Pryor, General Manager, stated that having good working relationships with Mohave and other water agencies means the Agency is more likely to do business with them in the future.
Director Gambs asked for background on what programs would be available to Zone 7 next year. Dr. Flores explained that in normal and in above average conditions, in wetter years, Zone 7 puts away water for storage. This could be its local groundwater basin, and the remote groundwater banks at Kern County Storage and Recovery Program, Cawelo Water District, and Semitropic. Surface water is also stored in the San Luis Reservoir, which is part of the SWP system. They also try to save as much water at Lake Del Valle. One way to think about these transfers is that the Agency typically targets 10,000 acre feet of surface water sitting in the San Luis Reservoir because it never wants to start the next year with zero. These transfers are supporting that storage level to enter the following year with a healthy amount of carryover targeted at 10,000 acre feet. The agency will continue to draw upon the Kern County Storage programs, likely at the same level if conditions are similar. They will probably draw about 20,000 acre feet from those supplies again, which is a healthy amount relative to Zone 7's demands. That would be about half of the Agency's supply that will come from Kern County programs. Then there is the groundwater basin that could provide another 14,000 - 15,000 acre feet.
Director Gambs asked if the local groundwater basin lowering would decrease the Agency's production. Dr. Flores stated that she felt that the Agency could produce at the same level at this time. They would carefully monitor operations this year and test the basin by pumping at the highest levels ever pumped. They were certainly still looking to maintain the production capacity.
Director Gambs then asked about the impact of cost per acre foot. Ms. Pryor stated that she could provide mathematical calculations that were not rate calculations. The rate design would be done through a process with the Committee and the Board. In general, for treated water, every million spent is about 15 cents per centum cubic feet (CCF) and for untreated water every million is about $25 per acre foot.
Public comment was received by Kelly Abreu.
President Ramirez Holmes asked Osborn Solitei, Treasurer/Assistant General Manager, Finance, to clarify if this was for the next fiscal year, and although the Board has not seen the budget plan yet, they were making assumptions regarding this level of water transfer amount in the budget. Mr. Solitei confirmed. She also asked if the Agency had stayed within budget on water costs for the 2022 fiscal year. Mr. Solitei said the budget is $15 million, and staff are projecting that the Agency will be within the budget.
Director Green hoped people would take this opportunity to understand supply and demand information, to note that the Agency's supply possibilities are decreasing with time. The only way to match that and bring the demand down is through conservation. She stressed the importance of conservation because it was becoming more difficult to find water and it was also becoming more expensive.
Director Sanwong felt that everyone in the Tri-Valley needs to do their part to continue to conserve and find ways to save water. She stressed that every little bit helps. She advised the public to fix water leaks, to think about their irrigation and how they are watering their yards, and Zone 7's conservation program.
President Ramirez Holmes reviewed each resolution and filled in the blanks with the Board.
The first resolution was the 2022 Dry Year Transfer Program the blanks would be $900 an acre foot, water transfer amount up to 400 acre feet for a total purchase cost not exceeding $370,000 through the Dry Year Transfer Program. President Ramirez Holmes moved to approve the resolution for the 2022 Dry Year Transfer Program, and Director Palmer seconded the motion. Resolution 22-38 was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
The second resolution was the 2022 Water Transfer with Mohave Water Agency. And the blanks were as follows, "execute an agreement with Mohave Water Agency for a water transfer for a cost of $2,000 an acre foot, and water transfer amount of up to 1500 acre feet, for a total purchase cost not exceeding $3 million." President Ramirez Holmes moved to approve the resolution for the 2022 Water Transfer with Mohave Water Agency, and Director Green. Resolution 22-39 was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Item 11 -
Ms. Pryor gave an informational report on drought related activity for the last month. Conservation was still not met and demands are higher than in 2020. She reported Zone 7 staff conservation efforts including the lawn conversion webinar and rebate activity, which have increased significantly from last fiscal year. She also discussed communication and coordination with the retailers that took place in April.
Director Sanwong asked for an update on Governor Newsom's announcement of a sizeable amount to be dedicated towards communications about water conservation and the drought. Ms. Pryor stated they did not have the details yet, but staff would certainly seek any opportunity for Zone 7 to access those funds. President Ramirez Holmes added that to date it has been spent on the Save Our Water Program, which is the state-run conservation program.
Public comment was received by Kelly Abreu
Director Figuers shared his experience with reviewing his own water bill and that he realized it was paid in units and one unit is 100 cubic feet. A partial unit is transferred to the following month so people are not paying the full amount of water used. He felt there was a disconnect between units people use and units water districts use. Water districts use acre feet and hundreds of cubic feet, while the public uses gallons. Director Figuers stated that he would ask all the retailers in area to please convert the monthly bill into gallons per day and print it on their bills to give the public a better understanding of how much water they are using.
Director Sanwong stated that during the water rate review in the fall of 2018, she collected water bills from all the retailers to try to see their differences. She shared that the water bill she receives from the City of Pleasanton does have it broken down by gallons and in halves. She invited Director Figuers to collect water bills for the fall of 2022 Water Rate Workshop, as this is what households were using to understand their usage. There are also online tools to track daily usage. She also touched on many dealing with one crisis after another and stressed the challenges in communicating conservation to the public during this time.
Item 12 -
Director Palmer asked for a change on the Water Resources Committee Meeting Notes of March 30th, 2022, on the bottom of page three. She clarified that she did not ask a question regarding the vineyard, but that she asked a question regarding the Vineyard Avenue alignment. This change would be reflected in the notes.
Item 13 -
President Ramirez Holmes shared that some of the directors attended the ACWA Spring Conference. As president, she was called into quite a few meetings that were not on the conference agenda like meeting with the South Bay Contractors, State Water Contractors (SWC), and meetings with other agencies. She shared information and said topics would be discussed in future liaison committee meetings. Zone 7 staff attended as well. Many of the relationships fostered at these conferences are important in pursuing future water transfers and projects. She thanked the Directors who attended.
Director Palmer said she did not finish her written report on the conference; however, she emailed it to Donna Fabian, Executive Assistant. Director Palmer was a member of three different committees, which included the Local Government Committee, Water Quality Committee, and the Agriculture Committee. She gave an overview of each of these committees. The Region 5 Board Meeting dealt with the diversity equity and inclusion, which had initially been brought up by Region 5, and it looked at how its efforts fit with ACWA. They also discussed the upcoming Region 5 meeting. Director Palmer facilitated a round table on outreach and met with representatives from the South Bay Aqueduct. She gave a brief presentation to the SWC on the Delta Conveyance Authority (DCA) and the work she had done because had been presenting to various other groups.
Director Sanwong said the Go Green Hometown Water Screening at Firehouse Art Center that she attended with President Ramirez Holmes was a great event. She spoke to a gentleman who has archived documents and maps of Zone 7's region. Director Sanwong said she would attend the Asian American Elected Officials Networking Group doing a tour of the East Bay Municipal Utility District Water Treatment Plant. She asked to connect with staff for a map of the various Alameda County Water Districts, as she thought it would be helpful. President Ramirez Holmes added that the General Manager could follow up about the map. She also noted that the gentleman was recommended to give his materials to the Pleasanton Museum on Main, which has historical water documents.
Director Gambs shared details about one of the sessions he attended at the ACWA conference entitled "Focus on the Fix" where a wildlife biologist discussed the importance of fish and habitat. He attended interesting sessions on voluntary agreements and climate change. Director Gambs also attended the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for a portion of the Iron Horse Trail with some of the directors and staff.
President Ramirez Holmes added that she and Director Palmer were in the SWC discussions on the Voluntary Agreements. Thankfully as a smaller agency among the SWC, it will let some of the other folks weigh in as Zone 7 will not have much involvement.
Item 14 -
Item 15 -
Ms. Pryor highlighted Patterson Pass Water Treatment Plant (PPWTP) coming back online. As the Agency is near the end of its three-year program to add ozone, expand, and modernize the plant, it has been offline since January for construction work, but it would be brought back online to start testing ozone. She commended the Engineering, Operations, and Maintenance staff for their hard work.
Director Sanwong asked if Lake Del Valle's closure for recreational use due to algal blooms affects the water treatment process. Ms. Pryor stated that it should not affect the water treatment process because DWR will typically blend various sources. If the Agency does have more organic measure matter such as algae blooms, it has treatment processes to address it.
President Ramirez Holmes reminded the Board of upcoming committee meetings, the Budget Workshop on June 1st, the PPWTP Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on June 9th, the Regular Board Meeting on June 15th, and the Special Board Meeting on June 29th.
President Ramirez Holmes stated that they will acknowledge Director Smith McDonald's
service at the June Regular Board Meeting. A new director will be sworn in at the July Board Meeting, and reorganizations will also take place.
Item 16 -
President Ramirez Holmes adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m.