Well, as you may have seen in the previous post photograph the weed eater is down for a bit due to a cracked fuel primmer bulb. (I believe there is a way around this but don’t recall right now.) So where were we??
INCORRECT INFORMATION TO STATE?
“Currently, LDPCSD does not have an alternate source of water.”
The above sentence was contained in the California Environmental Protection Agency State Water Resources Control Board Division of Water Rights Order approving Temporary Urgency (in stream flow and the LDPCSD pumping below Minimum Pool requirements) and is obviously incorrect.
The Order was included in the December 11, 2014 Board Packet on Page 51. The ORDER is 11 pages long and on page 7 (under 6.1 Urgency of the Proposed Changes continued from page 6) the statement is made in the second sentence, second paragraph.
Because the District has been using an alternate source of water (the Ranchito Drive ground well) to serve outside MID POU [Merced Irrigation District Place of Use] properties for over 20 years.
MID, CSD and others knew, did the SWRCB?
Perhaps, but still surprising because precise language is usually extremely important when it comes to the law and ORDERS by State Regulating Departments and Agencies demanding parties to do one thing or another.
I read that paragraph several times thinking I missed a qualifying word to make that patently incorrect statement factual. You know, something like the LDPCSD does not have: “an adequate alternate source”, OR, “a sufficient alternate source”, OR, “a satisfactory alternate source”, etc. Nope, read it correctly.
KNEW RANCHITO WELL HAD BEEN INCLUDED
When still on the Board in late 2014 I recall specifically addressing this issue and arguing that the Ranchito Drive well issue should be mentioned in Resolution 2014-2, which it was, and can be found on Page 28 of the December 11, 2014 packet also.
SIDE NOTE: Have any of you noticed that the District often refers to those 36 properties as: “a small number of service connections”, “approximately 36 properties”, etc. ?
Why such an ambiguous description?
Surely the district knows exactly how many properties it has allowed to violate the water license restrictions in the past.
Has the number of properties increased since that routine monthly outside MID POU report was discontinued from the meeting packet?
Heck, that report was required by, and submitted to MID to demonstrate compliance with restrictions.
Does the LDPCSD still even report this outside use to the Merced Irrigation District as previously required?
Was the SWRCB aware of this special circumstance of the LDPCSD?
Were the grantors of emergency funds for the ground wells?
Exhibit C, Resolution 2015-15, Stage III on page 39, included the qualifying word “adequate” again, affirming that an alternate water supply did exist.
WHY ONLY ONE WELL TO BEGIN WITH?
The LDPCSD Ranchito Drive well was specifically developed to serve those receiving water OUTSIDE the legal Place of Use under water license 11395. It was the immediate alternate source remedy to keep the District out of “hot water” for wrongfully diverting Merced River water outside the legal use areas and violating License restrictions.
Actually MID, as the license holder, would have been the party to receive substantial daily fines for permitting violations to continue.
In fact, MID required the outside MID POU monthly report to protect itself from liability or SWRCB enforcement because of the LDPCSD’s reckless history of not following regulations.
SIDE NOTE: When on the board I was shocked to discover even our CSD attorney had been deliberately “left out of the loop” concerning some past very pertinent outside MID POU information.
SURFACE WATER TREATMENT PLANT
Our plant pumps from Lake McClure which is fed by the Merced River (incidentally, some of the purest quality water in the State!) but if a requesting property was outside the permitted Place of Use, [and previous boards did their job] the answer HAD TO BE NO, sorry. Merced River water could not be diverted for their use.
Ground well water, however, is not Merced River water and our treatment plant simply pumped it from the Ranchito Drive well, mixed it with our Merced River water from Lake McClure, treated, stored and ultimately delivered it to those properties outside the MID POU.
FOOT IN THE DOOR
Naturally, seeing this, other outside properties also demanded water service…..”The District did it for my neighbor…why not me?” And thus began decades of turmoil and accusations of “selective enforcement” and “injustice” to those refused service.
A SPECIAL BENEFIT PAID FOR BY ALL ENTITLED USERS
This was a special benefit to Outside MID POU properties and a great inconvenience to the District in respect to maintenance, accounting, and treatment and circumvented the process of how our surface water treatment plant was designed and intended to function. (Pump from lake, treat, store, and deliver to entitled properties.)
Q: When did this become an issue?
A: Twenty years ago when MID ran afoul of the SWRCB for incorrect environmental releases of water for wildlife.
THAT MISTAKE RESULTED IN AUDIT AND LDPCSD RESTRICTIONS
South Shore, I believe, is the only legitimate annexation to our district that that was approved by LAFCo, MID, and the State Water Resources Control Board. 772af of water set aside for this proposed development. That was a water diversion for 2,010 acres but the 20+ year old proposed subdivision and golf course never developed. However, it was during the South Shore annexation process where documents presented to the SWRCB by MID evidenced a mistake in the calculation of a non-related Environmental Water Release program by MID which resulted in an enforcement process with that water audit. Things were different after that.
ILLEGAL CONNECTIONS MUST BE ADDRESSED
Outside MID Place of Use properties became a hot topic for enforcement and a nightmare for both the district and water thirsty property owners not entitled to lake water like the subdivision was. Multiple CSD boards have addressed and attempted to change or modify this water restriction with negative results.
The only way to continue providing water to those not specifically entitled to Merced River water was to use an “alternate source of water” which meant drilling a ground well along side Ranchito Drive. That ground well “patched” existing violations of the water license.
EMERGENCY BACKUP NECESSITY
JUST SERVICE EXPANSION PREPARATION?
So here’s the problem: customers were told these wells were being constructed with grant funds (certainly won’t cover all costs) to ensure water service to the existing customers during this drought emergency, yet again the board appears ready to abolish Resolution 2013-4 which prohibits further expansion of Outside MID POU properties.
WHY DO I BELIEVE THE TRUE REASON WAS EXPANSION?
Check out the Minutes regarding BOD President Danny Johnson during the December 11, 2014 meeting:
President Johnson gave a verbal report. He thanked the public for taking the LDPCSD customer survey. The survey allowed customers that cannot attend our meeting to give their input. He commented that he felt one of the best things the board did was to drill the wells. From his perspective it was a good financial move in comparison to trucking water in for the community. He also wanted to commend staff and management for positioning this District to have the infrastructure in place to keep the community water running. He also thought the board should revisit the outside place of use restrictions resolution
“He also thought the board should revisit the outside place of use restrictions resolutions”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? AGAIN?
Even with the new ground wells, during peak demand times we are still short of water according to our engineers yet President Johnson wants to revisit the restriction? Why?
To expand service to other outside MID POU properties as you have advocated in the past? Come on Danny, seriously, who are you really representing here? Are there still third party construction projects that desperately need our water to start development?
Why revisit this issue now?
Same issue. Same drought. And the money?
What has changed since June when the vote was 2-2?
TWO IMPORTANT VARIABLES
1) Newly developed ground wells represent another “alternate source”, and
2) New Directors on the board willing to “go with the flow”
If this expansion and reconfiguration of CSD operations is good for existing customers, why weren’t these plans included in the recent survey?
BY the way, how many responded? How many were mailed? The promised “review of the survey results” was a bit sketchy. The survey could have simply asked customers:
Are you in favor of expanding service to properties outside the limits of our water license with ground water production recently developed?
LDPOA SUBDIVISION RESIDENTS
Many people purchased property in the Lake Don Pedro Owners Association (LDPOA) not because it was a CID (Community Interest Development), or was governed by a POA (Property Owners Association) with differing CCRs regulating how property is to be developed, but rather because there was available WATER, electricity and maintained roads. (Unfortunately, some areas of the subdivision in Tuolumne evidently have problems with roads.)
What about over half the subdivision absentee owners who pay availability fees?
Didn’t these DIRECTORS’ OATH OF OFFICE include these legitimate future users of District water?
Haven’t they been paying for that future water use benefit?
Why not protect the water service to existing customers, both consumers and availability properties?
Why furnish water to proposed projects which we will then have to serve during the next drought or other water related emergency?
SORRY. WATER WILL BE SHUT OFF
You can’t start providing water to someone then later say OOPS – SORRY, HAVE TO CUT IT OFF. (Actually some of the past service connection contracts outside the POU specifically stated if the owner did not subsequently annex their property to the District the water service would be discontinued. It was a condition of service. But the water was not shut off. Some property owners discovered they could not legally annex, so no water was delivered. Others did annex but the district was still prevented from serving water under the License and water agreement.)
Mariposa LAFCo advised they were initially never told about the License restrictions by District representatives seeking annexations, however, the county eventually found out and began putting a disclaimer in their mid-1980s annexation paperwork that the county could not be held liable if an annexed property did not receive water from the District.
What a frigg’n mess huh?
WHAT IS THE LDPOA’s POSITION ON THIS?
From what I read the Owner’s Association may not even continue it’s monthly meetings any longer due to lack of business. They are apparently flush with cash according to their financials. Here is a serious situation concerning the subdivisions future water service – why not help those owners who already pay good money for protection?
Since the LDPOA membership compromises the far majority of LDPCSD customers (3,128 last I saw versus the 36 outside MID POU customers) what is the Association’s position on this extension of water service to outside POU properties with our new and extremely expensive ground wells?
Will the Association step-up to help protect these innocent property owners from potentially losing their water service in the future?
Will the Association work with multiple property owners and assist them in joining properties together with only one assessment to help reduce future potential subdivision connections?
LDPCSD District engineers do not believe the new wells will even meet our peak demand times for existing customers so why even consider adding further service to properties outside the legal service area?
BETTER PROTECT YOURSELF – NO ONE ELSE WILL
You know, if the Resolution restriction preventing further service to outside MID POU properties is abolished and this District does indeed begin Empire Building with ground well water, subdivision owners might need need to protect themselves.
Absentee owners who pay availability fees to this Community Services District (and property assessments to the LDPOA), should organize and legally protect the interests for which they are paying.
Massive amounts of material, yet little time to digest and respond. Even as a former director we often received the packet on a Friday before the Monday meeting. This did not provide much time to read and study all the material and prepare meaningful questions for clarification much less adequately prepare for a board vote. (Cannot contact office for additional information on a weekend.)
I was astounded by how some directors obviously, and routinely, did not read the entire packet which was clearly evidenced by their questions and ridiculous comments on the particular subject. If directors are unprepared – how is a customer going to understand the issues?
ADMIT TO BEING SUSPICIOUS FROM THE START
Absolutely. When a sitting director, who happens to be THE ICON for outside MID POU water use (cattle ranching for over 20 years using chlorinated water clearly intended for domestic residential consumption) surreptitiously contacts a friend in the water industry and advises him our GM position will open (prior to that explicitly confidential information being made public) – and that individual subsequently shows up at the next Board meeting with a management contract ready for approval – and the board fails to adequately consider the entire situation and on the spot selects him as the new IGM – (who had a prior employment record at our CSD in the 1990s that clearly encouraged expansion outside license limits), yes, I am suspicious.
CAN YOU FEEL YOUR FEET GETTING WARMER?
Decades of turmoil over non-permitted water use, most notably, real estate and land development interests.
This is really a simple equation. Drought prone dry foothill property + water = $$$$.
Can you imagine the sums of money to be made by unscrupulous people if inside information that a particular project or area absent utilities will soon receive water?
CONNECT THE DOTS & FOLLOW THE MONEY
Someone burns down our nonprofit Administration Office (attempt to destroy regulatory history?)
A for-profit management company (Kampa Community Solutions) is ultimately hired under emergency drought conditions to keep the water flowing for existing customers.
This for-profit company president (our GM) immediately begins a process to secure an alternate source of water (ground wells) ostensibly for existing customers water sustainability, yet in actuality, to continue his plan to expand district service beyond License 11395 under which our CSD operates.
Sorry, but all I see is conspiracy and sophisticated camouflage concealing the hot plate CSD customers will be dancing on for perpetuity.
My best to you and yours, Lew
There is so much more – but it is another beautiful foothill day and the fast growing weeds are calling!
 Vote was 4-0 as I became sick to my stomach and walked out of that meeting in complete disgust. This was the only time in four years of service I missed ANY PORTION OF A BOARD MEETING.