On The Calendar
November 20 – A Taste of the Holidays
December 4 – Foster Family Dinner
December 4 – RISE EVENT – Arcata Chamber Mixer at Coast Central – 5:30
December 11, 12, & 13 – Arcata Invitational Basketball Tournament (AIBT)
President Barbara thanked the Sunrisers involved in the previous weekend’s mini-SWOT project, helping to prepare Marylee Bytheriver’s garden for winter. Karen Burgesser was one of the participants, and she said that the work crew was great, and that the weather was cooperative.
Among the new batch of “Sunrise Selfies” that made their debuts last Friday was a pair of photos of Matt Babich, holding Daisy, the golden retriever that he purchased at our Spring Fundraiser. The before-and-after shots showed two things – how much Daisy has grown in half a year, and how much Matt enjoys dressing as a pirate.
Rebecca Crow’s birthday was October 23rd. She celebrated by organizing and running the RCAS Cross Country Championships! (Oh, you are so envious!) “It was a very exciting day,” she told us. There were some last minute issues, including a change of venue. It was “pretty hectic”, so she was pretty tired by the time she got home. Rebecca’s husband Abe brought sushi home for dinner, and the family watched “Survivor” together, for a mellow end to a very busy birthday.
All About the Water
Our Featured Speaker was Carol Rische, the General Manager of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. Carol is a Registered Professional Engineer who joined the HBMWD in 1996, and she has served as General Manager since March, 2000. Carol is also a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Eureka.
Carol began by discussing the effects of the current drought on our area. She showed a slide that represented how severe the drought is across the state. About 75% of Humboldt County is in “severe” status. (The two stages that are worse are “extreme” and “exceptional”.)
The HBMWD owns and operates Ruth Lake, which provides water to its customers – Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville CSD, Fieldbrook CSD, Blue Lake, Manila CSD, and Humboldt CSD. Carol said that in January of this year, the lake was “quite a bit lower than normal, and we were beginning to get calls”. But Carol’s experience has shown her that it only takes a couple of storms to fill the reservoir. “It’s a very narrow watershed,” she noted. As of March 6th, the lake was full after a total of 21 inches of rain had fallen. That amount was less than we received during the drought of 1976-1977, and it is about 30% of the normal rainfall for a season.
Carol said that her district was encouraging conservation, given the extreme drought conditions, but they were also reassuring the public that their water supply was more than adequate. HBMWD had a supply for municipal demands that would last well over a year.
She told us that this summer, the State Water Resources Control Board imposed an emergency order requiring water conservation. The regulations prohibit outdoor water waste and require water agencies to provide monthly water use reports. The order also allowed those agencies to adopt and enforce conservation measures.
Carol praised the municipalities served by her agency for responding to the new reality. They worked together to provide a unified message to their consumers using several avenues, which included a radio campaign which promoted wise water use, an information booth at the Humboldt County Fair, a postcard mailing, and participating in other informational events. They also coordinated their efforts in creating conservation projects.
Carol then turned her focus to the issues presented by the aging water delivery infrastructure. “Infrastructure is not very fun,” she noted, “it’s often out of sight, it’s not very sexy, and yet it is critical in businesses like the water and wastewater industry.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers has a website (www.infrastructurereportcard.org) on which it grades various aspects of the nation’s infrastructure. In 2009, they gave the country a D- for the supporting systems that provide its drinking water. Most of the infrastructure is 40 to 50 years old, and it is not aging well.
Carol said that she would rate the local infrastructure much higher, even though most of the system was built about 55 years ago. She said that it was built well in the first place, but maintenance is needed. She compared this maintenance to the need for a new roof on a house. It’s a big expense, but it is necessary.
HBMWD’s Capital Improvement Plan was adopted in 2011, and it directly addresses the needs of the next 20 years, although it also considers the changes that may be needed 20 to 40 years beyond that time frame. The plan required a detailed asset inventory that included assessments of the condition of the key components of the system. The CIP considers the remaining useful life of each asset, systems redundancy, and the importance of each to the overall system.
Carol provides several examples of capital improvements that have been completed or are in process. One of these was replacing the hydraulic line that operates the slide gate at Ruth Lake. If the slide gate fails, the effect would be very serious. “You either drain Ruth Lake when you don’t want it drained,” Carol said, “or you can’t get water out when you want water out.”
Another major project is maintaining the collectors that can be seen in the bed of the Mad River in the area near Highway 299 and West End Road. The visible portions of the structures are only part of the collectors – the underground parts include perforated lateral pipes that gather water from considerable distances.
These systems were constructed in 1961, and inspections using remote cameras showed that many of the laterals had become corroded, and some had begun to fail. Since the collector structures are in good shape, HBMWD set up a 20-year program to replace the stainless steel laterals, the electrical equipments, and the pumps.
Other projects include replacing the water line to serve Blue Lake and the Fieldbrook Community Services District, replacing a portion of the water line on the Samoa Peninsula, and building providing new interconnections between local municipalities to provide better water supply reliability.
Most of the funding for the Capital Improvement Program has come from grants, and rate increases are on the table, even though our area’s water rates are already higher than surrounding areas. The agency is looking into ways to sell surplus water to other areas to provide additional revenue.
For more information, visit the HBMWD website.