On March 7th the AV Community Services District held a public information meeting for the parcel owners who live within the planned Drinking Water district. The well-attended meeting (in person and virtual) addressed the questions and answers below.
The current planning phase involves communicating with every parcel owner within the boundary to survey interest in signing up for Drinking Water. Once we have the data about how many owners intend to hook-up, it will be possible to calculate actual rates. This process is important and might take a couple of months as we need to touch base with every parcel owner. Clearly, the more hook-ups we have, the lower the rates.
The State Water Board Department of Financial Assistance has committed approximately $19 Million for the Drinking Water project and approximately $17 Million for the Sewer project. The Sewer project will be heading into its public information phase by mid- summer. The boundary maps are posted outside the Fire Station for reference for everyone.
Q: How was a sufficient water supply identified?
Wells were identified for potential acquisition using Well Completion Reports filed with the County and State. Owners interested in supporting the project also reached out to the District.
Q: How many wells will the system require? How many new wells?
The total number of wells required to supply the system will depend on participation level in the project, and the yield of wells to be constructed. Total number of wells could range from 10 to 15 with 2 to 5 being new ones. Well construction and testing will occur at the front end of the construction project.
Q: Will my private well production be affected by the municipal well?
Most existing private wells will not be affected by the public wells due to their distance therefrom. Wells near the public wells may be affected due to localized lowering of the water table.
Q: Will there be enough water during droughts?
The public water system would be more resilient to a drought than individual private wells. While a drought would impact all wells throughout the valley, the District would be able to proactively respond to changes in the water table because the public well water levels will be continuously monitored whereas private wells are not.
Q: Will there be adequate water to allow us to remodel and add ADUs (granny units)? Will there be adequate water to allow us to rebuild the burned buildings and replace abandoned buildings?
State regulations allow supply to be acquired and/or constructed necessary to serve existing development (structures), whether occupied or currently vacant, with a 10% allowance for future development. Future development would include accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Note: The projected water demand for the service area has been estimated using usage data from similar communities. Several years of water system operation will be required before actual water demand is known.
Q: What about if we remodel and are required to install sprinkler systems?
Water services will be sized to accommodate the installation of residential sprinklers.
Q: Can I continue to use my own well?
The District has no plans to prohibit continuing use of private wells within the service area provided that an approved backflow device is installed to protect the public water system from potential cross contamination.
Q: Is my well going to be regulated and will the construction of new private wells be prohibited?
The District does not intend to regulate existing private wells and no decision has been made regarding prohibiting the construction of new private wells within the water system service area.
Q: How does the water system deal with power outages?
Water service during short-term outages will be maintained by deliveries from storage. To mitigate a long-term outage and ensure water service continues uninterrupted, the largest production and treatment site will be equipped with a fixed generator. All other sites will be equipped with a generator connection. The District will have at least one portable generator on hand that can be utilized where needed.
Q: How is he fire hydrant system designed?
Fire hydrants will generally be spaced 500 feet apart and be capable of delivering at least 1,000 gallons per minute.
Q: Will there be enough pressure to use hydrants if there is no power?
Hydrant pressure is maintained by the water level in the storage tanks and will not be impacted by a power outage.
Q: Will having a hydrant near my home help reduce my homeowners’ insurance rate?
After the water system is completed, the fire coverage portion of homeowners’ insurance bills should cost less for properties in the water service.
Q: If a fire occurs at my home and a hydrant is used to fight it, will I be charged?
Owners will not be charged for water used from a fire hydrant to suppress a fire on their property. Water flowing through a building sprinkler system to suppress a fire will be charged at the then current usage rate.
Q: Could fighting fire drain the system dry?
Theoretically yes, the water system could be drained during a wildfire event. However, system storage will be monitored continuously so that appropriate storage can be retained for domestic purposes. System storage will include a 180,000-gallon fire storage component, a volume necessary for the largest buildings in the service area.
Q: How is the water treated?
All water will be disinfected by the addition of a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite. The target chlorine residual will be 1 part per million or less. When excess concentrations of minerals (iron and manganese) are present in the groundwater, direct filtration using a specialized media will be employed. This process may also involve the addition of sodium hypochlorite. Water produced from wells having a concrete seal extending less than 50 feet below the ground surface may be required to undergo further filtration. When required, additional filtration will be accomplished using a State-approved cartridge filtration system. No chemical additions are associated with this process.
Q: What chemicals are used?
The only chemical anticipated to be used is sodium hypochlorite.
Rates and Charges
Q: How will I be charged?
While water rates have yet to be established, it is anticipated that water rates will consist of a base charge and a usage rate that will be applied to the volume of water used during the billing period.
Q: Can you give us an idea of an approximate bill for a typical single-family residence?
Based on participation in the project, the average monthly bill for a typical residential connection is currently projected to be $80 to $90 per month in today’s dollars. The base rate for a residential customer that does not use any water is anticipated to range between $60 and $70 per month depending on the participation level in the project, and the water rate structure selected by the District.
Q: Is there any financial assistance for low-income households or seniors?
The District has not yet discussed establishing financial assistance programs for any class of users.
Q: What if I do not want to hook up now?
Property owners that choose to connect to the water system after it has been completed will be subject to fees and costs that project participants would not. The property owner would be responsible for a District-established connection fee, County or State encroachment permit fees, the cost of the public water service lateral and meter, and downstream private plumbing from the meter to the structure(s).
Q: What will it cost to hook up later? How did you arrive at the cost to hook up later?
The District will need to establish a connection fee. It is anticipated the connection fee will be equivalent to the property owner’s pro rata share of the costs to plan, design, and construct the supply, treatment, and storage facilities. Based on current project cost estimates, the connection fee would be approximately $30,000 for a single-family residential parcel.
Q: Who oversees the system? Who does the billing?
The CSD Board of Directors will be responsible for administration of the water system, including billing.
Q: What are the ongoing operational responsibilities?
Ongoing operations include checking that supply and treatment facilities are functioning properly, verifying active supply sources are satisfying demands and maintaining proper storage, and monitoring well yields and operating water levels.
Q: How does the Water District administrators plan for future costs/replacements?
The District will be presented with rate structure options that generate funds annually designated for future repairs and replacements.
Q: Will a tech come read my meter?
An automated metering system will be installed and utilized by the District. Meter readings will be transmitted to a cloud server and then on to the District. A tech will only be dispatched to read a meter should there be a problem with the communications between the meter and the office or to verify a reading.
Q: Will the District carry liability insurance on the water system for unexpected accidents or spills/pollution?
The District will carry a broad range of insurance coverages including liability insurance. Water systems operation will not involve any toxic substances.
Mendocino Planning and Building
Q: Does having a Municipal Drinking Water system create more opportunities for me to develop my parcel?
For some zoning classifications, a municipal water system reduces the minimum lot size required for development. Also, abandonment of an onsite well may also increase the area that could be used for onsite wastewater disposal thereby facilitating development.
Q: Will my property taxes go up if I am on the municipal system?
Properties are not subject to a reassessment following connection to the water system.
Q: Will adding an ADU require a new water service, or can it be connected to the main home’s service?
ADA units can be added to existing residential properties provided that historical water demands indicate that the existing meter size will be adequate.
Existing Public Water Systems
Q: I have a restaurant, clinic, school, tasting room, etc., and I am regulated and certified by the District Water Board, and I must have my water tested monthly… How will I be affected by being on a municipal system?
After a business that is operating a public water system is connected to the municipal water system, their public water system no longer exists.
Q: Will my property taxes go up if I am on the municipal system?
Property taxes will not change due to connection to a municipal water system.
Q: If all major costs for the system and private laterals are being funded by the State, what will be my out-of-pocket expenses? As a private parcel owner? As a non-profit? As a business?
Residential, non-profit, and institutional property owners will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses. Businesses will be responsible for the installation of the private lateral from the meter to the structure(s).
The service area includes properties developed with both commercial and residential structures. Guidance regarding who will be responsible for the private lateral costs in this circumstance has not yet been provided by the State.
Q: Will the lateral come only to the property line?
The publicly owned water service lateral will extend from the distribution main to the parcel property line.
Q: Will the property owner be responsible for any cost to hook up water to residence?
As previously indicated, residential, non-profit, and institutional property owners will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses including the cost of the private plumbing between the meter and the structure(s). Businesses will be responsible for the installation of their private plumbing between the meter and the structure(s).
Q: How will the laterals be planned on my parcel? Who will decide where laterals will be routed?
Property owners will be contacted during the design phase by a representative of the engineering company. An onsite meeting will be scheduled so that the property owner can communicate their preferred route of the onsite private plumbing. The lateral route will be decided by the District following receipt of input from the property owner.
Q: How will trenches be dug?
Trenching on private property will be accomplished by whatever means appropriate; hand digging to mechanical equipment.
Q: Who will be responsible for repairing or replacing disturbed landscaping, driveways, sidewalks, and existing plumbing and electrical lines that will be encountered by trenching?
Restoration of existing utilities, hardscape (driveways, walkways, etc.), and landscaping will be a project responsibility. Piping routes will be selected that minimize restoration requirements, particularly with respect to landscaping.
Q: If I have multiple buildings, will a lateral run to each building?
Private piping installed on each property may not necessarily extend to each building. If all onsite structures can be served via a connection to existing onsite plumbing, that approach will be given consideration.
Q: Can I have multiple meters so there is one for each building?
The District will install a single meter at each property. If desired, the property owner may install multiple downstream meters for segregation of costs.
Empty lots (lots with no prior history of constructed facility)
Q: Can I have a water meter installed at my unimproved parcel so I can develop it later? If a property within the system does not have a residence, e.g., bare lot or hangar/barn only, does it qualify for an initial State funded (no cost to owner) hookup to the water system?
Water services will only be installed to developed properties. Should the owner of a vacant property desire to have a meter installed as part of the project, the owner will need to inform the District of their desire and pay for its installation outside the project construction contract. Prior to activation of the water service, the owner will need to pay all applicable fees (including a connection fee) and request that the District install a meter in the meter box.
Q: When will construction start, how long will it take and when do you estimate we will be able to have the system up and running?
Construction will commence no sooner than 2026 and take two full construction seasons to complete and fully activate.
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