Zone 7 Meeting - February 21, 2024

3. Open Session and Report Out of Closed Session

4. Pledge of Allegiance

5. Roll Call of Directors

6. Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items

7. Minutes

8. Consent Calendar

9. Desktop Contaminant Mobilization Study

10. Preliminary Water Supply Operations Plan for 2024

11. Support for Employee-Led Events/Activities

13. Declaration of Fix a Leak Week

14. Committees

15. Reports - Directors

16. Items for Future Agenda - Directors

17. Staff Reports

18. Adjournment





February 21, 2024

Directors Present: Dawn Benson

Sandy Figuers

Dennis Gambs

Laurene Green

Kathy Narum

Sarah Palmer

Angela Ramirez Holmes

Staff Present: Valerie Pryor, General Manager

Chris Hentz, Assistant General Manager - Engineering

Osborn Solitei, Treasurer/Assistant General Manager - Finance

Ken Minn, Water Resources Manager

Sal Segura, Associate Engineer

Lillian Xie, Associate Engineer

Shelisa Jackson, Human Resources Manager

Donna Fabian, Executive Assistant

General Counsel: Rebecca Smith, Downey Brand

Item 1 - Call Zone 7 Water Agency Meeting to Order

President Figuers called the Regular Meeting of the Board of Directors to order at 7:16 p.m.

Item 2 - Closed Session

The Board entered Closed Session at 6:01 p.m. and concluded it at 7:05 p.m.

Item 3 -

3. Open Session and Report Out of Closed Session

President Figuers stated that there was nothing to report out of Closed Session.

Item 4 -

4. Pledge of Allegiance

President Figuers led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Item 5 -

5. Roll Call of Directors

All Directors were present.

Item 6 -

6. Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items

No public comments were received.

Item 7 -

7. Minutes

Director Palmer made a motion to approve the Regular Board Meeting minutes of January 17, 2024, and Director Benson seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.

Item 8 -

8. Consent Calendar

Director Palmer made a motion to approve Items 8a through 8c and Director Ramirez Holmes seconded the motion. The items on the Consent Calendar were approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.

Item 9 -

9. Desktop Contaminant Mobilization Study

Valerie Pryor, General Manager, provided insightful background information on the study, which originated from the Tri-Valley Water Liaison Committee Feasibility Study completed in 2018. The study identified five feasible options for potable reuse in the Tri-Valley area-four involving groundwater augmentation and one related to surface water or direct potable reuse. Ms. Pryor emphasized that the Desktop Contaminant Mobilization Study was a recommendation stemming from their collaborative efforts. She clarified that, at this stage, it remains a study with hypothetical wells, and no project is currently underway.

Lillian Xie, Associate Engineer, then delved into the study's details. She highlighted how the study aligns with the Agency's Strategic Plan and provided context on potable reuse as a potential new water supply. The Potable Reuse Study assessed both indirect and direct options, concluding that potable reuse is technically feasible with no identified fatal flaws. This led to the initiation of the Desktop Contaminant Mobilization Study. Ms. Xie outlined the study's objectives and approach, discussing four purified water recharge scenarios selected from the Potable Reuse Study's shortlisted options.

Walt McNab, Hydrogeologist with Kennedy Jenks, provided a succinct summary of the modeling results. He explained the four scenarios exhibiting changes in arsenic and hexavalent chromium, leading to MCL exceedance, and presented a summary of their findings.

Ms. Xie then moved on to potential future considerations.

Director Ramirez Holmes raised concerns about the use of "relatively small" or "relatively large" without clear quantification. Mr. McNab recommended utilizing the maximum contaminant level (MCL), providing measurements in parts per billion.

Inquiring about the impact of the drought on the study, Director Ramirez Holmes learned that the scenarios considered a 20-year span, averaging hydrological conditions without specifically factoring in the drought. The long-term effects of introducing water into the groundwater basin were evaluated.

Director Ramirez Holmes further questioned if there were alternative treatment methods to mitigate contaminants. Ms. Xie suggested chemical stabilizers affecting pH levels could be employed before injection or recharge. Ken Minn, Water Resources Manager, explained the necessity of adjusting pH concentrations for infrastructure maintenance, highlighting that adjustments were tested at 7+ and 8+ concentrations with no significant differences in results.

Concerning the eight-year-old groundwater model, Director Ramirez Holmes sought clarification on potential changes. Mr. Minn affirmed that a new model would enhance clarity on concentration levels.

Director Green proposed additional core testing for better understanding of contaminants. Mr. McNab clarified that the study didn't target the provenance of elements, but lab assessments could be helpful.

Director Narum questioned if purified water, like current groundwater pH, could pause contaminant mobilization. Mr. McNab explained a sensitivity analysis with a slight pH reduction, indicating a potential tradeoff between cost and effectiveness.

Considering the new model, Director Narum inquired about its necessity and workload. Ms. Xie emphasized improved spatial resolution and cost efficiency, with Mr. Minn adding that it builds upon established fundamentals.

Director Gambs suggested a future operational scenario analysis for Lake I. Mr. McNab explained the 20-year dilution scenarios and potential adjustments based on updated mudflow models.

President Figuers shared historical insights about the basin.

Director Ramirez Holmes proposed presenting the information to the Tri-Valley Water Liaison Committee for feedback on next steps.

Director Green asked if staff would return to the Board after incorporating recommendations. Ms. Pryor confirmed that feedback from the Committee would guide the next steps presented to the Board.

Director Narum, as a member of the Tri-Valley Water Liaison Committee, advocated sharing the item with the group. She also requested the most current cost estimate and its comparison to other options. Ms. Xie stated that costs were not evaluated since the scenarios were based on the Potable Reuse Study. Ms. Pryor clarified that costs were not evaluated in the study but could be extrapolated from the 2022 Water Supply Evaluation for presentation in 2024 dollars.

Item 10 -

10. Preliminary Water Supply Operations Plan for 2024

Sal Segura, Associate Civil Engineer, provided an update on the Preliminary Water Supply Operations Plan for 2024. Mr. Segura began by acknowledging the current rainfall but emphasized that despite appearances, the water year is not as favorable as it may seem. He informed the board about the positive news of a 50% increase in allocation, bringing it to 15% instead of the previously reported 10%.

Mr. Segura delved into the comparison of the 2023 actual water supply with three potential scenarios for 2024. He pointed out the differences, noting that 2024 is shaping up to be drier than the previous year. Despite this, he assured the Board that Zone 7's ability to meet customer demand will not be impacted. Mr. Segura then detailed the five components of the water supply, including State Water Project, local water from Lake Del Valle, local groundwater, Yuba and/or dry year program water, and water stored in Kern groundwater basin.

Regarding Kern groundwater, Mr. Segura explained its absence from the scenarios, attributing it to the abundant water supply in 2023, which allowed for substantial carryover from the state. He expressed confidence in the current robust position, which should sustain Zone 7 through the year. Sal referenced studies from the Department of Water Resources indicating a final allocation range of 10% to 50%, with no need to recover water from Kern in any scenario.

Moving on to projected water uses, Mr. Segura outlined the allocations for municipal deliveries, untreated agricultural and irrigation deliveries, groundwater recharge, Kern groundwater recharge, state water project carryover, Lake Del Valle carryover, and water loss. He highlighted the challenges faced in 2023, including water loss and transfers, but assured the Board that Zone 7 retained 25,000 acre-feet of carryover for the current year.

Mr. Segura concluded his presentation by discussing the projected uses for the available water supply in 2024, emphasizing the opportunities to store water as conditions improve. He acknowledged the preliminary perspective of a 15% allocation and emphasized Zone 7's readiness to adapt strategic moves based on future developments, aiming to make the most of available water resources for the current and future years.

Director Ramirez Holmes raised concerns about the storage situation in Cawelo. She questioned whether the reported lack of need for Cawelo this year was due to a lack of necessity or if there were issues preventing its use, posing a potential long-term problem. Mr. Segura explained that, if needed, water would likely be called from Semitropic first, as they could provide 10,000 acre-feet promptly. He mentioned the possibility of a delay until September to recall water from Cawelo.

Director Ramirez Holmes then sought clarification on untreated water usage, expressing confusion about the higher use despite a lower allocation. Mr. Segura explained that the increased usage was based on empirical data, indicating that dry hydrologies cause soils to dry earlier in the year, leading to an expectation of higher watering needs.

Director Gambs raised questions about the Northern Sierra and the conservative estimate of a 15% allocation from the state. He inquired whether this estimate indicated a long-term average and specifically asked if the Northern Sierra referred to the Feather River watershed feeding into Oroville. Ms. Pryor clarified that while the Department of Water Resources tends to be conservative, the allocation is influenced not only by hydrology and storage but also by environmental restrictions in the Delta. Mr. Segura added that the hydrology in the Northern Sierra is approaching the average, standing at around 90% of the average year-to-date as of the current week.

Item 11 -

11. Support for Employee-Led Events/Activities

Shelisa Jackson, Human Resources Manager, presented the next item, Support for Employee-Led Events/Activities. She expressed gratitude to Director Ramirez Holmes for initiating the discussion on this important topic and recognizing the Board's support for employees. Ms. Jackson provided background information, stating that on September 20, 2023, the Board acknowledged the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, prompting further discussion on how the Board could support employee-led initiatives.

Ms. Jackson outlined the proposed program, emphasizing its role in attracting and retaining employees amidst market competition. The program aims to foster inclusivity, strengthen a sense of belonging, encourage team building, and improve overall employee morale. Employee-led activities may include social events, educational workshops, networking activities, community service projects, charity drives, book clubs, and more. Human Resources will facilitate the design and implementation of the program, tailored based on employee feedback.

To move forward, Ms. Jackson proposed the formation of cross-sectional committees or workgroups, seeking representation from different sections across the agency. She assured that the program parameters would be clearly defined, with regular updates provided to the Board.

Director Sarah Palmer expressed her positive view of the program and inquired about the estimated funding, to which Ms. Jackson responded with a request for $20,000. Director Ramirez Holmes shared insights from discussions with other water agencies about similar initiatives, leading to the proposal for employee-led activities. She suggested starting with $10,000 for the first year to gauge its effectiveness and emphasized the need to minimize red tape to ensure the program remains employee led.

Director Gambs praised the idea of employees taking charge at the staff level, fostering valuable relationships between individuals from different departments. Director Green requested timely updates on the program's schedule.

A brief discussion ensued on the requested funding amount, leading Director Ramirez Holmes to propose amending the Resolution to $12,000. Director Palmer moved to approve the amended resolution, and Director Benson seconded it. The amended resolution was approved unanimously by a roll call vote of 7-0.

Item 12 - Outreach and Communications Program Update

This item was continued to a future Board meeting.

Item 13 -

13. Declaration of Fix a Leak Week

Ms. Pryor informed the Board that Zone 7, as a participant in the US EPA's WaterSense program, is dedicated to promoting the efficient use of water resources through collaboration with retailers in various conservation programs. She highlighted WaterSense's annual "Fix a Leak Week" in March to raise public awareness, noting that this year's event is scheduled for March 18th through March 24th. Ms. Pryor detailed plans for Zone 7's retailers to actively encourage customers to address common leaks during Fix a Leak Week. Additionally, she announced the first annual "Waterwise Wendy Fix a Leak Challenge" along with promotions on social media, extensive information on the website, and other related activities. Ms. Pryor concluded by recommending the Board's adoption of the resolution in support of Fix a Leak Week.

Director Palmer made a motion to approve the Resolution and Director Narum seconded it. The item was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.

Item 14 -

14. Committees

The Committee notes received no comments.

Item 15 -

15. Reports - Directors

Director Palmer submitted a written report and emphasized some key items within.

Director Ramirez Holmes reported that she will continue as Chair of the Los Vaqueros JPA until June 30. She also stated that she, Director Palmer and Director Green would be traveling to Washington DC next week for the ACWA DC Conference.

Director Narum stated that she handed out awards at the Livermore Science Odyssey fair two weeks ago.

Director Palmer added that the Alameda County Special Districts Associate is having its annual dinner on March 21st.

Item 16 -

16. Items for Future Agenda - Directors

No items were requested for consideration at an upcoming Board meeting.

Item 17 -

17. Staff Reports

The Staff Reports received no comments.

Valerie Pryor introduced Chris Hentz, the Agency's new Assistant General Manager of Engineering and Operations.

Item 18 -

18. Adjournment

President Figuers adjourned the meeting at 9:10.