Even though February has but 28 days, the month seemed to go by rather quickly.

CONSERVATION is still the word for the day. Everyone reading this should take a bow, in recognition of the overall effort to save water. I saw a sign on a lawn that read: BROWN is the new GREEN. Anyone with a saying or slogan that speaks to water conservation is asked to share it with us. Please forward your quote to Brown lawns, dried up flowerbeds are better than empty water sheds.

Last month, the Board of Directors took action and engaged the services of a Grants Writing firm, MC Engineering from Sacramento, CA to work with the Water Company in the pursuit of grants and/or very low interest loans that will be available from a number of funding sources. One of the firm’s principals attended the February Board meeting and spoke about the successes the firm has had working with other water companies. (We also spoke with their customer referral companies.)

You will recall last month reading about the measure passed by the California voters last year, Proposition 1 and the billions of dollars that will be made available because of it. The “Rules of Engagement” for accessing the funding have not been published as yet but we must be ready when that moment occurs. In the meanwhile, we are providing the grant writers with all necessary up-front information on the history of the Water Company and our Long Range Strategic Plan for the completion of metering the entire system and continued upgrading of the present infrastructure. I would anticipate that there will be noticeable competition for the grant funds, which will amount to $7.5 billion statewide. Our interest and direction to the grant writing firm is to additionally survey and visit very low interest loans should the grants not cover our needs or we fail to meet the criteria of grant eligibility.

Meanwhile the ever continuing search for water moves forward. As you recall we have surveyed a number of possible well sites. A few are proving fruitful and some are not. The Board accepted the Manager’s recommendation, based upon consult with the engineers, to cease moving forward on one of our newer well sites. We discovered a conflict between one of the new wells and another well site, which is being prepared to come on line. In essence the wells would be in competition with one another.

When searching for and then finding water, we have to be conscious of the distance and proximity among the wells, current and future. There is no direct way to detect if well sites are too close, except we refrain from drilling in any area if we think there will be a conflict. On occasion, even if we are sufficient distance from other wells, this conflict occurs. The dilemma goes like this: we choose a well site based upon the chance of availability of ground water. We consider this new site to all other well sites, current and proposed. We drill.

Either we find water that we feel has sufficient gallon per minute (gpm) flow or we stop. If the “flow” is too low, we abandon the project site. (Less than 35-55 gpm). If the “flow” is acceptable in gpm, we levy a stronger well test for an extended period, usually up to 24 hours. The extended test allows us to measure continuous gpm AND the site’s ability to recover or “refill” once the water is drawn. Should this test not perform, we stop further development.

In this phase, the new well water delivery is measured to the current in-service wells. Assuming no conflict, we move to develop the well. There are two current wells sites that have stood this test and are in the continuing development stages, which means we are moving to connect the new wells to our existing pipeline system.

As mentioned before, in addition to well development we are still working with the Calaveras County Water District and the Utica Water Power and Authority researching the possibilities of purchasing water. A redundant system continues to be a priority.

At the February meeting, Dennis Mills and Bertha Underhill from the Calaveras County Water District were present. Dennis Mills was inviting BLSMWC to participate in a working group from Water Companies that extend along the Highway 4 Corridor. The purpose of the group was to discuss mutual issues of concern as to the procurement and delivery of water. The Board appointed two Board members to attend the forthcoming meetings. Water is a shared area of interest for everyone.

Finally it is critical we continue to conserve. I know we are. I thank you profusely for that.

Bob Maginnis
President of the Board