ZONE 7 Meeting
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ALAMEDA COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
December 2, 2020
The following were present:
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
ALEXANDRA BRADLEY, COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST
DONNA FABIAN, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
COUNSEL: REBECCA SMITH, DOWNEY BRAND
Item 1 -
Call Meeting to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m.
Item 2 -
Roll call was taken, and all Board members were present.
Item 3 -
Citizens Forum - none
Item 4 -
Update on Development of Flood Master Plan Presentation
Valerie Pryor, General Manager, indicated that this was an informational report on the status of developing a new Flood Management Plan. Ms. Pryor stated that the Board received a presentation from Larsen Wurzel & Associates at the Special Board Meeting in September, and their recommendation was to pursue a new Flood Management Plan. This plan would incorporate existing information and also provide a more contemporary approach focusing on flood protection goals and incorporating climate change into the new strategy. Ms. Pryor introduced Eric Nagy of Larsen Wurzel & Associates, Inc.
Mr. Nagy shared a PowerPoint presentation to help facilitate the briefing. The presentation outlined the development of a new Flood Management Plan, which was agreed upon at the September meeting. This was in lieu of simply pursing an amendment to the existing Stream Management Master Plan (SMMP).
The new Plan must use up-to-date data and consider climate change. The current SMMP is dated around 2006 and the data is approaching 20 years old. Mr. Nagy stated that it was agreed to actively engage potential partner agencies or ones that are current partners.
Mr. Nagy provided an overview of the Flood Management Plan development strategy. He stated that a consultant team would be solicited to execute its development, which would be done in two phases. He stated that it was important for a team not to immediately jump to solutions and project-oriented thinking. Phase 1 should focus on establishing clear agency flood management guidance that would nest within the strategic plan. This would include guiding principles, goals and objectives, and clarity on the current and future definition of the flood system. Mr. Nagy stated that best management practices should be identified for maintenance and improvements to the flood system.
Central to all of this is establishing guidance documents that include a robust outreach program soliciting feedback from the community, from stakeholders and local agency partners. Once those parameters are established, we can begin to think of ways to improve the system, the projects that may be undertaken, the costs associated with those projects, and how those projects could be financed.
Phase 2 would be focused on a capital improvement planning (CIP) exercise. The scope and budget associated with Phase 2 could be heavily driven by the foundation that is established in Phase 1. Mr. Nagy stressed the importance of allowing the consultants to focus on the results of Phase 1 separate from the cost and approach in Phase 2.
In reference to Phase 1, the consultant team should be provided with clear direction in terms of what the Agency is looking for, where the Agency has been and where the Board wants to head. Mr. Nagy presented a list of proposed guiding principles to build directly into the Request for Proposals (RFP) to help the consultant teams understand the foundational values or elements that are expected to be built into the Flood Management Plan.
Mr. Nagy noted the value of the historic body of work, such as the Stream Management Master Plan and the previous 1966 Flood Control Master Plan. These need to be considered as to what can be adopted from those documents and brought into the context of a new Flood Management Plan. Mr. Nagy stressed the importance of open and transparent external and internal communication. Agency staff need to be brought into the direction of the flood management plan, as they are the ones who will be applying these principles on a day-in day-out basis.
While the Plan would be focused on flood management, other water resource objectives and opportunities should not be cast aside. Best management practices should include sustainability of the existing flood system and flood risk communication. Mr. Nagy noted the importance of climate change and understanding how the performance of the system is changing as climate changes, and that, potentially, the expected performance of the system is decreasing as climatic conditions change. He also pointed out the importance of erosion management, as well as working with partner agencies.
Previous efforts in the development of the SMMP set a precedent around strong community and stakeholder engagement. Expectations for consultants wishing to bid on the RFP should be outlined in terms of the stakeholder and community engagement process.
Public workshops would be a necessary aspect of developing the Plan. Mr. Nagy suggested that an advisory committee with key partners, regulators or resource agencies could provide important feedback. Community work groups could also provide a higher level of engagement to make sure that concerns are being addressed.
Measurable objectives should be established to assist in understanding the return on investment on projects or initiatives. On one end of the spectrum, a handful of projects could have a high return on investment but modest in scale. On the other hand, it might be broad rethinking or expansion of the system that would require a much more significant effort in terms of financing and timeline for implementation.
While the Plan is flood focused, other objectives to consider addressing included recreational opportunities, water quality, water supply, reliability, and groundwater recharge. These opportunities could be cost efficiently built into a flood improvement project.
The second phase would deal with the financial planning piece, the cost of the preferred alternative and the timeframe in which it is expected to be implemented. It is critical to have a robust financial plan, and to consider whether the scale of the improvements could be financed with existing revenue streams or require additional revenue sources and/or cost sharing partners.
Phase 2 would have a continued engagement program that would be adaptively managed with the transition from Phase 1 into Phase 2. Mr. Nagy stated that solicitation of a consultant team for the development of the Plan would include both the planning and the outreach components and would seek a cost proposal for the first phase. It would be more realistic to anticipate that a consultant team could bid reasonably accurately on just Phase 1. It also gives the agency an opportunity to reassess the consultant's performance either during or at the end of the first phase.
Technical consultants with expertise in several areas should be separately contracted. Very specific technical qualifications should not be allowed to drive the selection of the consultant team. Up-to-date data and technical analysis should be separately secured and incorporated into the process as required.
It was reasonable to expect that both phases of the planning process would be a year-and-a-half to a two-year long endeavor. From a budgeting perspective, it is estimated that both phases, plus the technical studies, would be in the $1 million to $2.5 million range. Mr. Nagy stated however that it is hard to forecast the schedule and budget.
An RFP could be issued later in the current month, pending Board feedback and support for the general direction of the Plan. While allowing for some holiday time, hopefully a selected consultant team would be presented to the Board in March, with a budget for the first phase and seeking approval to move forward with the actual development of the plan itself.
Director Figuers felt that the presentation was bureaucratic double speak and could not see how this would justify spending between $1 million and $2 million. He stated that Mr. Nagy did not address the updating of the modeling with new data due to climate change. New data was going to show longer periods of drought, not floods. He added that he was absolutely against this foundational body of work.
Mr. Nagy explained that a new foundation through these principles, goals and objectives is important because the current SMMP does not establish a clear primary set of principles around flood management, and does not delineate clearly between the flood management responsibility and other water resource objectives that Zone 7 could choose to invest in. The recommendation is to conduct flood management planning primarily through the lens of flood risk management, and to only contemplate other water resource objectives where it clearly makes sense from an investment point of view.
Director Figuers asked how flood management relates to other water supply issues. He stated that flood management deals with massive amounts of water, and the hope is to pull some of that into the Chain of Lakes, but most water supply is the daily, yearly grind of recharging the groundwater basin.
Mr. Nagy stated that the Chain of Lakes is a perfect example of where synergy could be found between the ability to temporarily store floodwater and use it as an opportunity to conduct groundwater recharge. That is an example of an opportunity to address two objectives through a single project. Mr. Nagy stated that the proposed approach to the Plan would take advantage of such opportunities.
Director Figuers said that that whole Chain of Lakes concept was developed around 1978, and that the Board is always looking at this. He felt that the Agency did not need a one-million-dollar document to confirm what it had been doing for 50 years.
Director Ramirez Holmes asked whether the guiding principles and best practices need to be done in Phase 1. She expressed confusion as she thought objectives were already established and felt that a lot of the work related to Phase 1 had already been done.
Mr. Nagy stated that the guiding principles creates direction for the consultant team to start with and build upon. The guidance document refers to the process and standards a project is expected to meet before it is accepted.
Director Ramirez Holmes inquired about the expected timeline for Phase 1 in comparison to Phase 2. She also asked if Phase 1 is building the structure and the outline, and then applying them to Phase 2.
Mr. Nagy stated that he expects Phase 1 to take longer than Phase 2, because Phase 1 would involve conversations with partner agencies and within the agency itself around different perspectives on what the flood management plan is and articulating those policies or practices. The hardest part about Phase 2 becomes the financing.
Director Ramirez Holmes said that we need to be very clear that our maintenance and management of flood control continues as we look to the future, with perhaps a different or improved way of doing so.
Director Ramirez Holmes felt that Phase 1 was more related to outreach to groups about how to get involved in the process, and the second phase is the actual plan. The proposed approach sounded like Phase 1 encompasses both of those things. She stated that the RFP should address those two aspects, the process, and how the plan ultimately gets developed.
Director Ramirez Holmes said that a proactive approach to community engagement should be set out clearly in the RFP in terms of groups and timeline, particularly with using existing groups that would not have to be recreated. She also noted that existing liaison committees with the Board and each of the cities should be utilized.
President Sanwong agreed that there is a need to be proactive in Phase 1 about how the Agency works with these different organizations. She suggested that a schedule be considered to make the process clearer. Perhaps the Board meeting structure can be used; the first Wednesday of the month would be focused on the flood management plan, so the Regular Board Meetings held on the third Wednesday of each month could be reserved for all other business activities.
Director Gambs asked Mr. Nagy to confirm whether the RFP would have more detailed information in the form of exhibits and documents. Mr. Nagy confirmed that the RFP would be more detailed and specific, and stated that a fair amount of work is readily available online for proposers to consider as they develop a proposal.
Director Gambs suggested that the process should build in flexibility so that if some costs do not look right from Phase 1 there would be time to reevaluate them. In terms of the project priority, financing might go with a particular project, which would be dictated separately as opposed to being financed at one source.
Director Gambs stated that the effort needed to get regulatory buy-in should not be underestimated. Sedimentation problems are an important part of watershed erosion and erosion management, so he noted that there are some big costs and regulatory hurdles in sediment removal. He reiterated the importance of stakeholder engagement, especially residents and businesses that are directly affected by flood control channels. He also asked what kind of firm might bid on the RFP.
Mr. Nagy stated that that the RFP will be attractive to a broad range of consultants, especially firms strongly rooted in environmental resource planning.
Mr. Nagy asked Director Gambs to clarify his question around finance planning in terms of the cost implications of certain management practices or policy decisions. Director Gambs stated that the cost might affect how it is prioritized and scheduled, which may then cause an objective to be tweaked. Director Gambs felt there should be some flexibility in the finance planning. Mr. Nagy agreed and stated that is something that needs to be better articulated as a consideration for Phase 1.
President Sanwong asked if there are any examples of this type of process completed at other agencies. Director Figuers also asked if Mr. Nagy was aware of any modern, good management plans that could be reviewed to get an idea of what a product might look like. Mr. Nagy stated that he did not have an example that comes to mind, but he would follow up and share some examples with Ms. Pryor to be distributed.
Director Palmer asked whether it might be a good idea to get stakeholder input early on in terms of talking to people about their concerns and priorities. This may help with collaboration down the road and would help with greater transparency and cooperation. Director Smith McDonald agreed that early stakeholder buy-in would help down the line.
Director Smith McDonald stated that she has been part of a guiding documents creation process over the last six months at her place of employment, and closely evaluating the principles, goals, and objectives. She found that it was a valuable exercise in creating a plan. She also stated that she was disappointed that the document would be dismissed as bureaucratic doublespeak, as it would be the foundational principle in which the plan is built and used to engage with people.
Director Figuers agreed but stated that the difference is that Director Smith McDonald and others are part of creating that document, but an outside consultant is being asked to create this plan.
Director Figuers asked how a flood and a bank erosion is defined. That definition needs to be nailed down both for our own purposes as well as legal liability.
Director Smith McDonald stated that the Agency is putting out an RFP for people with experience to do the work. They would assist with putting the Agency's principles and objectives into a document.
Director Green stated that this is a broad document, and that more in-depth detail is needed to appreciate the amount of money being spent. She agreed with Director Ramirez Holmes about outreach and making sure that the process is clear and understood. Director Green stated that with regard to finance, an iterative process from Phase 1 to Phase 2 is needed and she hoped that more detail would be provided.
Director Palmer felt that many of the items listed are things that staff can do. However, she expressed concerns about the Agency being understaffed and staff may not have the time or energy. She added that staff should be utilized as much as possible without overburdening them.
Ms. Pryor stated that a steering committee was established with staff from all aspects of the Agency. The committee has had a few meetings to update everybody on the process. Ms. Pryor stated that Staff will be involved, but that the flood management plan is a very significant undertaking. There is not one person at Zone 7 that could work on this full-time. She said that it is likely that proposers would watch this Board Meeting, as well as other Board Meetings, and incorporate that into the proposal.
President Sanwong asked if the Board would review what is received back from those firms and debate the merits of the proposals. Ms. Pryor stated that it would depend on the results of the RFP process. Typically, Staff makes a recommendation to the Board on the selected firm. If there is a clear, obvious frontrunner there would be a staff recommendation. If there are two or three, then staff might consider interaction with the Board.
Director Green asked Director Smith McDonald why she was comfortable with this plan, since it is very broad. Director Smith McDonald stated that plans with the County related to her professional work are very detailed, which is why they keep having new versions. Director Smith McDonald stated that she is not advocating for a broad plan but encouraging a plan that can be used as a guiding document as to how the Agency moves forward as a reference point.
Director Ramirez Holmes hoped that the RFP builds upon the work that the Board has already done, and that it will be more detailed.
Linda Kelly, a resident of Pleasanton, commented on climate change as raised by Director Figuers. Ms. Kelly stated that we are headed into drought again and suggested that the dry season can be used to complete projects that were postponed because of the rainy season. Ms. Kelly also stated that the City of Pleasanton is embarking on its climate action plan. Meetings are planned imminently, and those things are all going to work into what Zone 7 does. She felt that it will be crucial to have Zone 7's liaisons included in whatever takes place there.
Ms. Kelly further noted that as the election had just finished all of the cities within Zone 7's jurisdiction have new council members. It would be important to include those new voices in the planning.
President Sanwong stated that as the Agency that is focused on planning for droughts and floods in the Tri-Valley, it is important for these cities and partner agencies to reach out to Zone 7.
Director Palmer urged partner agencies in the Valley to contact Zone 7 and emphasized the importance in working together to collaborate on topics that affect everyone who live here.
Olivia Sanwong suggested a liaison committee meeting with everyone in the first quarter of 2021, with the agenda items to include climate action plans and flood planning.
Director Green noted that Ms. Kelly is now a member of the Energy and Environment Committee in Pleasanton and believed that they do have some meetings coming up. Director Green stated that she has been invited to go to one of the meetings, that there will be some discussions about water, and that Zone 7 will be talked about along the way.
Item 5 -
Verbal Reports - none
Item 6 -
President Sanwong adjourned the meeting at 7:43 p.m.