Letter to the Editor Questions GSD’s Choices

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Garberville Sanitary District water treatment facility

Garberville Sanitary District water treatment facility [Photo by Kelley Lincoln]

Dear Garberville Sanitary District (GSD) ratepayers;

Since this article about GSD was published on Redheaded Blackbelt:


There was a article in last weeks Independent:

“GSD Needs New Chlorine Chamber Before Summer, GM Says”; January 30, 2018; By Keith Easthouse, Independent Staff Writer.

In 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.”

And, according to Kelley Lincoln’s previous article published on Redheaded Blackbelt (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 public loans and grant money for private development and infrastructure for the Southern Humboldt Community Park (SHCP)! This does not include over $40,000 that GSD specificly use on their environmental study and consultants during the GSD Annexation process for the SHCP property and 2″ metered water service connection. However, even though GSD spent over $290,000 of ratepayer funding 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 or reported to the GSD ratepayers!




My question to GSD ratepayers; if the GSD Board knew SHCP was going to be excluded from the GSD District Boundary and Place of Use (2013) for public water, why did they go ahead and spend the money ($250K) for that contact chamber? And why now, after SHCP Executive Director (Kathryn Lobato) and their CEQA consultant have stated publicly and in their FEIR they will develop and maintain their own onsite potable public water system, with no plans to be annexed:

“Given that the EIR process itself is costly — Lobato said earlier this month that the park has spent “upwards of $250,000” on a total of roughly 15 consultant studies for the EIR — she made clear on Sunday that ponying up almost as much money to cover the price-tag of getting annexed by GSD simply isn’t in the cards.”


Until December 2017, the GSD ratepayers were unaware GSD spend $250,000 for SHCP’s private use and now want to spend another $200,000 to repair and improve it all over again for the benefit of SHCP? Maybe if the SHCP was a “Public Park”, like Tooby Park use to be, when it was a County Park; the public could attend Board meeting, Planning meetings, including public access to public records and documents, maybe I could get onboard. However, the SHCP land is private property, operated and administered by a private public benefit and tax exempt corporation, including their self-selected SHCP Board of Directors. paid staff, and approved for development, including massive water use from the South Fork Eel River.

Here is a great example how GSD Board Members, Humboldt County Officials and SHCP meet in private, behind closed doors, to conduct private business, outside of a public meeting:


GSD is hoping you don’t come to meetings, ask questions or look behind the curtain. The South Fork Eel River is a public and natural resource, GSD is a public agency; not a private broker for private water use and private development outside GSD’s District Boundary.

Thank you,
Ed Voice & Voice Family
Former resident and homeowner Garberville/Redway 1961-2015



  • Someone Who Gives A Sh!t

    For what it’s worth… I believe it is very important for the communities involved to take a pragmatic approach to their service providers. While it is important to constructively criticize our providers when necessary it is perhaps even more important to avoid the kind of sniping that leads many towards mistrust in anything associated with utility providers, government, school boards, etc…

    The easiest thing in the world to do is critically attack someone/thing while sitting back and doing nothing. Just read the comments on this site and tell me all the bullshit people write is good for our community and I’ll shut up.

    It’s our community to make or break. I sincerely hope we make it.

    • “It’s our community to make or break”

      Really? And does your community own the South Fork Eel River to make or break?

      Let me point out GSD is a member of the “California Special Districts Association” and Ralph Emerson is a Board Member (Northern Network):


      Let me ask you; does “California Special Districts Association” represent the best interest of the South Fork Eel River and its community?

      IMHO, the easiest thing in the world to do is critically attack someone/thing while using an anonymous name. Some of us sit up and do something about it. GSD is a public agency with the County of Humboldt and subject to all the laws, rules and regulations of the State of California, not just your community!

      Are you speaking for the coho, chinook, steelhead, eel, frog, flora/fauna or bird/raptor community?

  • So let me get this straight, I pay out the ass for my apartment. Over $1,000 for a one bedroom apartment, I work fulltime and still can barely afford this. On top of this I constantly have issues with the water, I went over two weeks without any plumbing or water at this apartment. The property manager then tells me Ralph Emerson from the water company is watching my apartment to make sure I don’t secretly have roommates. Now I hear that the water company has used ~$200,000 for private endeavors? What the fuck. Maybe Ralph should stop spying on the apartments of young women and get his shit together and do his job. This is infuriating and honestly disgusting, I’m appalled.

  • And they want a pipe to get 80K gal. a day from Redway when needed. Don’t worry Redway, Ralph says he has seen your engineer’s reports and you have plenty of water. Calfire has received 40K gal. in a day from Redway before, they used tanker trucks.

  • This is a lot more fishy than the south fork of the Eel River. Looks like a few people deciding what is good for everyone so long as everyone but them pays for it.

  • Concerned Business Owner and Resident

    Thanks for sharing this $500,000 disaster courtesy of the GSD board and management. This is a disgrace and a very wasteful use of the Garberville rate payer’s money. Water shortage for summer and mystery chlorine mix – YUCK!

    This is what we are paying for people. Start asking questions. This is not right. Who is accountable for this mess and our wasted funds for this dubious contact chamber fiasco?

    We should have zero confidence in GSD, the management and their shady business practices. It’s all there in the above letter if you take the time to educate yourself.

    The issues raised in the letter above merit investigation. The public and local journalists should take note and dig deeper. This was a beautiful town that is now failing because of collective apathy and fiscal abuse, not just in Garberville but throughout the county.

    We are paying some of the highest water rates in the state and this is what we are getting along with boil water notices. This is bad for our town and bad for our local health and economic interests. GSD = Theft + Money Pit Filled With Your Dollars!

  • Thanks for keeping them honest Mr Voice.

    Funny how no one wants to hear what you have to say about the community park, but when their water and water rates are defended by you, you get thanked.

    Odd how that works out eh?

    Thanks again Ed Voice.

  • Your welcome “Semper Fi”, I know what you mean and then some. Between fight’n with Randall Sand & Gravel, Park Board and the Mateel, you never know what people will do or say to try and shut you up. It just makes me fight that much harder!

    The funny thing about the Park Board, they might have got the green light for their private field of dreams development scheme, but only on paper. They’ll need allot mo’ money, millions, to make their grandiose vision of a Park more than a disc golf course, farming, vineyard. cattle grazing, Tooby Park and a walking path, which is all fine by me. Right now, they say they only use 5 to 7 acre feet of un-metered water a year from the river. They need to keep it that way.

    And speaking of the Mateel, did you read the latest and greatest letter sent to the Mateel from the State Attorney General’s office, dated February 2, 2018?


    Seems like the Mateel’s days are numbered…

    • I know all about your beef with Randalls and the Park but I missed what the Mateel did that pissed you off. What is so groovy about the Mateel going down. I have never been a member but have been to a number of concerts and ceremonies there over the years. I find no pleasure in their troubles.

      • Well Dave; the Mateel needs to stop the yearly disposal of 44,000 gallons of wastewater into leachfields onsite, below the ordinary high water at Reggae that percolates into the surface water and increases the E Coli in the South Fork Eel River by 3 times during and after the event!


        BTW Dave, I didn’t say it was “groovy about the Mateel going down”, that was you.

        And you don’t know “all about your beef with Randalls and the Park”, you know less than 0.001%!

        • Ed you continue to have a sketchy relationship with the truth. By the time the river rose to cover the existing leach fields the CFS flow would be so great that any effluent would be extremely diluted. The document you link to are estimates and do not mention anything about water quality. E Coli counts are not mentioned and one would have to show year to year changes in flow rate to use your blanket statement of ” 3 Times” in any meaningful way.

          • Thank you Dave, for once you make my point. That link did say they were only “estimates”, could have been allot more? Since they don’t meter or measure the amount of wastewater they generate, or the amount of water they divert. treat and store either? Shows you how the oversight and mitigation from a County and State agency would allow this to happen, but yet it does, every year.

            The leachfields are less than 400 feet from the low surfacewater flow in July/August from 3 different leachfields, when the river is at a low CFS, Explain how the river only records higher levels of E Coli during and after Reggae and not before? Ask GSD and Redway CSD, they will confirm it too! Problem is, habitat in the river cannot just add more chlorine to their drinking water, can they!

            However, you are correct, that link did not provide the sufacewater tests before, during and after Reggae. I guess in my “sketchy” mind I didn’t think I needed to provide all the facts to back up the “truth”? But this link does, at the end of the report:


            I guess all those years on the Planning Commission paid off, you can ask pertinent questions if you want too. Thanks for asking Dave.

  • Ralph Emerson and the entire board and staff should be held accountable—-and yes, thank you Ed for the valuable information. If we are to get water from Redway then let us have the Redway staff oversee Garberville- –any legal issues Emerson has here will be defended using our money. Please Mr. Emerson you have made enough money from us, do the right thing and leave, saving the community valuable time and MONEY. Just looking at your legal expenses from your last job should be enough to convince people that you are not right for our community. And why was Tina fired ? For bringing this sort of behavior to light.Shameful.And illegal,which is why there is a lawsuit pending.

  • Kick rocks Emerson!

  • To be fair, I think the trouble began before Emerson’s time. But on the other hand, he’s been General Manager for several years now, so he’s had some time to deal with it. Ed Voice was not the only person suspicious of GSD’s dealings with SHCP, and I think there were a number of GSD former staffers and board members who sincerely — but wrongly! — thought this would be beneficial to the community. Also, when seeking for state funding for a project, pumping up the appearance of “community benefit” esp. by cooperation with “non-profits” looks so nice on the application.

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