Zone 7 Meeting - September 2, 2020
ZONE 7 Meeting
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ALAMEDA COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
September 2, 2020
The following were present via teleconference:
DIRECTORS: SANDY FIGUERS
ANGELA RAMIREZ HOLMES
MICHELLE SMITH MCDONALD
DIRECTORS ABSENT: NONE
ZONE 7 STAFF: VALERIE PRYOR, GENERAL MANAGER
OSBORN SOLITEI, TREASURER/ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER, FINANCE
COLTER ANDERSEN, PRODUCTION MANAGER
JARNAIL CHAHAL, ENGINEERING MANAGER
CAROL MAHONEY, INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES MANAGER
JOE SETO, PRINCIPAL ENGINEER
JEFF TANG, ASSOCIATE ENGINEER
COLLEEN WINEY, ASSOCIATE GEOLOGIST
ELKE RANK, ASSOCIATE PLANNER
JAVIA GREEN, FINANCIAL ANALYST
ALEXANDRA BRADLEY, COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST
DONNA FABIAN, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
COUNSEL: DAVID ALADJEM, DOWNEY BRAND
Item 1 -
The meeting was called to order at 6:01 p.m.
Item 2 -
All Directors were present with Director Green arriving at 6:03 p.m.
Item 3 -
Citizens Forum -none
Item 4 -
Ms. Pryor stated that Strategic Plan Initiative Number 10 was to update the flood protection strategy, and that a high level consultant review of the flood control system was requested.
Eric Nagy, Consultant and Principal with Larsen Wurzel & Associates, presented a summary of the review of the current flood policy and the flood system. Mr. Nagy stated that Zone 7 historically has been governed by the 1966 Master Plan, which remains incomplete. In the early 2000s Zone 7 Water Agency made a significant investment of resources into the development of the Stream Management Master Plan (SMMP), which serves as the current governing policy for flood risk management. Mr. Nagy stated that the flood system is at the end of its normal service life, and that it is reasonable to expect that a recapitalization of the system would be required in the near term. Some of the competing demands and multiple objectives in California are water quality, water supply, ability to provide varieties of habitat, and other non-water resource objectives like recreation. There is a need to prioritize water resource objectives through establishing goals and objectives that more clearly aligned with the current strategic plan. Mr. Nagy stated that long lead time for environmental permitting is also becoming more challenging and expensive. He further noted that design standards have changed as a result of events such as hurricanes and flooding. He also pointed out that the current Stream Management Master Plan (SMMP) is based on dated data and techniques and does not consider climate change.
Mr. Nagy presented recommendations for the Board to consider. Firstly, the immediate pursuit of a new flood system management plan, using current data and analytical techniques and considering climate change. Expanding the collaboration with partner agencies and engagement with the community regarding flood risk is also recommended. A further recommendation is the development of a procurement process in relation to scope, preferred schedule and an estimated budget for a new flood system management plan.
Director Figuers agreed that the current plan has no prioritization of goals and that there is a need to expand partnering. However, he disagreed with Mr. Nagy's statement on climate change, as he felt that the damage Mr. Nagy referred to has nothing to do with climate change, but rather the problem is the aging of the soils. Also, the system is bound, and there is not much area to expand things. Director Figuers gave examples of bad soils on the west side of the valley, and the damage caused by hiking trails on the east side of the valley.
Director Ramirez Holmes agreed with the concern over long lead times for environmental permitting, but stated that even more important was education for the public about what we are permitted to do to fix things. Director Ramirez Holmes said she liked the idea of pursuing a new plan. She sought clarity from Mr. Nagy on whether the current data and analytical techniques is a composite of all new flow gauges. Mr. Nagy replied that that would be included, but that current hydrologic and hydraulic analysis techniques and tools would also be used. Director Ramirez Holmes also asked for clarity on whether Mr. Nagy was referring to cities when he spoke of partner engagement. Mr. Nagy stated that the focus was on cities or areas of the unincorporated County where there's a land use authority that has an impact on the Agency.
Director Ramirez Holmes asked whether it was the intent of the Board to get feedback regarding the recommendations in terms of process and next steps. Ms. Pryor stated that if there is general consensus from the Board to move forward, the staff and the consulting team will come back to the Board with a more specific approach regarding scope of work and preferred schedule, estimated budget and the suggested procurement process. Director Ramirez Holmes asked whether it is correct that the goal was for the Board to comment on the recommendations and whether the Board is in agreement or not in terms of a new plan or an amendment. Ms. Pryor replied that this is correct, but added that as staff and the consultant team would develop a more specific approach, which is anticipated to take close to two years, there will be more opportunities for Board and community input.
Director Palmer stated that Agency efforts would be futile if it had no say in land use practices and zoning. She asked what options we have on this, if any, to get some kind of zoning determination that Zone 7 has input on. Director Ramirez Holmes asked Mr. Nagy whether that question falls within the collaboration piece. Mr. Nagy replied that it does, and further pointed out that Zone 7 performs a service that is greatly helpful to the cities and County, so it would be important to find a balance between helping them and them helping Zone 7. Director Palmer stated that the cooperation aspect would be difficult without Zone 7 having 'any real teeth'.
Director Gambs stated that in terms of the presentation he couldn't understand the difference between rehabilitation and a capital project. A distinction needs to be made, and we need to explain what the difference is and why we need it. Director Gambs also stated that if the impact of global warming is not quantified, it would be difficult to incorporate it directly into the plan. In terms of the procurement process for consultant selection, Director Gambs suggested bringing in some of the major stakeholders to help select the consultant in order to foster credibility with the public. President Sanwong stated that in terms of selecting a consultant, it also depends on who is funding the entire process.
Director Figuers said that Mr. Nagy did a very good job of laying out all limitations and problems with the system. He asked if there was anything that the current SMMP has missed that was never considered. Mr. Nagy said that the SMMP outlined a portfolio of projects that had a very significant price tag, but it didn't really go into how it would be implemented, the finance planning piece, and how or where that money would come from. Director Figuers stated that the whole Zone 7 system was paid for by bonds with the voters' approval, but voter fatigue set in after about 15 years and the last three bonds were voted down. That's why it was never done.
Director Smith McDonald asked what the pros and cons were of developing a new plan versus amending the existing plan. Mr. Nagy stated that there is a need to start from the ground up with the Strategic Plan adopted by the Board, and the goals and objectives specific to the Agency's flood risk management mission, and then build from that as its foundation. He pointed out that there's a lot of good information in the SMMP that could be recycled and considered for inclusion in the new plan.
Director Green asked Mr. Nagy what mechanisms he has seen to develop a prioritization of the objectives. Mr. Nagy said that this depended on the value proposition and the Agency's measurement of its progress towards a goal based on its investment; the portion of that investment that actually went towards reducing flood risk, for example, and what portion went towards other objectives. Director Green asked whether the Agency would provide most of the financing, and not necessarily expect partner agencies to contribute significantly. Mr. Nagy said that wherever the financing is coming from, it has rules and requirements associated with it. The key point is progress towards the Agency's goals.
President Sanwong asked if there were other agencies similar to Zone 7 that have gone through this process recently. She suggested that the Agency may be able to reach out to regional partners to learn more about their project planning. Mr. Nagy gave an example of the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency and their engagement with Stockton East Water District to find win-win solutions. Mr. Nagy said there should be some opportunities like that between Zone 7 and the cities and the County. President Sanwong gave another example of regional parks where there is grant money available for Urban Creek Management Projects; that there might be some opportunity there, for example. Mr. Nagy gave a further example of joint development of restoration projects that multiple agencies could leverage towards their mitigation requirements.
President Sanwong welcomed comments from the public.
Tim Hunt, a Foothill Road resident on the Arroyo de la Laguna reach, stated that he and 20 other neighbors are the neck of the funnel for the entire watershed. The 1966 Plan had a plan for mitigation, but nothing has happened with the exception that the Agency spent over $6 million protecting the homes of two of his neighbors downstream near the Verona Bridge. He said there were 21 residents seeking long term solutions to the situation in this plan. The plan needs to consider how to deal with the neck of the funnel, as this has not been dealt with for 60 years.
President Sanwong stated that in general she is in favor of moving forward with the recommendations presented, keeping in mind all the questions and comments from the Board, as well as from Tim Hunt.
Director Ramirez Holmes stated, in answer to Tim Hunt's question, that the Agency is looking at all of the channels in the Zone 7 area, and nothing is excluded. She requested that the General Manager and Mr. Nagy confirm this. Ms. Pryor confirmed this, and stated that the envisioned process will include the entire Zone 7 service area. Nothing is specifically listed yet and nothing is excluded.
Director Ramirez Holmes stated that she is in favor of the recommendations.
Director Figuers stated that ultimate costs should be part of the discussion, how the money would be raised, and whether there is any appetite within the citizenry to do bonds for those costs. He pointed out that people usually do bonds if they see a benefit to them. Flooding damages the water infrastructure itself but not the people themselves, so there's a disconnect there. He stated that therefore that should be an important feature put into the study.
Director Palmer stated that there were some good things in the SMMP, and hoped that the Agency will at least glean what it can that is good out of it, as opposed to disregarding any of the positive aspects of it.
Director Gambs agreed with the importance of the financing, but felt that before deciding how to finance a decision needs to be made on what needs to be financed. Director Gambs said that partnering with the city, grants and voter approval can't be determined without a discussion on what the projects should be.
Director Smith McDonald agreed with Director Gambs. She stated that what the plan ultimately looks like and costs is still part of the discussions moving forward, but that she is supportive of pursuing a new plan.
Director Green stated that while cost estimates should be continuously considered, she wouldn't wait too long to try and understand that particular part of the project. She also felt that if the problem with the previous plan seemed to be a lack of prioritization, then that's another reason for a new plan. She is supportive of doing a new plan.
Ms. Pryor thanked the Board for their input, and stated that staff and the consultant team will work on developing the approach for the new flood plan, and will try to come back to the Board in the next two to three months.
Item 5 -
Item 6 -
The meeting was adjourned at 7:22 p.m.