Garberville Faces Possible Water Shortage, Wants to Develop a Connecting Water System With Redway, and Wrestles with Cannabis Policy


GSD Water Treatment Facility [Photo by Kelley Lincoln]

Garberville water users could face a water supply shortage this summer if the broken GSD water treatment contact chamber is not repaired. Meanwhile, that situation has highlighted the need for an intertie (a metered connection) between the water supply systems of the GSD and the Redway CSD for redundancy during emergencies, according to GSD General Manager Ralph Emerson and the GSD Board. And, with the possibility of a water supply shortage in the background, the GSD continues to develop its policy for agricultural water users using District services. All this while the Board has an empty Board of Directors seat to fill and no one applying for the vacancy.

The Contact Chamber
GSD water contact chamber

Standing water around the broken contact chamber last month. [Photo by Kelley Lincoln]

I’ve got to get something in place by summer,” General Manager Ralph Emerson explained. Without an operating contact chamber in place, during the peak of summer, the District could be significantly short of supply for its summertime demand. Emerson is working on having a plan in place by the February Board of Directors meeting.

However, if things remain as they are into summer, Operator Dan Arreguin said during the Board meeting, that without a contact chamber, he can safely produce a maximum of 187,000 gallons a day.  However, according to General Manager Ralph Emerson, Garberville uses 100,000 gallons more than that on the high daily average over the summer. Garberville has its auxiliary supply, but Tobyn Well’s production drops in the summer to about 20,000 gallons a day, so that leaves the town short by 80,000 gallons.  However, Barry Sutter of California’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) says the District to increase the amount of chlorine residuals it uses.

The day after Thanksgiving this past year, the contact chamber mysteriously failed. GSD is waiting on insurance for funding it’s repairs, but neither the engineers for the insurance company or for the GSD have finished their findings. The insurance company will not determine it’s coverage to repair or replace the failed equipment until after the engineering investigation is complete, according to Emerson.

In the meantime, the District is researching a preferred design for the contact chamber’s replacement. The General Manager and Operators at GSD do not like having the contact chamber underground because it adds costs and challenges to any needed repairs. However, the engineers have concerns about it being above ground for reasons of safety and stability. Emerson says he is inquiring around the region and has “a lot of people looking at it” to develop an affordable and functional design.

While the damaged contact chamber has not endangered the public in the winter because the demand for water is low and the rate of pumping to the holding tanks can be slowed down to provide necessary contact time, the lack of a contact chamber will present a significant challenge when the demand grows higher in the summertime. 

To understand the problem, one needs to know that when water is chlorinated, it is not instantly safe to drink. The chlorine needs time to act on the micro-life potentially present in the water. Water treatment operators spend a lot of time learning the calculations involved in safely chlorinating water. The factors they balance include the volume of water, the amount of chlorine, and the amount of time the chlorine has to act before the water is consumed. More contact time allows Operators to add less chlorine.

A contact chamber slows the water down on its way out of the treatment facility and up to the delivery tanks uphill from the customers. Thus a contact chamber allows a greater volume of water to be fully disinfected without raising the amount of chlorine needed.  Using less chlorine is cheaper and leads to fewer potential “disinfection byproducts.” 

Currently, GSD treatment operators are pumping the water more slowly up to the distribution tanks and adding a little more chlorine to make up for the still-shortened duration of exposure. As spring moves into summer in a few months, this will mean the plant is operating more hours per day to maintain the slower pumping rate per hour up to the tanks. But eventually, if the contact chamber cannot be repaired or replaced, the increased water demand of summertime might exceed the treatment facility’s ability to compensate according to Emerson.

 Barry Sutter of DDW said, “We are working very closely with GSD Operators. They may need to increase the chlorine residual levels to meet health and safety standards. We want what everyone wants, clean drinking water.”

Emerson says the current chlorine residual is at 1.2 ppm (parts per million.) Sutter says the maximum allowed by law is 4.0ppm. Increased chlorine levels will permit shorter contact time and allow the District to produce more potable water per hour. However, Sutter also said there might be customer complaints at that level. 4.0ppm is the legal chlorination rate for public pools according to Sutter.

This ongoing saga has highlighted to Emerson the need for an intertie between Garberville’s treated water system and that of the Redway’s Community Services District. Emerson said because the two districts are so isolated from everywhere else but so close to each other that “both districts would be irresponsible if there’s not an intertie developed.” Board Members agreed that for fire flow and other short-term high-demand uses, having a supply redundancy would benefit both communities.

When asked about the RCSD capacity analysis, and how RCSD might feel their District doesn’t have water supply to spare in the high demand months, Emerson said he has looked at the RCSD capacity analysis and doesn’t see a shortage in their water supply at this time.

Board Member and local firefighter, Doug Bryan, feels strongly the intertie should have already been done. He said,

… I think the reason Ralph has to sit here and say it’s irresponsible for us to not to plan it, is because it hasn’t already been done. Had some of our founding members of this community thought more in terms of working together instead of the Hatfield and the McCoys, which is commonly the case around here, then that pipe would have already been put into place and this relationship would already be established and we wouldn’t [be in] the corner that we’ve boxed ourselves into as a community.

When asked about the State’s opinion of an intertie, Barry Sutter of the DDW said, “We strongly encourage consolidation.” The DDW website addresses the topic and encourages districts to consolidate completely whenever possible. Sutter says DDW “doesn’t have legal authority to force consolidation except in very limited circumstances.”  The website describes the circumstances as

[t]he State Water Board strongly supports voluntary sharing of local resources, consolidation and regionalization…. However, when public water systems are failing to meet water quality standards and/or have inadequate water supply, the State Water Board may order mandatory consolidations in some circumstances, in accordance with Sections 116680-116686 of the California Health and Safety Code.

Commercial Cannabis Policy Development

The Board is developing policy for agricultural water users. Bryan says this is for all agricultural water users whether they grow tomatoes, grapes, cannabis, or anything else.

The current draft of the ordinance and notes from the last committee meeting are here. Highlights include an annual application with a $150 fee each time its filed, an inspection by GSD staff of the site and infrastructure, and the potential for up to six months of required forbearance. The annual application will ask for projections for the year’s water use, and the District is proposing an audit to compare actual use with those projections.

Board Member Bryan explained three things.  First, nothing is finalized about the forbearance period.  Second, the forbearance period protects the cultivator who must yield to residential water users in a water shortage.  And third, the committee recommends giving cannabis cultivators three years’ grace time to have storage infrastructure for a six-monthh water supply in place. Yet, if the contact chamber isn’t repaired in a timely way, those cultivators might need the storage immediately.

Also worth noting, the Board’s current thinking is that all forms of commercial cannabis businesses must comply with the annual application, water use projections, and water supply storage.

Fire Hydrants

The District had a major disappointment in their fire hydrant replacement project. Measure Z provided $60,000 to replace eight hydrants around the community that don’t function properly, and the Board is very grateful for that, but the bids came in much higher than the District had anticipated. The highest bid came in around $200,000. Wahlund Construction submitted the lowest bid, but even that was too high to do all eight hydrants.

GSD had asked the companies to develop their bids “per hydrant” so they could remove hydrants from the project if necessary without sending the project out to bid again.  As a result, the district has chosen four hydrants that are the highest priority, and Wahlund Construction will replace those for the $60,000 of Measure Z funds plus $10,000 of GSD General Fund money.

The four hydrants that will be replaced are the one at top, or south end, of Garberville which cannot currently be opened because its vacuum nut has failed so badly. The one in front of Calico’s restaurant because it is next to broken water meter boxes that can be repaired coincidentally. One on Riverview street on Sprowl Creek Road, and a new one will be put in at the Alderpoint Tank for use by fire departments in the wildland interface.

Board Member Richard Thompson asked twice if the project can go forward without a rebid, and Emerson said he consulted with legal council and states the district can move forward.

Rate Study

Chairperson Linda Broderson chairs a committee on the Rate Study. She is determined to even the monthly bills to penniless numbers. Charges of $60.22 will become $60 even. The General Manager is committed to not re-evaluating the sewer charge each winter. Once a customer’s sewer charge is determined, it will be set for the period of that customer’s residency to save work in the office each winter. Each customer’s sewer service is based on their water use in a winter month when presumably, no one is watering outdoors. Customarily that has been reevaluated each winter to account for growing and shrinking family sizes.

Board Vacancy

Gary Wellborn’s Board of Director’s seat remains unfilled. Currently, there are four board members, two of whom live outside the district. One of the two out-of-District residents, Rio Anderson, does have a business inside the district. These two Board members were appointed by the Board of Supervisors after the seats sat empty without interested applicants.  A person who lives and receives GSD water service is eligible to apply for its Board of Directors.  Anyone interested should stop by the office.



  • Most places I have lived have a separate “agricultural water district”. Ag water can be non-potable.

    • Most, if not all “Ag water” comes from sewer treatment plants, after the water has been treated. In the case of GSD, they must allow the treated water from their sewer treatment plant to percolate back into the river aquifer, through a series of percolation ponds, allowing the treated water to make its way back to the river, whence it came and the threatened and endangered species it supports, i.e. coho, chinook and steelhead ESA, ESU & EFH…

      • Water rights are complicated. In Placer county they use separate water systems originally built for mining (“flumes”). In Santa Paula there is a farmers co-op that uses water from the SP creek (built in the late 1940’s ) . Around San Luis Obispo and in the Salinas valley farmers pump their own water.

        • OK, all good points in those watersheds; however, GSD diverts surface water from the South Fork Eel, that by the way is a listed Wild & Scenic River, both State & Federal. That, BTW, can no longer support or provide enough water to a large group of aquatic species, including one the river was named after and include the development plans GSD has planned. So pick one, because the South Fork Eel cannot support both…

          Look at Northern Humboldt, they have so much water they don’t know what to do with it (Mad River). But yet, the Main Eel has stopped flowing and gone subterranean in Fortuna. Redwood Creek (Southern Humboldt), in 2017 stopped flowing:

          In my view, recreational cannabis is not a beneficial use of the South Fork Eel River. If you want to consider yourself a “farmer”, than consider Big Tobacco one as well, just say’n…

  • It seems Garberville is at the mercy of the big company. I am personally not a fan of Wahlund Construction. When Wahlund was installing the Kimtu water line, they cut our water line and AC power to our pump in the river. Yes, they repaired it but 6 months later it failed. We spent (with our neighbors) several thousand dollars to fix it. Then it failed again. The water pipe under the road leaks at their bad repair job and water just pours into the street ruining the roadway. Several letters to Wahlund went unanswered. Now they are holding SoHum hostage because they are one of the only games in town. $15,000 per hydrant is not good business, it’s extortion. Ralph will find the best price but SoHum is really remote and few companies want to travel that far.

    • So Gary, I guess you did not have time to notify CDPH or GSD you had electrical or water lines under the County Roadway? Did the State Waterboard know you were diverting surface water from the South Fork Eel? I don’t see you listed on the Electronic Water Rights Information Management System (eWRIMS) database developed by the State Water Resources Control Board to track information on water rights for the South Fork Eel River.

      Are you saying you had no idea CDPH was going to dig up Kimtu Road to lay an 8 inch waterline in the roadway to the Kimtu Subdivision all the way up to Garberville and connect to GSD?

      This is the first I have heard of this, did you bring it up while you were on the GSD Board?

  • Two towns with inadequate water merge, guaranteeing both will run dry together.

  • Emerson will cost us many more problems and a lot of money-Thank you Gary, Rio and the rest of the board for giving Emerson a raise from 78k a year to 120K per year !! wtf ? ( oh, ? Gary moved away ? how interesting, stayed long enough to give Emerson a raise and moved, I guess just good timing for Emerson ?) voted on by 3 board members who DO NOT live in this district !! These same members were hand picked by Emerson and put in place by Estelle Fennel. Easy for you to allow someone else to pay when you do not live here. I understand that there are a number of community members compiling info on Emerson and the board and getting ready for lawsuit that will cost the district more money to defend a crooked water company. Wake up Garberville, oh yes, that was Ralph and his employees looking into your backyard for pot plants, if he sees any he would like to charge you more for your water, or maybe it will be tomatoes this year ? And for all you legal grows: are you ok with Rio voting on your water rates when you are one of his competitors ? would you like to dictate his rates over at his farm ? Nice to know when we were drinking poopy water last month, Emerson was chilling with his family 400 hundred miles away where they live.

    • James I think you should consider filling that vacant seat on the board.

    • James:
      I want to say to you and all the readers: there have been no allegations that the water delivered has tested poorly since the contact chamber went offline. Barry Sutter of DDW has already said (paraphrasing) ‘if the District receives test results that dont meet state criteria, we will order them to issue a boil water notice.’

      there may be a water shortage this summer. or there may be high levels of chlorine this summer. or, hopefully, the contact chamber may be repaired and there may be no troubles at all. But the concern is for the future months not the last two months.

      your other concerns notwithstanding.

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    The content of this article should be seriously alarming to residents and business owners of Garberville. This matter of the water sanitation and the repair of the treatment facility and ultimately, the results of this investigation as to the cause needs immediate address. They are manually adding chlorine to the water and “pumping it slowly” to get around the broken contact chamber. Does this sound like a safe and reliable way to have clean water delivered to Garberville?

    Why would anyone want to travel through this town during the tourist season or consider relocating to the area with their family under these circumstances? Now we have dubious “clean” water and a possible shortage coming for summer?

    The economy and quality of life is collapsing around this once very lovely redwood town and it seems like residents and many business owners are asleep.

    Tainted water just compounds the current problems we already have; slowed economy, business closures, street vagrancy, bad roads, lack of hospitable services like restaurants and hotels…Time to wake up! Insist that GSD is accountable and gets this fixed immediately. Demand the fix of our county roads. Support small business and small business people who help keep the town alive. Remove the vagrants from your storefronts and pressure the hotels to stop keeping their properties as drug dens. Clean house. It’s time!

    • “Concerned Business Owner and Resident”; Thank you for ringing that alarm bell again, however, we tried to warn you and everyone else starting back in 2009 thru 2014, after we found out, that starting in 2007, GSD was meeting, communicating and making agreements privately with the Southern Humboldt Community Park (SHCP) Board, Steve Dazey, Buck Mountain Ranch LP, Sanford Goldeen and Bob McKee to build the new GSD treatment plant at its current location. Do you think it’s just happenstance it was planned and built there? HELL NO. The original scheme was that the Park, Dazey, Goldeen and McKee would receive a number of metered water connections at no cost from GSD, on top of Goldeen getting paid $25,000. However, we were able to make the scheme public. However, the plans that was not taken off the table, was the $25,000 paid to Goldeen or the 4 new 3/4 metered connections (at no charge) for the 80 acres that would be sold back to McKee.

      So I ask you, how many people benefited from all this, versas who paid for it?

      In past years, GSD Boards knew they could get away with all of this good’ol boy development because the public never attended GSD meeting and it worked; until they got too greedy and arrogant, his name was Mark Bryant (GSD GM), whom Emerson replaced. You get what you pay for…

  • In one of the previous blog threads about the GSD’s “contact chamber” debacle, GSD stated:

    “When the plant was built, the contact chamber was installed to accommodate potential water needs for the Community Park. All other customers can be served without having a contact chamber.”

    So, since the Southern Humboldt Community Park Board has no plans to use or be connected to GSD for drinking water, then why is GSD planning on repairing the “contact chamber”?

  • Here’s a little perspective, sent last week by my South African “e-pal”

    “Cape Town has had the worst drought in recorded history – and there recorded history means several hundred years. In April, all the water connections from the city will be shut off and people will have to collect 25 litres each per day. This is how they will cope on April 12!​ – Day Zero, when the city’s water supply gets turned off.”

    Their population is 3.75 million.

    • Yes I read about that, insane! And California with our drought and ever increasing population is not far behind. I urge everyone to take the correspondence course at CSU Sac and acquire a public health water treatment license. Understand what is needed to create your own potable drinking water so WHEN we run dry we have people with the skills and knowledge to turn a dirty water source into a clean one.

  • “redundancy”? Did GSD forget Redway gets its water from the same river (South Fork Eel), so if GSD runs out, who’s to say Redway will make up the difference? I thought GSD was going to increase its storage up on the hill, where the current storage tank is located, to three times? In fact, it was planned to include a 750,000 gallon water storage tank, what happened? And what does the RCSD say, who has GSD been talking with at RCSD?

    “This ongoing saga has highlighted to Emerson the need for an intertie between Garberville’s treated water system and that of the Redway’s Community Services District. Emerson said because the two districts are so isolated from everywhere else but so close to each other that “both districts would be irresponsible if there’s not an intertie developed.” Board Members agreed that for fire flow and other short-term high-demand uses, having a supply redundancy would benefit both communities.”

    Maybe this crack team of investigative news reports should ask RCSD for a comment? What happens if OJ Johnson gets his wish for the 250 acre development he has planned and requested; which include being annexed into RCSD district boundary for water & sewer connections?

    • GSD GM Emerson and a Board Member will attend a public RCSD meeting and give a public proposal. Until then, what would RCSD comment on?

      • “Until then, what would RCSD comment on?”

        Well, for starters, does RCSD even know anything about it? Has GSD and RCSD discussed this proposed “intertie”?

        Since this is new information, do you have a date this GSD proposal will be presented to the RCSD Board in public? And who gave you this information?

        Is Emerson a capacity analysis consultant for RCSD or know all the future development plans RCSD has for their water use and consumption? Is Emerson getting ahead of himself and speaking for the RCSD Board?

        “When asked about the RCSD capacity analysis, and how RCSD might feel their District doesn’t have water supply to spare in the high demand months, Emerson said he has looked at the RCSD capacity analysis and doesn’t see a shortage in their water supply at this time.”

        I’m also sure, Humboldt LAFCo would need to weigh in on this proposed “intertie” between GSD & RCSD; since the water used between the two districts is outside each others District Boundary, Sphere of Influence and Water Rights Place of Use.

        • Kelley!! That’s all this is for you, means to an end? It’s not just “SoHum Water”; it’s a living ecosystem and biodiversity, called the South Fork Eel River, that has existed on this earth for thousands of generations. Please try and remember that…

          And by “next installment”, you mean your next paycheck?

          “Board Members agreed that for fire flow and other short-term high-demand uses, having a supply redundancy would benefit both communities.”

          What are “other short-term high-demand uses”? Seems like a oxymoron.

          And please remember, the river does not have “supply redundancy” for its “communities”!

          • Ed,

            Kelley’s paycheck was $40 for this and that was me busting my bank to make it happen. I caution you. Don’t attack her. She is obviously passionate about getting information to the community or she wouldn’t do it for the pittance I pay her.

            This community and the river you claim to champion will not benefit by you being ugly to a woman working hard for little pay to get information to the public.

            Focus on what you have questions about and the answers you believe you have to offer. Stop the personal attacks on anyone who does not immediately adore every idea that comes from you. You are smart, passionate, and hardworking. But, you need to stop attacking my reporter for wanting a paycheck when you obviously make a great deal more than her.

            • Thank you for putting words in my mouth. What did I attack her with, the truth? She did not answer my question(s), only replied with an arrogant and disparaging response. Is that how reports that work for you respond to questions or constructive criticism?

              If you feel my comments broke any rules, please, by all means, delete and sensor my comments. I have seen when you have deleted posts personally attacking me, Thank you. However, someone wishing my death in a horrible way is not what I asked Kelley.

              BTW, I was not being “ugly”, I think we both know what that reads like, your word, not mine..

              How do you know I “obviously make a great deal more than her.”? I don’t make a dime posting on your blog, but she does.

              If you think I only “claim” to protect the river, then just say the word and I will stop right here and now, I will never post another word on this blog again, just say the word…

              • Was that a disparaging response? Or are you putting words in her mouth? She doesn’t have to respond to questions in the comment section that isn’t a part of her job.

                Your definition of “ugly” obviously is very different than mine.

                This comment from you implies you make a great deal more than the lifestyle the money I pay Kelley would give her.

                I believe you believe you are protecting the river.

        • FYI, I’m not trying to get your “readers amped”, I’m trying to get them mad enough to speak up and often, ask questions and don’t stop until they get answers. For an area that claims it protects the environment, grows organically, practices permaculture and for some calls themselves ‘back to the landers’, you sure hired a great sales and marketing team…

  • As far as the “Fire Hydrants” that are slated to be replaced, maybe those water haulers should pay for the one at the south end of town, which they have apparently worn out from filling their trucks 24/7? Why should tax or ratepayer funding be used for their private use for outside Garberville?

    And why can’t GSD staff replace “Fire Hydrants” in house?

    • thank you for giving a damn !! how about you on the board ? love the history tidbits !

      • And how much extra water will be needed for “events” at the Park? I hope people will become more aware and sensitive about water. Simplifying never goes out of style.

        • It’s not events that will use water as much as grass sports fields the Park Board got approved to build. That is estimated at 2 to 3 million gallons of irrigation per month (May-Oct) at between 5 to 10 acres of turf grass. With all water diverted from the South Fork Eel River, just up-stream from GSD’s intake gallery. Right now, the Park does not have potable water or been licensed and approved for a public water system on site. And the Park is not in the GSD District Boundary and could not even purchase water from GSD and have it trucked in. But at some point down the road, I’m sure the Park Board will be privately lobbying GSD and become another ratepayer, given their track record…

      • Your welcome james, I no longer live or own property in Garberville, and was never a GSD ratepayer, just trying to save and protect the South Fork Eel River and its habitat. If you do live in the GSD District Boundary, you should become a board member, or at least go to a board meeting and ask questions, demand answers. GSD is a public agency, accountable to its ratepayers, the general public, Humboldt LAFCo, State Water Board(s), Public Records Act, Brown Act, Health & Safety Code etc. I got involved in going to GSD meeting for years and could not believe how many ratepayers never attended meetings and never asked questions. That’s when I saw how GSD was able to do what they do. There was no accountability, because there was no one questioning the Board. Maybe it’s time to go to meeting again…

        • Po ick ur battles

          You’ll never save anything with your horrible attitude. Hasn’t life shown you anything in your older age? Or are you just alone and bored. Go for a walk or something. You turn people off who may agree with you

          [edit… stop] attacking Kelley, who does more for water and bringing the information to the public in one year than you have in your whole life. All you do is.create drama. Why don’t you start writing articles instead of [edit]?

          • “[edit… stop] attacking Kelley, who does more for water and bringing the information to the public in one year than you have in your whole life.”

            What does “does more for water” mean?

            “Why don’t you start writing articles instead of [edit]?”

            I have dozens and dozens of articles, letters to the editor, public comments to public agencies, some written my me, some by my attorney and consultants, from the AVA to the NCJ, from Eureka to Sacramento and everyplace in between; letting the public know about who, what, why, when and where the South Fork Eel, its wildlife habitat and ESA, ESU & EFH is being degraded and adversely affected by human activity and development. From shutting down near-stream asphalt batch plants, instream concrete/cement truck washout ponds, instream gravel production sediment ponds, non-permitted instream gravel extraction, removal of Benbow Dam and GSD selling/providing water outside it district boundary and Place of Use, just to name a few. But you’re right, I have much more to do in my lifetime and I plan on doing just that. Thanks for asking…

  • Po ick ur battles

    What about all those bags and big pond liner down there Ed? Doesn’t that water belongs to the fish.

    • Yes it does! And I argued that project too. Submitted my arguments and public comments, made them jump through about every environmental hoop I know, made them re-write their project twice and they still got it approved. Even though Fish & Wildlife and the CHP did not support their project, the Planning Commission approved it anyway. They are not taking water from the stream, they are taking it before it gets there. Just like the Mateel did at Reggae, when they put in that 800,000 gallon rain catchment pond with no public meetings, no public input and no CEQA. Funny thing about that pond, it was empty a week before Reggae 2017. Who was hauling the water out of there? While rainwater catchments maybe legal in California, it still doesn’t mean you can bypass CEQA!

      • Po ick ur battles

        I really don’t like you but I was wondering the same thing. It was empty before the festival… What gives mateel people?

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Ed I appreciate all the comments you have made on local issues here and on various threads. This matter with GSD water quality, policy, rates, possible shortages and backdoor deals deserves attention at the county/state level. Especially now that water is being approved for larger agricultural purposes and commercial cannabis growers are on the board, writing up these policies. I think we are looking at the underbelly of an agency (GSD) that is corrupt, shrouded in secrecy, conflict of interest and possibly criminal.

    The challenge I’m seeing is that these special districts are off the radar, many times with disinterested people paying for all of this malfeasance through outrageous policies and rates.

    I’ve queried people all over California now and I am still trying to find the right avenues to get an outside investigation on the So-Hum water situation, from the health and environmental impact, to the legalities here moving forward. I would appreciate your suggestions on what agencies you think are open to hearing the concerns of our smaller towns.

  • “Concerned Business Owner and Resident”, good question. The California Special Districts Association (CSDA) is a large and strong lobby, of which Emerson is on their Board and GSD is a member. This is a private organization, only for its membership, not the public, to use.

    Unlike the Local Agency Formation Commission (Humboldt LAFCo) which is a public agency. However, is under contract and administered by private partnership. In the case of Humboldt County, LAFCo is administered by:

    Not even the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will help, even though they appoint the GSD Board.

    Its very hard to crack this egg. IMHO, I would suggest you or more members of the public attend GSD meetings. It doesn’t matter if you are a ratepayer or not, it doesn’t matter if you live in their district or not. The South Fork Eel is not the property of GSD to use as they want. They have to abide by their State Waterboards license and permit.

    If you only go to the monthly Board Meeting to hold their feet to the fire by asking questions and demanding answers,that works the best. For example; at each and every meeting, ask for all Board Members to disclose all Ex Parte Communication they have conducted outside of a publicly noticed meeting, i,e,:

    “Someone who knows you’re on the GSD Board sees you in the checkout line at the grocery store, or at church, or at the PTO meeting, and wants to talk to you about a pending rezoning or a development permit under consideration. Though it may seem harmless, this is an important mistake to avoid. Ex parte communication is a violation of public open meeting laws because you are giving one person unfair advantage by discussing a business matter outside of a public meeting where everyone present would otherwise have access to the same information. When you are approached for ex parte communication, politely explain that this is official government business and you simply cannot discuss it outside of a properly advertised meeting. Then invite the person to attend the next scheduled GSD Board meeting.”

    At the start of any publicly noticed Board meeting ask if all GSD Board Members if they have attended Brown Act & Public Records Act training.

    “COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE: Up to fifteen minutes of this portion of the meeting are reserved for members of the public to address the Board on items not listed on the agenda and within the jurisdiction of the GSD Board. Speakers are limited to 3 minutes. The GSD Board is prohibited by law from taking action on matters discussed that are not on the Agenda, and no adverse conclusions should be drawn if the GSD Board does not respond to public comment at this time.”

    In general, this is the best I can suggest, I hope it helps. If the public doesn’t hold public agency accountable, this is what happens…

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Thanks Ed. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. I wondered if you might have a way for me to contact you directly outside of this public forum?

    Please let me know

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Thanks, I appreciate that and will contact you.

    • “Concerned Business Owner and Resident”; here’s a great example of how backroom deals work, between private developers, pubic agencies and elected officials. In this case, its between Kathryn Lobato representing the Park Board (private developer) and a private meeting between GSD, Humboldt LAFCo and the County Planning Department. Please note, the email was sent to Supervisor Fennell from Kathryn Lobato recounting the private meeting. The meeting that took place between the SHCP, GSD, Humboldt LAFCo, Planning and then emailed to Supervisor Fennell was never disclosed to the public, until I submitted a Public Records Act request. There are many dozens of email and communications similar to this I received, this is how deals are made, outside of public meetings and are hardly ever disclosed to the public. That is why asking for Ex Parte Communication from public agency Board members, Planning Commissioners and Supervisors is so important, because their answers are on the public record during Board meetings…

      BTW, Supervisor Fennell in on the Humboldt LAFCo Board as well.

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Thank you!

  • Since this article was published, there was a article in the Indie last week:

    “GSD Needs New Chlorine Chamber Before Summer, GM Says”

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018; By Keith Easthouse, Independent Staff Writer.

    It this article by “Easthouse”, who attended the GSD meeting, it states:

    “Emerson said it’s his aim to keep the cost of whatever replacement is chosen below $200,000. The cost of the system that failed was approximately $250,000 at the time of installation, according to Short.”

    Now, according to Kelley Lincoln’s previous article (December 3, 2017):

    “When the plant was built, the contact chamber was installed to accommodate potential water needs for the Community Park. All other customers can be served without having a contact chamber. However, in summer, higher water demand will shorten the delivery time. This means using twice the chlorine that has been needed according to Arreguin”

    So now we know that GSD used $250,000 of ratepayer money for private development and infrastructure for the Southern Humboldt Community Park (SHCP)! This does not include the $40,000 GSD spent on their environmental study and consultants during the GSD Annexation process to include the SHCP property for metered water service. However, even though GSD spent over $290,000 on the SHCP, the SHCP was never included in the GSD Annexation process (2013), which would have included the SHCP into the GSD District Boundary and Place of Use. In fact, the GSD Board voted to take the SHCP completely out of their Annexation process altogether (2013). No wonder none of this was ever disclosed to the GSD ratepayers or the public!

    My question to GSD; if you knew the SHCP was not going to be included in the GSD District Boundary and Place of Use (2013) for public water, why did you go ahead and spend the money ($250K) for that contact chamber; since the SHCP Board and their CEQA consultant have stated publicly in their DEIR they will develop and maintain their own onsite public water system?

    Until December 2017, the GSD ratepayers were unaware GSD spend $250,000 for only SHCP’s private use and now want to spend another $200,000 to repair and improve it? Maybe if the SHCP was a “Public Park”, like what Tooby Park use to be, when it was a County Park; the public could attend their Board meeting and the public had access documents like GSD, maybe I could get onboard. However, the SHCP land is private property, operated and administered by a private public benefit and tax exempt corporation and its non-elected Board of Directors.

    I guess that old say’n is true; “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Thanks for posting all of this information with the links.

    It would be appropriate for locals paying these rates and local journalists to start looking into this situation very seriously.

    These costs are outrageous and it looks like there is almost no oversight or oversight that is controlled by a very limited number of people. There are much better ways for this type of money to be spent in a struggling community….

    Ed, would you consider submitting this information as a letter to the editor in this publication and others so rate payers can be better informed about what is going on with GSD…? The issues are complex and I think this information should be readily available public information for Garberville.

  • I had, that’s why I said:

    “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”

    IMHO, until the GSD ratepayers want to take their public water & sewer district back, they will be doing what they always do, which is nothing, until it’s too late. I’m sure, in the not to distant future, GSD will sell out to a private entity like the Benbow Water Company did:

    Maybe you should see the movie “Chinatown” or look into the Kern Water Bank Authority and their relationship with Stewart $ Lynda Resnick.

    Think about it, no one could control the water grab used by black market cannabis and now its legal, you do the math and good luck getting anyone to listen…

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