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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Decision 1610 - Change to Water Rights

Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) Petition to Change Water Rights Decision 1610.

The Sweetwater Springs Distirict Board heard a presentation from Brenda Adelman, Russian River Watershed Protection Committee, on SCWA’s Petition to Change Water Rights Decision 1610 which governs minimum flows in the Russian River. Ms. Adelman encouraged the Board to protest the Petition and discussed her reasons for doing so. SCWA is petitioning the State Water Resources Control Board to reduce minimum flows in the River as one of the conditions of the Biological Opinion (BO) for endangered and threatened fish species in the Russian River. The BO states that the lower summer flows are needed to improve fish habitat in the lower River, specifically to keep the sand barrier at the mouth of the Russian River so that the estuary behind can have fresher water for the salmonid fish that spend the summer there.

District staff believe Decision 1610 needs a comprehensive review because so much on the River has changed, in particular, substantially reduced diversions from the Eel River, and recommended to the Board that a protest be filed to retain standing in the ongoing protest process. It is staff’s hope that the process will broaden the analysis to evaluate the changed conditions in the Russian River and how flows need to be revised to accommodate those changes.

The Board directed staff to file a protest working with the District’s water rights attorney to include the appropriate language in the protest form.

Approval of the FY 2010-11 Operating And Capital Budget/No Rate Increases. The Board approved the FY 2010-11 Operating and Capital Budget. The District’s budget includes revenues of $4.46 million and expenses of $4.28 million which includes the $1.5 million CIP IV-B capital improvement project supported by a Sonoma County Redevelopment Agency (RDA)/Russian River Redevelopment Oversight Committee (RRROC) grant of $1.1 million. The budget includes no rate increases for FY 2011 because of the RDA/RRROC grant and the poor local economic situation. Analysis of the long-term effect on capital improvement program (CIP) funding without a rate increase this year showed that the District can forego a rate increase in FY11 and still maintain progress toward sustainable CIP funding even though there will be a dip in funding available for the CIP in FY11.

Award of Contract for CIP IV-B, Project 2. The Board awarded the contract for CIP IV-B, Project 2, replacement of existing mains and appurtenances with approximately 6,000 lf of 6-inch water main on River Boulevard, Alder and Willow Roads, Pebble Way, and Heller Streets in Monte Rio. The successful low bidder is KAT Construction with a bid of $938,640 which is $425,305 under the engineer’s estimate of probable cost of $1,363,945. KAT Construction previously constructed the District’s CIP IV-A Project 2, water line replacement in the Monte Rio Terraces, in 2009. CIP IV-B, Project 2 is expected to start in July 2010.

Surplus District Lands Strategy. Staff presented the progress on the District’s Surplus Lands Strategy, which included sending notice of the surplus District lands to the appropriate public agencies in accordance with the State Surplus Lands Act. The strategy presented to the Board includes a public workshop in July to present the District strategy for the larger parcels in a workshop setting and to receive ideas about how those lands can be used.

Other items discussed and acted upon at the May meeting included adoption of an ordinance to address owner account nonpayment and meter tampering, and review of the District’s third quarter actual versus budgeted revenues and expenses.

Items for the next meeting on June 3, 2010, include a report on the protest regarding the Sonoma County Water Agency Petition to change Decision 1610 and summaries of other River-related meetings, and progress on the District’s Land Management Strategy. More information on District services and programs, including the District’s adopted FY 2011 Budget, are available on the District’s website at