Because our Water Matters
Trailer for our upcoming video series covering the campaign issues for the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District Director's Race
I proposed an Ad Hoc Policy Committee for the Board which was approved. The District is lacking and needs updating, creating and organizing of a lot of its policies. Things like Water Transfers, Requests For Proposals, Personnel, Capital Assets, to name a few. The policy and ordinance list continues to be inventoried. In the works currently is the Irrigation Ordinance which is with the Irrigation Committee and the Personnel Policy which is with the labor representatives.
Fire Mitigation Matters
Recently, we have been under constant threat or experiencing wildfires in our District, from the King Fire to Country Fire, Bridge Fire, Caldor Fire, and now Mosquito Fire. The critical water infrastructure and policies the District sets are vital to protecting our community. At the emergency meeting of Sept 6th, The Board amended the Water Shortage Response Actions to allow for a full irrigation season for fire mitigation. That same night the Mosquito Fire broke out and within two days many of us were evacuated.
Firefighters must use not only water from hydrants and the treated water system but also water from our canals, ditches, reservoirs, and many ponds fed by our irrigation system to be able to maintain a supply of treated water and to keep up with the demand of water usage during a wildfire. Fire mitigation is a challenge especially when the State mandates water conservation. This is where policy matters and the ability to react, adapt, and implement changes to our Urban Water Management Plan and Emergency Response Plan to allow for fire mitigation and abilities to maintain water flow during a fire emergency.
We have proposed projects in the Capital Improvement Plan such as a three million gallon capacity water tank to allow for extra water storage. I will continue to look for and work on grants to support the Districts ability to obtain critical water infrastructure for fire mitigation and redundancies to protect our single source of water.
I have also attended meetings and workgroups with local, State, and Federal government and agencies. We must continue to work with these agencies and collaborate with our Conservation Districts and Fire Councils to help with fuel reduction projects, such as the fuels surrounding Walton Treatment Plant.
I will continue to work with the Staff, the Board, our committees, and government agencies to make sure the District has what it needs to maintain and obtain critical water infrastructure and I will continue to promote education for our community and emergency planning and fire mitigation throughout our policies.
Fiscal responsibility is very important to me. We must be able to maintain and provide sustainable infrastructure for the District at the same time making sure not to overburden the rate payers. The rates have been frozen without the 5% increase for Treated Water and the 10% increase for Irrigation Water. Annual percentage increases should not be greater than cost of living increases the ratepayers realize in their paychecks. The District has maintained a budget surplus of over $1 million dollars each year and has been financially stable, building our Capital Improvement Projects, obtaining grants to offset costs, and receiving State loans at low interest rates to pay for these projects long term.
Budget Surplus (taken from the end of year audits)
FY 18-19: $1,186,764
FY 19-20: $1,323,006
FY 20-21: $1,501,708
There is a study underway that is looking at the ALT Zone Wastewater Permit. When concluded, the study will give information on the number of Accessory Dwelling Units that can be safely added to the system and also check the status of the requirement for the non-CDS customers.
The next key step in the District’s financial stability is to categorize all of the District funds to be able to determine the amount and levels of accessibility for investment opportunities. We need to get an investment policy and begin the District’s investment portfolio to increase returns and help offset unfunded liability.
Information, Communication, Education has always been what I have provided.
I have spent my four years on the Board attending, participating and being a member of various workgroups that will provide the upcoming standards for water agencies. I have advocated for our rural community. I have done my best to keep these standards from being “cookie cutter “ approaches. The variances that I continue to fight for are horses, livestock; evaporative coolers; fire mitigation.
I have held numerous Town Halls throughout the District and have promoted workshops and town halls by the District for the community. We brought back the Finance Committee and have started another volunteer community committee, the Irrigation Committee. The financial portal for the community, Socrata, will be available to all by October. The Watersmart portal provides another layer of direct access for the customer.
There is still work to be done. We need more customers on the email subscription. We need to continue to improve our website and Facebook pages. The District has done a good job with public outreach - adding the bi-monthly newsletter to the billing, providing articles and updates through the local newspapers, and working with the community for workshops and events. We continue to work with the community for annual events such as the Fishing Derby, and join the community to celebrate Fourth of July and Founder’s Day. Speaking of which, I look forward to seeing some of you at the rescheduled Founder’s Day Event.