Seventy-five year old Alan Glink's request for an unusual waiver from the customary $225 deposit required of new customers dominated the opening of the Carpinteria Valley Water District (CVWD) Board of Directors public meeting on Jan. 23. After unsuccessfully petitioning district staff, the long-time Carpinteria resident appealed his denial and presented his case to the full board. Despite a record of multiple late payments, Glink appealed to District staff to establish an alternative process to evaluate financial fitness. Director Korey Capozza requested an explanation of the development of the deposit requirement. CVWD Assistant General Manager Norma Rosales recalled the program's beginnings, when “deposit rates were $10, then $50, and now twice the average monthly bill” and described the evolution of enforcement practices, which include placing liens on residential properties. The board voted 5-0 to deny the petitioner's request. No members of the public appeared to speak during the open comments section of the board meeting.
District staff reported on developments in the solar energy installation underway throughout the CVWD. Although detailed cost estimates were unavailable, Director Case Van Wingerden raised the numerous benefits of battery storage technology, recent advances that allow for long-lasting solar batteries capable of 2,000 production cycles, roughly 3,000 days, before requiring replacement. Vice President Matthew Roberts strongly agreed, characterizing the system as one with “greater sustainability, a smaller carbon footprint,” which “doesn't end up costing our ratepayers anything.”
Officials then turned to the status of the advanced metering infrastructure work being undertaken by the district. Though considerably more complex than the installation of solar panels, the replacement of older meter models and updates of complex software is nevertheless proceeding apace. District staff estimated that 100 of roughly 4,500 meters in Carpinteria are misreporting usage levels, at an average rate of 9 percent, but expressed confidence that all units will be operating at full accuracy within two months. Director Shirley Johnson urged staffers to note the discrepancy in state reporting, so as to ensure Carpinteria's compliance with the mandated 20 percent water use reduction.
Local hydrogeologist Michael S. Burke, representing Pueblo Water Services, presented a fact-filled annual report on district compliance with Assembly Bill 3030, provisions for local groundwater management. The 1999 legislation provides a mechanism for analysis of such key hydrogeologic data as trends in water levels, quality, the regional hydrologic budget and evapotransportation (the natural process famously characterized by President Trump as the “massive amount of readily available water... being diverted in the Pacific Ocean”). Analysts focused on a network of public and private wells throughout the Carpinteria region, taking biannual samples in spring and fall. As Burke noted, water level data is “extremely important, it's how things manifest the groundwater world.” The hydrogeologist gave an expansive description of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), an ambitious project to systematize well quality monitoring, and reported that “water quality has remained stable, with no significant trends.”
Board President Polly Holcombe, noting “We were never out of the drought, the governor might have said we were out of the drought but we never were,” noted the effect of 2017's above-average rainfall, which has led to water level recovery at most area wells. Board members and Burke were pleased as well with the impact of last weekend's storm, which dumped upwards of 9 inches in the Santa Ynez watershed, the equivalent of about 10,000 acre-feet worth of water and a boon for local agriculture.
Board members also passed Resolution #1049, recognizing long-time district employee Alonzo Orozco. Beginning in February 2010, Orozco served as District Director for the CVWD, proving to be instrumental in the adoption of advanced metering technologies, water theft prevention measures and storage capacity improvements. In a fitting moment of levity, Roberts said “now I haven't signed this yet, as we're not sure it's going to pass,” a comment met with audible laughter and appreciation from the Board. The commendation, recognizing Orozco for his “exemplary dedication to the interests of the district and its many customers,” was approved unanimously.