BROOKTRAILS TOWNSHIP COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
BROOKTRAILS COMMUNITY CENTER
24850 Birch Street, Willits, CA 95490
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
The Board of Directors of Brooktrails Township Community Services District met in regular session September 13, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. in Brooktrails Community Center.
A. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
B. ROLL CALL
Roll call showed the following Directors present: Ziady, Horrick, Pohlson, and Orth. Director Skezas was absent with notice. Also present were General Manager Chapman and District Counsel Neary.
REPORT ON CLOSED SESSION
C. ADDITIONS/ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA
D. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETINGS
1. August 23, 2005 -- President Orth noted that the correct dollar amount for the Clearwell invoice (Item 3 in the Consent Calendar) was $168,973.50. Director Ziady moved to approve the minutes with that correction; Director Horrick seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
E. SPECIAL PRESENTATION
Tom Herman -- SHN Consulting - Report on City of Willits Sewer Plant Project: Mr. Herman briefed the Board on the history of the project. Beginning in the mid-1990s, the Willits sewer staff notified the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) that Willits could not consistently comply with the discharge dilution rate required by the RWQCB Basin Plan. That plan requires a discharge dilution rate of 1 part effluent to 100 parts receiving water. In actuality, discharge ratios are worst in the rainy season due to ground saturation. He said you could probably only meet the standard about 20% of the time in the winter; the rest of the time you have to store, or discharge in non-compliance.
Throughout the 1990s, consultants were hired and studies were done. The people who built the successful marsh system for the City of Arcata were contacted by RWQCB, and this led to the Long-Term Wastewater Treatment & Management Plan prepared by Hydro Resources, Inc. in 2000. They proposed a priority solution to create a wetlands marsh treatment / storage system, and it was also decided to request a change in the required discharge ratio from 1:100 to 4:100.
The next step was the environmental impact report in 2002. Mr. Herman displayed diagrams of the project and process. [The current plant is 25 years old, designed in the '60s and upgraded in the '70s.] Under the new plan, the goal was to do a project that was environmentally friendly, eliminated the majority of the need to handle solids, and had a longer economic life. This pond system has an estimated economic life of at least 40 years. Technically the effluent would be pre-screened and discharged into a series of oxidation ponds, which do the same thing as the extended mechanical plant. There would be a 60'-deep fermentation pit wherein the initial solids would settle out and be digested anaerobically. The discharge would then go through a series of treatment wetlands, and ultimately through a disinfection system. Currently the City uses chlorination; the use of chemicals is falling now into disrepute. The identified goal for final disinfection is ultraviolet treatment. It has no chemical residue and also treats biohazards better than chlorine does. After the treatment wetlands, effluent is filtered through the disinfection chamber and then discharged back into "enhancement wetlands" for storage during the winter until there is sufficient flow in the creek to discharge. The entire system represents about 200 acre feet of storage.
Mr. Herman continued that the RWQCB finally gave approval to submit a preliminary application for this plant design. An identified problem was that there would be some 50 acres of impacts to the existing, seasonal wetlands-basically hayfields used for grazing, which are wetlands for 14 days out of the year. The City purchased another 125-acre parcel after the approval of the final EIR. The upland portion of the property can be turned into constructed wetlands to mitigate the wetland impacts. This led to an addendum to the EIR. CalTrans's bypass route also runs by the project and will affect the current clarifier; they will have to build a bridge, acquire right of way, etc. The addendum to the EIR identified the purchased property and the means to mitigate the environmental impacts. These were not limited simply to wetlands, but included flooding of the valley, to be mitigated by an inset floodplain. Areas of healthy populations of Baker's meadowfoam, an endangered species that grows where cows eat down grass, would require mitigation areas reserved for both current and future habitat.
The next document was the funding document and entitled the Preliminary Engineering Report, dated May 2004, and prepared for USDA Rural Development, which has recently granted funding for the project. This is the report with the estimated project cost and is the basis for the USDA loan of $10 million, and a grant of $1 million. Although the CEQA process has been completed, a NEPA document must now be done. Funding is in place, but permitting is in process.
Mr. Herman then described some complications. Early on, Willits was led to believe that the process of impact to wetlands was monitored by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and this was incorporated in the project concept. The designers believed that the wetlands, by being made permanent instead of seasonal, were thus enhanced and did not need further mitigation, with the exception of the impact of the berms and the total footprint of the oxidation ponds, which are not classified as either wetland or marsh. This totals some 50 acres. Mitigations for this were identified in a table in the EIR addendum. The Corps of Engineers liked this idea of replacing 50 acres. However, about two years ago, the RWQCB was also given purview over wetlands, and this created a whole new regulatory environment in which RWQCB began to disagree with the US Army Corps' opinion. RWZCB held that the marshes and wetlands were part of a treatment system plant, and therefore could not be considered wetlands. Because of this complication, the City may now have to mitigate the entire project footprint, which is unfortunately more than can be done with the newly acquired property.
Mr. Herman then showed a diagram of all the parcels owned as part of the treatment plant. Some were certified by the Corps of Engineers as wetlands. Others were designated as upland that could be turned into wetlands. However, there are not enough of these uplands to mitigate the entire footprint. A recent suggestion from RWQCB was making the disinfection point "the discharge point of compliance." This would require an additional effort to take all of the upland land, rather than just one strip, and turn it into wetlands. This adds about $1 million to the project.
The City's current position is that all of the documents were reviewed and responded to by the RWQCB without argument by them before for a one-to-one replacement. This month the City will file a 401 permit application to place fill in the wetlands through the RWQCB, and a 404 permit to place fill in the wetlands through the Army Corps of Engineers. They will "call the question" that the RWQCB had its chance to make its current objection(s) earlier. The marshes in Arcata were resisted by the RWQCB there because it was a new system, and the designers had to go to the State Water Quality Control Board to override the regional board. That remedy is also available to Willits. While alternatives have always been written into the environmental documents, economically, the current design is the best choice.
A discussion then arose regarding growth for Brooktrails and Willits and corresponding percentage usage of the sewer plant capacity. Responding to President Orth's question, Mr. Herman said the current design will handle growth for Brooktrails and Willits until 2020, and that capacity can be increased relatively easily. Growth was downplayed in the environmental documents because, he said, it is hard to defend. Wallace Stahle asked what the percentage of growth was; Mr. Herman said he didn't have that data with him, but it is based on the last 20 years, projected forward. President Orth said that for Brooktrails, that would represent about 25 homes a year.
Mr. Herman said that they have 50% of the design completed, and will resubmit to the agencies by October 2006. RWQCB has 60 days to review the application and 60 days to reply. Final design would be March 2007; first phase would be constructed in construction season 2007 and the plant completed in construction season 2008.
Willits plans to add a "sweetener" for RWQCB, by having a constructed wetland done already (ballfields). To demonstrate to RWQCB that this idea is feasible and that the plan will work, they will suggest they create another wetland beginning construction season 2006. Mr. Herman continued that along the wetlands would be hiking trails for recreation.
A question session followed. Mr. Herman responded to President Orth that the design uses much less energy than the present plant, with its 50hp pumps. Director Pohlson felt that a change from seasonal to year-round wetlands was great, but she understood RWQCB's position because a lot of life forms don't mature until they have a dry period. Mr. Stahle asked when the application would be submitted, and how long the build-out would take. Mr. Herman said next month for submission, and a year's period for permitting. Continuing, he confirmed for President Orth that 2008 would be the replacement of the meter.
Robert Melluish asked, if a growth spurt happened in Willits while Brooktrails was under a moratorium, and all the connections were used up, would Brooktrails actually be paying for a lot of this project, but gets no expansion? Mr. Herman said that was a political question. He said that this project lends itself more than other alternatives to future growth, and you could add some variations to increase organic loading. President Orth commented that not too many lots were available for development in Willits. Bob Turner added there was growth in the form of infill and toward subdivisions, but it was not going to happen up here. If the moratorium broke loose, he agreed there could be an influx of growth and Mr. Melluish would be right. Director Pohlson said we are guaranteed 38% of the capacity by contract. She said if Willits outgrew its percentage of the capacity, they would have to add plant capacity. After further discussion, District Counsel Neary was asked to prepare an opinion on the growth/percentage of capacity used/obligation of each party to expand plant issue.
Mr. Herman said elsewhere in California, developers are subject to development fees for water/sewer capacity, remediation, etc. He said Willits is considering these fees and Brooktrails might want to consider this also. President Orth said basically the way we do it was through connection charges. Compliments were exchanged about the work done by Mr. Herman, Brooktrails, Larry Moran and other participants in the project.
Director Pohlson asked what drawbacks Arcata has run into with its system. Mr. Herman said that they discharge into the bay, where there is a fishery, so their water quality requirements are higher than ours and they've run into problems there. To meet the standards, they have to run it through the marshes to improve water quality, then back through the plant, chlorinate it again, and dechlorinate it before putting it in the bay.
Lastly, Mr. Herman said CA Fish & Game really wanted to see this project happen because of the potential to augment creek flow to help the fishery. Outlet Creek is the last wild run of Chinook. Willits Valley is largely uninhabitable because of its seasonal wetlands. Mr. Stahle asked if it were earthquake-survivable. Mr. Herman said the Maacama fault is to the west, although the plant could be subject to shaking, liquefaction, etc.
The directors thanked Mr. Herman, who said he would be happy to make future reports. President Orth suggested this be done when they have a final design approval.
F. PUBLIC HEARING
G. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Wallace Stahle of Rose Terrace said he had been wondering about earthquake safety and our water system. He wondered if there is any mechanism, if the tanks don't collapse, to prevent water from running out of broken pipes and draining the tanks. President Orth said our response would be to tie down the main plant and make gallon containers of water available at certain points within the District to the public. The District also carries earthquake insurance now to rebuild if needed. Mr. Melluish commented that the plant would be tackled first, and then it would take several days to go out and fix the whole system, but he would expect to be back on line within a day or so. Director Pohlson said Mr. Stahle's scenario was probably true, and Mr. Melluish responded that some lines would break and water could be diverted. Mr. Stahle noted that we might be cut off in the event of a severe earthquake. Mr. Melluish said each tank can be shut off with a dial, although this can't be done remotely and a remote system would be very expensive to install. Director Pohlson asked, if a person couldn't get to the distribution area, could they get water from their neighborhood tank, if it had water? Mr. Melluish said that should be monitored. He said a generator can be rented (we do not have our own); President Orth said that might be our next step. Mr. Melluish said they cost about $165,000. Richardson Engineering has three of them and would rent us one. President Orth asked for a future agenda item on emergency preparedness.
H. CONSENT CALENDAR
2. Review of Accounts Payable Report and authorization to issue checks. Director Ziady asked about the T-shirt invoice of $1,272.00. General Manager Chapman said this was done annually. Director Pohlson asked if these were sellable shirts with some recovery. Director Ziady said she did not mind giving T-shirts to volunteers; Director Pohlson then noted we only have 20 fire department volunteers. General Manager Chapman said the Auxiliary was purchasing some of these and were going to reimburse the District. He said he would check on the details. Director Horrick moved to approve the accounts payable conditioned on an explanation of that item; Director Pohlson seconded. President Orth said this means that one check will be held back. Director Pohlson said she really would like an explanation from the Fire Department on what they do with these and why we are purchasing them, and, if we were fronting money for T-shirts that they will sell, she wanted confirmation of money coming back to the District for the cost. She said it was not really an expense we should be handling. President Orth said the check could be held two weeks. Mr. Stahle said he recalled the Fire Department selling T-shirts at the spaghetti feed and he wondered if a delay might negatively affect their fundraising event schedule. Director Horrick suggested that the answer be provided at the Saturday Community Forum meeting on September 17 and added to the agenda for that purpose, and this was agreed. The motion carried unanimously.
I. ACTION AGENDA
5. Request of Mike Aplet for reappointment to the Recreation, Greenbelt & Conservation Committee. Director Pohlson moved to reappoint Mr. Aplet to the Committee; Director Ziady seconded. Both commented they would be very glad to see Mr. Aplet back on the Committee. The motion carried unanimously.
J. ADDITIONS TO FUTURE AGENDAS.
6. Consideration of fourth well/using a water dowser for location. General Manager Chapman said the last time staff had reported on this issue it was suggested to have the fourth well drilled after the services of water dowser. He said he had talked with dowser Doug Brown, and was now asking for direction from the Board. He said he did not know exactly what area Mr. Brown had in mind to explore, and the fee would be about $300.00. President Orth said his concern was the number of dry holes and the lack of production quantity, and that he would go ahead with dowsing for this well, but if it did not pan out, he would like to stop drilling. Director Ziady said she herself had no problem with stopping, but sensed that the community wanted to keep going. Director Horrick said he would like to see something in the budget each year for exploration, and engaging a dowser was fine with him. He felt eventually we might find some water. He felt that the $10,000 rough cost to drill was worth the exploration. Director Pohlson said we have 16 identified sites and have only drilled three, and she agreed that we should pursue, but she would like to combine it with a dowser, and have the dowser check the 16 sites. She said we should find out how many sites could be done for the $300.00.
Mr. Melluish said he believed Weeks was going to drill a well in the vicinity of the airport within the next two weeks, but he did not know for whom. That might give us an idea of what's in that area. He reminded the Board that drilling is the cheap part; placing the well into the system could be serious money. Bob Turner said his group (Realtors) did not believe the public still wanted wells, and no longer believes these were viable, but felt the public wanted us to get on with the lake. President Orth said he could see reason for one more well by the airport area because it is a unique geological formation and local residents know it does dewater significant amounts all around. The question would be if this is true year-round. Director Ziady asked if we could obtain records of well drilling in the area. President Orth said Sherwood Road had lots of wells, but when the drought arrived those people demanded water and joined the system. Director Pohlson voiced concerns about growth and known water capacity, and she began to comment about the costs of exploring a 218 election. President Orth said Prop. 218 was not on the agenda.
General Manager Chapman voiced he was aware of seven wells being dug in the Brooktrails/Spring Creek/Sylvandale area in the last eighteen months, and of these two had water (and we had one of them). President Orth asked Counsel Neary to confirm whether yield data from private property wells was public record or not; Counsel Neary said he did not have this information himself. President Orth suggested we research what level of detail is available as public record. The Board consented that the issue will return at a future meeting.
7. Offer by Jane McCabe to donate memorial bench.
General Manager Chapman described Jane McCabe's offer to donate a memorial bench honoring her late husband, David W. Gregg. The site chosen was described as on the Par Course trail, on a bluff across the creek from the "demo site" area. The bench would be very high quality construction.
District crew would provide a concrete base and installation. Mr. Chapman noted that this bench hopefully would encourage other such donations. Director Pohlson moved to accept the donation and have the bench installed on the Par Course trail; Director Ziady seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
K. SPECIAL REPORTS
Directors: President Orth alerted the audience to the Community Forum Board meeting to be held on Saturday, September 17. Some issues to be covered are the District's evacuation plan and water projects.
District Counsel: Counsel Neary said a case pending before the California State Supreme Court could result in water and sewer rates not being exempt from Prop. 218. He will keep the General Manager informed.
General Manager Chapman: Mr. Chapman said he talked with Pat Frost about the receipt of the Willits audit for June 30, 2004, expected to be received at the end of this month. Regarding the rubber spillway, Jim Hanson of Hanson Engineering had advised that CA Division of Dams may require a boring sample on the top of the reservoir itself. (We did soil samples from the base of the reservoir last year.) Mr. Chapman said he requested that Mr. Hanson arrange a meeting with the State within the next two to three weeks to keep this project moving. Regarding Prop. 218 assessments, Mr. Chapman said he had made contact with two individuals qualified to do this type of specialty work. However, their first question was how much raising Lake Emily 15' will cost Of course, we do not have the numbers yet.
Director Pohlson asked how many SFRs will be served by raising our dam 15 feet. Mr. Chapman replied 2,600 in total. Director Pohlson said we have 4,000 - 5,000 lots out there and this means a portion of these lots would not get served. She said you cannot even think about assessing property when some of them will not get the benefit, and an overall picture of what we're doing is needed before we pursue anything. She said a Prop. 218 (water) assessed the value to every single lot, and asked how will the District decide how many of the 1,100 lots will benefit and get their rates jumped. She continued about the third dam, and said the District then didn't understand the last mitigating thing, which would the removal of two schools.
President Orth said that as a utility agency we are planning about 20 years out. Technologies change, a lot of water conservation technologies will come forward, off-stream storage is now becoming a more modern way to store water. He said the Specific Plan has a way to deal with this. He said there had already been a bond to build the original subdivision, and that we were talking less money now. He said we were not going to be able to complete all of the steps, but we could take the next step, and he qualified that the Specific Plan acknowledges that we cannot fix all of the problems. A 218 bond election involves an engineer assigning a percentage of cost to each lot. He felt Prop. 218 was about this process of ensuring a fairer distribution of costs. General Manager Chapman said he felt we have a realistic knowledge of what areas have a slope of greater than 50% and we could help the engineers with this knowledge. He further suggested we will also be discussing the second access road, and whether the Board should decide to try to combine these projects. He said one engineer commented about having the dredging combined with raising the reservoir, because of the nightmare CEQA/NEPA process. He recalled that Richard Estabrook's water report from last year for the first time gave us a realistic number of how many SFRs could be served. He said a lot of vacant lot owners have real concern about what we're doing, and he felt that what would ultimately get us out of the moratorium was raising the reservoir 15'.
Mr. Chapman confirmed for Claudia Reed of the Willits News that the current connection fees are $6,200.00 for water and $3,567.00 for sewer. President Orth said that those fees will be reviewed as we come up with solutions to the moratorium, and a new cost would be assigned to the hookup charge based on the cost of putting those facilities in place. Ms. Reed said that if 2,600 lots could be served with water, and each paid such a connection fee, then would you would have enough money? Director Pohlson pointed out that of the 2,600 lots, 1,500 are already built. President Orth said the infrastructure cost of raising Lake Emily 15' would be a partial cost, because the connection charges for the 1,100 additional lots would increase their share of cost for the facility. Director Pohlson suggested we should do two million-gallon storage tanks. President Orth requested this discussion be continued at the Community Forum meeting, as this was not an agenda item for tonight.
An audience member asked about dredging versus raising the dam. President Orth said that both projects will probably be done at the same time. General Manager Chapman said that the CEQA process is really significant, and it would make sense to do it for both at the same time, given the parallel costs and logistics. However, he said, he will get out a detailed report on this, because there were pro and con issues. Director Pohlson said she wanted that, as she did not want to rubber-stamp something without full information and public input. Director Ziady voiced there were some problems with planning to have water for 6,000 lots, because regulations change. CA Fish & Game is now making comments about off-stream storage. It is hard to plan beyond a certain capacity because you don't know what you'll be dealing with later. She said she did not believe it possible for this Board to take it all the way.
L. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Director Horrick moved to adjourn and President Orth declared the meeting of
September 13, 2005 closed at 8:47 p.m.
CHARLES A. ORTH
MICHAEL V. CHAPMAN
Secretary to the Board of Directors