Boonville Water Projects Update

We had a very productive meeting on Thursday, Jan 2nd. We have started meeting on the first Thursday of every month at 10:30 AM at the Fire House in order to have an open forum where members of the public can come and engage with us so that we can understand community concerns. Thursday’s meeting was attended by eight community members. We went over questions and discussed concerns for two hours before finishing the public comments portion of the meeting. There were some very interesting questions we are sending on to the engineers or the State Water Board to get better answers. 

We shared that we are continuing with our public outreach by setting up impartial panels to educate us about our health issues as well as the hydrology of our water table and the impact of the municipal wells. Once we establish a new wastewater site farther out of town, we will be setting up a tour to two MBRs (Membrane BioReactors) in the Geyserville area. We are also sending out a newsletter to everyone in all the Anderson Valley zip codes in mid-February.

Our Fire Chief, Andres Avila, explained how storage tanks and hydrants for fire suppression are planned, as well as how sprinkler systems work for new construction. He calculated that, because of the fire suppression provided by the system, folks could see their fire insurance rates cut by as much as 50%.

The yearly data is available now for our community’s median income. With a median income of $41,836, we are at less than 60% of the state’s median average income. While you probably don’t like hearing that you live in a severely disadvantaged community, the good news is that makes us eligible for 100% grant funding for both wastewater and drinking water projects. 

In our last communication with our senior project manager at the State Water Board we were told they are now offering to pay for ALL the laterals – wastewater AND drinking water – for our residential properties. This median income also drives our future rates. Our median income of $41,836 divided by 12 puts our monthly income at $3,486. The state is currently using 1.5% of that as a minimum rate for customers. That means the minimum rate for each project would be $52.30. We are hoping that will be very close to the actual base rate for everyone. There is no provision for differing incomes – we are all treated the same. The actual rate is not set by us, but by a different state agency who takes into account future Operation and Maintenance needs (we have no loans to worry about) and our severely disadvantaged status. The State is aware that providing the infrastructure is only part of the picture and the community has to be able to afford their monthly payments. 

Prop 218 also limits the amount of future rate increases. If, in the future, there is a need to increase the rate beyond the standard cost of living, the increase is subject to an additional vote. (The language of the Prop 218 is on our website and it is very complex. If you have the patience to study it, be sure you look at “fees” and not “taxes” as Prop 218 regulates both, and we are a “fee”). We are still probably 6 -9 months away from having the Rate Study done and the resulting “vote” letter sent out to parcel owners. Again, one parcel = one vote. We will continue to explain the process in the months ahead.

We are aware that regardless of our health issues, housing needs and fire suppression problems, there are some who are opposed to the projects and spread misinformation. We encourage you to educate yourself by continuing to check in with the website (avcsd.org), attend Water Project meetings (first Thursdays at 10:30 at the Fire House), and read material that we send you.

8 Responses to "Boonville Water Projects Update"

  1. Bob Abeles   January 8, 2020 at 11:34 am

    I addressed this comment to the CSD mailing list:

    “there are some who are opposed to the projects and spread misinformation”

    So, anyone with objections to the project or how it is being carried
    out is a spreader of misinformation? That sounds like a line straight
    out of the HBO show Chernobyl.

    Reply
  2. joanburroughs   January 8, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    The “misinformation” stated in this Update is coming from CSD members none of whom it appears took time to undertake research before issuing some blatantly false and misleading statements.

    January 29, 2019 at a Boonville Planner’s meeting Dan Coleman, representing engineering firm Brelje and Race stated “…sewer needs to be compulsory. It’s all or nothing.”

    We now have a water project committee talking about Boonville property owners “voting” for this plan; however, sewer is not mentioned. The state is funding a sewer/water project. What is going on?

    Reply
  3. Joy Andrews   January 8, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    To clarify, the water and wastewater projects are two separate projects. Each parcel owner will get one vote per project and it’s highly unlikely both projects will take place at the same time.

    Reply
  4. Bill Kimberlin   January 8, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    Not having a downtown water system, other than the two hydrants at the Fair Grounds, is what made the recent fires so devastating. Not having a sewer system means that nothing can be rebuilt. Get used to seeing uninsured piles of rubble in town because no permits for rebuilding will be issued with the way things stand.

    Reply
  5. joanburroughs   January 8, 2020 at 6:42 pm

    The devastating fire in downtown Boonville was the result from old structures (Windom home built in the mid-1800s) clustered in the location plus other non-compliant structures built during the 1940s and 1950s. Local Prohibition rules were voted in by Boonville residents in the 1930s; during this timeframe the old saloon in this exact location was torn out and later replaced with another building about ten years later. Having old sub-standard multiple buildings under one expansive roof led to the firefighting problems according to our local Fire Chief. Ample water was available from the fairground’s water tanks; water was also available from another site in the lower part of Boonville.

    I own three parcels in Boonville. AVCSD now states we have only one vote per project so that has changed dramatically. It has always been stated as one vote per parcel. Hopefully, that is a spelling mistake. If true, this voting change is an illegal turn of events.

    Apparently Prop 281 might be reconsidered, the California Supreme Court will more than likely take another look at the measure this year. As it now stands it only takes 50% plus one to vote to approve this water/sewer fee; if it is overturned by the state court it reverts back to a tax with majority vote. The state constitution requires majority approval under Jarvis/Gann (Prop. 13); if the courts affirm the original intent this will impact this local project dramatically. Is this the reason to rush in to get this hugely expensive plan underway in spite of no sewer location?

    I do not understand where the information came from stating no permits for rebuilding or sewer repair/installation will be issued. This needs to be clarified. I am thankful we did not have the sewer/water configuration installed prior to the fire, all the surrounding area laterals, grinders, lines, manhole and fire hydrants would have burned and broken apart due to excessive heat, sewer and water overflows and tank collapse. The asbestos and Benzine spill would have been an unbelievable health threat to firefighters, the entire town, and its waterways. We would have more than likely had a massive sewer spill because it happens with alarming regularity. The state has no liability to restore water or sewer services after disasters; only FEMA will rebuild, repair, and upgrade at user’s expense. Water bills (no sewer) run an average of $120 per month in similar areas. Removing existing sewers and closing off water wells in downtown Boonville to install this forever configuration will be a massive expense. We simply cannot afford this plan and need to explore other less costly avenues that better serve our community. Joan Burroughs

    Reply
  6. Joy Andrews   January 9, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Each parcel gets one vote per project. If a person owns multiple parcels they will vote one time for each of those parcels but the two projects are separate and will have separate prop 218 rate votes sent out. There is a very specific due process required by state law in counting these votes. The rate study will be done by an outside agency.
    As the General Manager of the AVCSD for over nine years I have always been committed to transparency with the Brown Act and consideration of the opinions of our property owners. I gain nothing personally from endorsing the project. I have no desire for more work or pay and if anything intend to provide local jobs to other local resident(s) should either project move forward. It needs to be clear that the meeting regarding the CEQA document was only a “Notice of Preparation” and when the actual document is complete, all the questions proposed will be answered. Some felt we were running a “covert operation” because the first time they heard of the project was when they were notified as an “adjoining parcel.” That was the first time we were required to notify neighboring parcels HOWEVER for over two years prior to that our VOLUNTEER board members have been going up and down the town and talking to home and business owners as well as doing publicity, mailing, and holding public meetings. PLEASE take it upon yourselves to stay informed via our website at http://avcsd.org/watersewer.php and we will be updating in the near future as more current information becomes available. We also welcome you to attend our monthly Water Projects Committee meeting the first Thursday of every month at 10:30am at the Boonville Firehouse. Members of the public are welcome to address the committee for up to three minutes.

    Reply
  7. Bob Abeles   January 9, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    My primary objection to the projects is this method of “voting”. Clearly the projects affect all members of our community, so why not put the systems on the ballot and let the voters decide? One vote per registered voter, the American way. Boonville is a community of people, not just parcels. Let the people decide!

    Reply
  8. Joan Burroughs   January 9, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    We must remember in the final run we are dealing with two corporations. AVCSD, Inc was officially established in 1970 by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. In 1995 the AV Fire Department also registered as a corporation with the State of California: Fire Department. The County of Mendocino gives final approval on board membership, there is no local board membership voting I am aware of.

    The state of California employs a water board consisting of members primarily chosen by politicians — they are paid huge salaries. The Water Board will always promote these projects (7.545 BILLION recently approved by voters). (AVCSD: Hurry…”Get it before it is gone”. ?) The municipal sewer/water plants help support and employ politicians’ family members, friends, neighbors, engineers, and architects, to name a few. They decide what is best for us. Basically, we have no say except through the local vote via deeded parcel but even that is not trustworthy. The local AVCSD board has more than likely spent two million or more on the project so far. The state calls it “Exploratory Funding”. We call it “taxes” that we residents and business owners pay through State Proposition 1.

    All Anderson Valley property owners pay “fees” to AVCSD in the amount of $72.00 per parcel; if Prop 218 is overturned and returned to its original intent then at least the upcoming parcel vote will be more reasonable through a majority rule, and be called a “tax” which it definitely is. Approval now for these projects is 50% plus one; these huge state infrastructures can and will slip in on a community without much effort with low voting percentage advantages. That is why there is pressure from CSD to approve the water measure as soon as possible.

    Renters will definitely be impacted through additional higher water and sewer rates added to what they now pay if this plan goes through. Renter’s Insurance does not include any infrastructure damage to renter’s personal property. Homeowner’s Insurance and Business policies do not cover municipal sewer/water damage; additional insurance plus earthquake insurance will be needed to protect us from frequent sewer/water disasters and ground displacement.

    The service district is now divided into sections, that is why Boonville has separate voting in service areas from the rest of AV.

    Reply

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