I had an afternoon meeting that ran very late, so I did not arrive at the Soquel Creek Water District Board meeting until a bit after 7 p.m. The consultant from Raftelis was in the middle of the proposed rate increase re-structuring presentation (Item 6.2)
The Board was not in favor of accepting the Customer-Select models that the consultant recommended. They favor a two-tier rate system until the District installs Smart Meters that would, they feel, enable customers to have better control over water use. Basically, they just shelved all this expensive work.
During public comment, I asked for clarification that the rate increase structuring is occurring in order to fund PureWater Soquel Project. After a bit of hesitation, Leslie Strohm said yes, and Bruce Daniels added that the District is also considering stormwater capture and desal. I asked if the cost of buying water from DeepWater Desal is factored into the proposed rate increase. Ron Duncan then interjected that there would be no dialogue allowed during public comment.
I then reminded the Board that their own documentation states that the PureWater Soquel Project would raise annually operational costs by $2.5 Million in 2023–2024, and already in 2018–2019 Budget, the cost of groundwater management is over $5 Million. I reminded them that they still insist they have not chosen a supplemental supply project. “I will be so happy to see the District finally accepting the water from Santa Cruz this November” I stated. The Board did not respond.
I also asked for a definition of “Emergency Water Rates” and what criteria would be used to initiate those rates. Tom LaHue spoke up and said I could find the answer in the Community Water Plan. “Can’t you just explain it now?” I asked. He became irritated because I had used up my three minutes already, and again directed me to the Community Water Plan and staff.
The Board approved acceptance of the Raftelis Report and moved on to a discussion about their leak adjustment policy.
Monica came to speak with me then, so I left the meeting to go outside and talk. She is doing some great work out in Capitola neighborhoods and is talking about Gary’s candidacy and values. We need to get those trifold brochures to her!
Afterward, I asked Rachel Lather about participating in a candidate forum with the three other candidates. She is agreeable and prefers a Sunday afternoon. Bruce Jaffee had already left the room, and Carla Christensen was absent.
I will contact Bruce and Carla to ask about their availability and willingness to be in a forum.
Thanks so much,