Redway Water and Sewer News: Bills Rise Slightly, Some Expenses Lowered, and More
Base Rates Rising
Customers of Redway Community Services District (RCSD) will see their bills rise by $4.00 a month in 2018. The increase should generate about $36,000.00 a year of additional revenue for the district. The Board of Directors had the first reading of the ordinance and very quickly voted in favor the increase that had been pre-approved in 2013 through the Proposition 218 process for increasing taxes. Water and sewer services will now have a base rate of $96.50 for residential customers.
The District has lowered some of its monthly expenses and is working to cut them further. The District has identified and repaired big leaks in its system, saving money as well as water. In July of 2015, nearly 2 million gallons of treated water was lost to leaks and other unknown causes. This represents 27% of the water the District had paid to treat and pump to its tanks that month. By contrast in October of this year, the unmetered or ”lost” water is down by 87% to just under 300K gallons.
Cody Cox, the District’s Operator, has implemented improvements at the waste-water treatment facility that save money as well as improve operations moving the facility into easy compliance with new State standards for nitrate levels. Previously, the nitrate level of effluent often hit 11 or 12 ppm exceeding the State standard of 10 ppm. Cody reports a combination of improvements have improved tested nitrate levels and test results now are less than one ppm of nitrate.
The Aero-mod sludge thickener has been installed. Shelter Cove’s RID uses a similar system. The Aero-mod keeps sludge oxygenated in such a way that the solids are consumed by naturally occurring bacteria. Operations Manager, Cody Cox said in addition to eliminating the need for up to $14,000 a year in coagulants, the Aero-mod will also reduce or eliminate the need for landfill expenses for undigested sludge solids.
And the reduction in the nitrate levels also comes from the grease traps installed at all the restaurants in the RCSD. One restaurant owner didn’t think there was much point to it as their menu is so basic, but when their line was cut to install the grease trap, it was nearly clogged with grease. Cox says this illustrates how the wastewater system had been handling a lot of unnecessary material which was driving their nitrate levels higher than necessary as well slowing down the treatment process reducing the system’s capacity.
Solar Power Seems Likely
The District’s also making plans to install solar arrays to slash costs for commercially produced electricity in the future. The District is working with Redwood Energy Authority to install solar arrays at both the water treatment and wastewater treatment sites. Board-member Art McClure recommended against using open ground at the water treatment site because the District may need to expand the water treatment facility given its shortcomings noted in the District’s capacity analysis. McClure wants to keep the array on the roof.
The cost of the loan for the solar arrays will be about the same as the cost of the District’s current power bill and should be paid off within ten years. After the loan is paid, the district should expect another ten years of very low-cost power to be produced by the panels. The current power bill costs an average of $7,000 a month. A question clarifying that the array will produce enough power to fully cover the District’s needs hasn’t been answered yet.
Scope of Project Document
Redway CSD has identified where it needs to invest in its water production system to improve its capacity limitations. General Manager John Rogers presented a finalized Scope of Project document for the Water System Infrastructure Improvement Project. The Scope of Project document has a list of improvements to be addressed by the planning project. The document is designed for use in applying for funds to proceed with the engineering studies needed to begin increasing the District’s capacity to provided treated water to new customers. The tasks include looking for a well site with sufficient capacity to increase RCSD’s fresh water supply, preparing an engineering report, completing a topographic survey, writing final plans with specifications and estimates, beginning the CEQA review for proposed construction alternatives, and obtaining Humboldt County permits for Grading, Encroachment, and Drilling.
The estimate for this work which involves no construction or physical improvements is nearly $400,000.
A similar document for the wastewater treatment capacity improvements is still under development. And this planning does not involve any fire flow or storage needs. The Board states the District puts a priority on its fire flow issues, but the consultant did not think that need would be as likely to secure funding in this project proposal.
Redwood Region Economic Commission Report
And Board member Michael McKaskle’s report from the Redwood Region Economic Commission is here. District funds pay him a stipend and mileage, totalling about $1,400.00 a year, to attend twice a month, serve on the RREDC Executive Committee and submit this report to the Redway CSD Board. Highlights in this report include Arcata and Eureka planning for sea level rise. Hundreds of millions of dollars of infrastructure are in the zones very likely to be inundated within the century. For example, the wastewater treatment facilities of both cities lie in the inundation zone. Snippets of information on a host of other issues are included.
The next regular Board Meeting is scheduled for the 20th of December at 6:30 p.m.