MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ALAMEDA COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
May 5, 2021
The following were present:
DIRECTORS: DENNIS GAMBS
ANGELA RAMIREZ HOLMES
MICHELLE SMITH MCDONALD
DIRECTORS ABSENT: SANDY FIGUERS
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
AMPARO FLORES, INTEGRATED PLANNING MANAGER
ANGELA O'BRIEN, ASSOCIATE CIVIL ENGINEER
TOM ROOZE, ASSOCIATE HYDROGEOLOGIST
BRANDON WOODS, ASSOCIATE CIVIL ENGINEER
LIRA WALTER, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
COUNSEL: SCOTT SHAPIRO, DOWNEY BRAND
Item 1 - Closed Session
The Board went into Closed Session at 6:03 p.m. and came out of Closed Session at 7:09 p.m. There were no reportable actions.
2. Open Session and Report Out of Closed Session
Item 3 -
3. Call Meeting to Order
In the absence of President Sanwong, Vice President Ramirez Holmes called the meeting to order at 7:15 p.m.
Item 4 -
4. Public Comment
There was no public comment.
Item 5 -
Director Palmer made a motion to approve the Special Board Meeting Minutes of April 1, 2021, and Director Gambs seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by a roll call vote of 4-0-1 with Director Ramirez Holmes abstaining.
Item 6 -
6. Consent Calendar
Director Smith McDonald moved to approve all items on the Consent Calendar and Director Palmer seconded the motion. All Consent Calendar items were approved by a roll call vote of 5-0.
Resolution No. 21-33 Award of Contracts for Construction of DVWTP Post Ozone Project (Item No. 6a)
Resolution No. 21-34 Award of Contracts for Construction of DVWTP Post Ozone Project (Item No. 6a)
Resolution No. 21-35 Amendment to RRA LLP, dba California Shine Co. Service Agreement for Fleet Washing Services (Item No. 6b)
Item 7 -
7. Proposition 68 Grant Progress - Alternative Groundwater Sustainability Plan 2022 Update
Tom Rooze, Associate Hydrogeologist, presented the 2022 update to the alternative groundwater sustainability plan. He explained the stakeholder engagement, groundwater levels update, the new cross sections for the groundwater storage program, and the evaluation of the potential groundwater dependent ecosystem. In 2019, DWR recommended that the existing programs be expanded to cover more of the fringe in the uplands basins. A response was also received from the Nature Conservancy, recommending additional study of groundwater dependent ecosystems or GDE's. Alternatives GSPs are required to be updated every five years, so it is due January 1, 2022. A $500,000 grant has been secured from a Proposition 68 DWR grant to assist with this.
For the stakeholder engagement, consultant EKI, prepared a stakeholder communication engagement plan which identifies the stakeholders and outlines the outreach plans. This living document is on the Zone 7 website and will be updated as needed. Presentations will be given to other agencies, the water resources committee, and the Board later this year.
For the groundwater levels program, there are currently over two hundred wells in the program. To address the DWR recommendation, some program wells will be added in the fringe in the uplands basins, with the new data for those wells, the depth to water and historic low maps will be updated.
The groundwater storage program is proposed to have three cross sections across the entire basin developed, and then to extend the area recharge model to cover the entire basin. For the surface water groundwater interaction program, for the update the goal was to use the latest data to identify other potential GDEs. EKI and their sub-consultant, Stillwater, collected all of the latest data and used our depth water maps to identify potential GDEs. The next step is to develop monitoring recommendations for all the GDEs.
Director Ramirez Holmes asked Mr. Rooze to clarify for anyone not familiar, that this is a required report through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and to provide background on why this has to be done and the reason it is called the alternative as opposed to the GSP. Mr. Rooze answered that the SGMA came out in 2014 and they required that all groundwater basins in California be sustainable by 2022 or 2020 in some cases and they offered two alternatives. If you were already managing the basin sustainably, then you could create what they called an alternative groundwater sustainability plan, which is what we did. For those that haven't they have to prepare a groundwater sustainability plan and there are strict requirements about what is in that groundwater sustainability plan.
Director Palmer asked where was the water quality, the update, and the graphs of expected future salt and nitrate concentrations expected and how is that determined? Mr. Rooze responded that the urban water management plan evaluates what we think the future demands are going to be and then we will take those numbers and assign salt concentrations to everything that goes into the basin and comes out of the basin. We then use those numbers to come up with a prediction for what the future concentrations are going to be. We will probably run two or three different scenarios depending on what we are interested in looking at. Director Palmer further asked if this included recharge and that kind of thing that would possibly change it. Mr. Rooze answered that they would have to come up with numbers that show how much we are going to get from the SBA and assign a concentration to that. Every time we pump, we are removing that salt from the basin. Anything that goes in and out of the basin will be assigned a salt concentration. It is similar to what we do now, but it is just going to be using future demand numbers, rather than actual numbers.
Director Gambs asked if they would estimate, re-estimate or maybe confirm what we think the operational storage is based on historic lows that way for planning purposes, how much storage could be used in the groundwater basin. Mr. Rooze answered that would be one of the outcomes. The information would first be used to update the groundwater model and when we have a better understanding of what the geology is, where the water is flowing, then we can start reevaluating the operational storage.
Director Green stated that land subsidence that is talked a lot about in California, doesn't seem to be talked about much within the Agency and was this the only vehicle that is used to discuss it. She asked was it not a great measure here and could a little background be provided. Mr. Rooze responded that subsidence has been monitored since the early 2000s and around 2004, Kier & Wright surveyed the land surface in and around the Zone 7 wells, go up to the hills and make sure it was stable. What is observed is elastic subsidence, subsidence that happens when the water level in the basin drops but recovers when it comes back up again. We also started using Instar Technology in 2016 which looks at surface elevation over the entire basin not just the wells.
Director Ramirez Holmes asked which stakeholders were mailed letters. Mr. Rooze answered that a list of stakeholders was created which included members of Lawrence Livermore Labs, others that have expressed interest or concern in work that the Groundwater section has done, and the retailers.
Director Green stated that in reading through the report there was a comment, "to examine whether there were similar grain size distribution patterns between wells and each aquifer layer, the lithological data were reclassified as either coarse or fine-grain sediments." It turns out that this wasn't used later, although it was brought into the system or the model for use, if one wanted to. Director Green asked, what was learned through that process. Anona Davis, Vice President and Director of Water Resource at EKI and manager of the Zone 7 project, explained that they took all the geologic data that Zone 7 had in disparate places over time and consolidated it into this single unified three-dimensional framework in the software program that is usable by Zone 7 for various applications in the future. Director Green further asked if the 3D lithological model was a 200 by 200 by 20 feet resolution. Ms. Dutton confirmed that was the resolution used to do the initial cross section development.
Director Green asked if there was enough concentration of data to do a 100 by 100 or a 50 by 50. Ms. Dutton responded that it depends on where you are in the basin. Director Green further asked about generating cross sections further south and would that require a work order. Ms. Dutton responded that the data is in a three-dimensional framework which can be manipulated. Every time Zone 7 gets a new well log or drills a new well, that data gets put into the database and the model continues to improve over time. Director Smith McDonald asked if the modeling and information would work well on the Zone 7 website. Mr. Rooze answered that the model itself would not be on the website but the data is available to anybody that wants it.
Item 8 -
8. 2021 Dry Year Transfer Program
Dr. Amparo Flores explained that the Dry Year Transfer Program acquired about 20,000-acre feet of water from interested sellers, about five to six sellers in the Feather River Watershed, and the negotiated price was $625 per acre foot. Zone 7 would have to also pay $10,000 in administrative fees and $70 to $80 to move the water into our system. Zone 7 may be able to purchase up to 500-acre feet. A portion of the water will also be used towards meeting water quality requirements of the Delta.
Funding for water purchases comes from Fund 100, the water enterprise operations fund. There is currently about $2.2 million available in 21-22 adopted budget for water transfer purchases. About a million of that was set aside for Yuba Accord and $1.2 million for a separate water transfer. We are recommending that you direct the General Manager to negotiate and execute agreements with the sellers for a total purchase cost not exceeding about $312,500 through the program and authorize the General Manager to execute any future term extensions.
Director Smith McDonald asked if all of the work it takes to get a small amount of water was worth the trouble and would it always be a small amount with this option. Dr. Flores responded that most of the legwork had been completed and executing some small agreements allows us to test out this option. The small amount is because it is in proportion to our share of Table A but it also depends on who all is participating. If another agency withdrew, Zone 7's portion could increase.
Director Gambs stated that with voluntary water reductions that have been requested, if all the water is not needed this year, it could be insurance for another dry year. Dr. Flores agreed that the water would not be lost and that it would go into storage for the dry year in 2022 and that there was also the option to back off on some of the groundwater pumping, the Semitropic recovery or Cawelo recovery if it looks like additional supply will not be needed. Those decisions could be made later in the year.
Director Palmer asked if this was related to the type of testing that was done with the River Farms transfers and how does the cost of this compare with the cost of getting some of our banking back from Semitropic. Dr. Flores responded that the River Farms transfers were a deal Zone 7 did on our own. The Dry Year Transfer program is specifically set up to pool the interests of a bunch of buyers to get the best deal. That is the advantage of participating in a block like this, however; there is less control over how much water. Dr. Flores answered that those cost about $400 to $500 when you look at the cost of storing it and recovering it per acre-foot. Director Palmer asked if the cost is above $600 would it be best to say we won't bring as much from the banking. Dr. Flores responded that our operations planning already reflects maxing out our recovery from Semitropic and Cawelo. This is additional water needed. When we recover water from the banks, we are dipping into our own reserves. This is new water coming into our supply.
Director Ramirez Holmes asked if this is just the first contract piece that the Board is being asked to approve as we are estimating the need of 10,000-acre feet of water transfers and are pursuing all three of the items Dr. Flores mentioned. Dr. Flores answered that the Board approved the Mojave Water Agency transfer for about 4,500-acre feet, the Yuba Accord was in the works with an existing agreement for about 1,400-acre feet, we have an additional 500-acre feet and about 3,600-acre feet we're still in the market for. Director Ramirez Holmes further asked if they were just authorizing the general manager up to 500-acre feet even though the estimated share at the moment would only be 370-acre feet at $231,250, in case that number goes up. Dr. Flores answered that they wanted to have the flexibility to increase the amount in case any agencies drop out or a seller comes in with a few thousand more acre feet. Staff is relatively confident that 500-acre feet is probably what the Agency will receive. Director Ramirez Homes asked if the second part of the authorization was for a term extension but not above the amount that will be approved tonight. Dr. Flores responded that the term extension was for in the event that the water could not be delivered this calendar year, we would be allowed to receive it next year.
Director Gambs moved to approve the 2021 Dry Year Transfer Program, and Director Green seconded the motion. The resolution was approved by a roll call vote of 5-0.
Resolution No. 21-36 2021 Dry Year Transfer Program (Item No. 8)
Item 9 -
9. Award of Engineering Services Contract for Chain of Lakes PFAS Treatment Facility Project
Mr. Chahal stated that they were recommending authorization to proceed with the design phase of the project at about $2 million and to pursue any grants or any other funding opportunities. This is in anticipation of the future PFAS regulations.
Ms. O'Brien provided an update on the recent development on PFAS and Chrome-6 MCLs. California currently has notification level, response levels for three PFAS, and they are in the process of developing more advisory level for six other PFAS detected throughout the state. Zone 7 is currently able to deliver water that's below California's response levels. However, based on the trends in other states, MCLs, which range from 10 to 16 nanograms per liter, we anticipate that the future California MCLs will be much lower than the current response levels, and additional treatment beyond blending would be needed at the Chain of Lakes Wellfield.
California's State Water Board has already initiated the rulemaking process for PFOA and PFOS by requesting the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, also known as OEHHA, last October to develop public health goals for PFOA and PFOS. They are in the late stages of internal review and are working on getting them out as soon as possible. Once the draft PHGs are out, they will go through a public review process that would include two public comment periods, one public workshop, and then external scientific peer review, which would take about a year or so. And once the PHGs are finalized, the State Water Board is required to establish a MCL at a level as close to PHG as technically and economically feasible. They are still maintaining a very ambitious schedule to have the draft MCLs for PFOA and PFOS out by fall of next year.
Assuming about 18 months to receive comments and finalize a proposed MCL, it is anticipated that the state would adopt the final MCLs by early 2024. And once the MCLs are adopted, our water systems will be required to collect four initial quarterly samples for compliance determination. As for the other, PFOS is anticipated at the notification and response level for the other six PFAS will come out by the end of this year, and there is currently no timeline available for their MCLs. As for the MCL development on the federal level, EPA's Regulatory Development Process is a lot more complicated than the state's process. The EPA's current advisory level for PFOA and PFOS is 70 nanograms per liter, which is significantly higher than any other states' MCL.
EPA recently had two actions pertaining to the PFAS MCLs. The first one is they publish a proposal for the fifth cycle of the unregulated contaminate monitoring role to improve future monitoring for 29 PFAS. And the second one that was published last March 2nd of this year, the final determination to regulate PFOA and PFOS. This means that EPA now has about 24 months to publish for public comment, draft MCLs for PFOA and PFOS. And following that deadline, EPA has another 18 months to adopt the MCL, and so that put us about three and a half years on now, so what you see here is about late 2024 or early 2025.
The federal MCLs are currently at least a year behind the State's schedule. The anticipated timeline presented here is based on the current best available information and subject to change. Staff will adjust the project schedule as needed, and the board could decide whether to proceed with construction after the draft MCLs come out in fall or next year.
Ms. O'Brien presented charts of the PFAS levels for the Chain of Lakes over the last couple of years as compared to the State response level. Based on the average PFOS level and the capacity of each well, we can estimate the level of PFOS in various combinations or blending these wells. The existing blending at Chain of Lakes Wellfield has only gone down to about 25 nanograms per liter without losing any well capacity. If California adopts the PFOS MCL near the other states, shown in the charts, we will not be able to operate these wells since blending alone will not be sufficient.
As for the Chromiums, hexavalent Chromium or Chrome-6 here. The MCL for Chrome-6 is also anticipated over the next couple of years. Currently, it is unknown whether Chrome-6 MCL will remain at the previous MCL or 10 mg/L, or lower. California is currently assessing a range, from one to 25 mg/L. However, considering that the previous MCL was invalidated, due to insufficient economic visibility evaluation, it is unlikely that the new MCL will be much lower than 10 mg/L. Staff will continue to track this MCL development closely, and will provide an update when the new information becomes available.
Director Palmer asked, in terms of the amounts that you are measuring, there are two main methods that are used and together they can measure a whole bunch of different things. What methods were you using? Because, right now they are trying to ask for flexibility in terms of whether they use the 537.1, which is the most predominant method, or the 533, which is a newer method, but it does not measure all of them, together they measure more. So, what methodology have we relied on? Ms. O'Brien answered, starting this year January, our first quarter sample, we are utilizing both methods. Then, that will provide us a total of the 29 PFAS that the EPA is proposing for the upcoming UCMR 5 monitoring.
Director Smith McDonald asked, why there was such variability out of Chain of Lakes Five. Ms. O'Brien answered, it is hard to say why Chain of Lake five has that variability as compared to Chain of Lake one and two. It is really hard; it is two data points. And we need to collect more samples to see if there really is any seasonal variation. Mr. Chahal added, it is also one of our newest wells, it is the least used well, as compared to one and two. So, that could be the reason as Angela said, we do not have a definite answer why we are seeing variation in that well.
Director Smith McDonald further asked, how does that inform how we are moving forward with how we treat it, if it is bouncing around that much? Mr. Chahal responded that, the reason we do this graph, we are looking for any trends. Do we have any trend we see from the data? In any one well, is it going down or up? That is basically why we are doing the right-side graph, but none of these wells showing any trend at this time.
Director Ramirez Holmes asked, what happens if we spend $2 million on design and the MCL is in line with current regulations, or it gets delayed the way Chrome-6 did? Mr. Chahal responded for Chrome-6; we did not spend any money on design. Projects were included in the CIP in the past as placeholders. We have not done anything other than monitoring this regulation. And other than coming up with a blending plan that, how low can we meet with blending? Director Ramirez Holmes responded, we shuffled a bunch of CIP projects and deferred a bunch of projects to hold the money and project for this if needed, correct? Mr. Chahal answered, it might have impacted some other project schedules, but we did not go forward with any of the chromium-6 design, or any other facility at this time. It might have impacted schedules for some other projects.
Director Ramirez Holmes asked how many PFAS facilities currently are in production in California. Ms. O'Brien responded that there were several online already - Santa Clarita, Eastern Municipal Water District, and Rancho Cordova.
Mr. Woods presented the design aspect of the PFAS Treatment Facility explaining the proposed scope of work, overall PFAS treatment strategies, the project schedule, the cost breakdown, the selection process that was used, and the recommendations to the Board. Mr. Woods explained the planning and bench scale testing which would include potential facility layouts and extensive bench scale testing of various medias, that would allow us to find and select the media that is best suited to our treatment goals.
The basis of design would set the design criteria for the treatment facility that would include the actual media selection, vessel selection, size, arrangement, and quantity. Based on these decisions, we would proceed with full design plans and specifications, which would be ready for bidding contractors. In terms of the design process, the consultant will also offer secret funding assistance.
Mr. Woods explained that the treatment strategies for PFAS, Granular Activated Carbon or GAC, as well as Ion Exchange, or IX, have both been identified by the US EPA as the best available technology for PFAS treatment. This means upwards of 90% removal of PFAS. In addition to that, a GAC, or IX system would be most cost effective. There is a potential of a hybrid system and with this flexibility Chrome-6 treatment in the future could be accommodated. Treatment of PFAS means sending the water through one of these types of media, GAC or IX. In order to do that, you have to have the media contained within a pressure vessel. These pressure vessels, all the associated piping, electrical, and the controls, make up the capital cost.
With the design progressing through the remainder of this year, we would most likely come back to the Board for the secret document around November. A potential for selection of the media vessels will be around April 2022 during the first checkpoint. By selecting a vessel manufacturer during design, construction time of the facility could be reduced by three to four months. The purchase and fabrication of the vessels would be linked to the construction phase of the project. Advertising for the construction of the facility would coincide with the release of the draft MCLs. Proceeding with the design of the facility right now would eliminate the potential of having to shut down the Chain of Lakes wells for non-compliance.
The total project cost is projected to be about $25.8 million. Staff went through a formal request for proposal process, in which four proposals were received. Through that process, Carollo Engineers was selected by staff, as the most qualified to perform the engineering services work on the PFAS treatment project. Staff recommends awarding the engineering services contract to Carollo, in the amount of $1.375 million with a 10% contingency.
Director Smith McDonald inquired about federal money available for water infrastructure and water quality projects and suggested looking into the Drinking Water and Wastewater Act. Ms. Pryor stated that the State Senate has a $3.4 billion drought relief package, which has passed the budget subcommittee. This package includes $100 million for water quality, including PFAS remediation. This could be a possibility for Zone 7. Ms. O'Brien stated that Carollo has a specialist that will provide assistance in identifying and preparing application for grants and other funding opportunities.
Director Palmer asked if the $1.7 to $2 million included disposal of the hazardous material that comes out of getting rid of, either the ion exchange, or the GAC. Mr. Woods responded that the O&M costs include procurement of new media. Ms. O'Brien stated that part of Carollo's team will be looking into potentially getting some surface contract with the future media suppliers, so that is all going to be included in disposal costs.
Director Green asked about the expandability of this particular facility and if we needed two more vessels or so, would there be room for that. Mr. Woods answered that the facility would be sited around Chain of Lakes One and that there was room to expand the facility for future wells, more vessels can also be added which will handle a higher flow to abate the PFAS in them.
Director Ramirez Holmes stated that the EPA did a webinar a few months ago about PFAS treatment, state of the science, and they did a lot of research and have a suite of modeling tools that are available to the public for cost modeling, research needs, spent media, etc. and asked if Carollo will utilize those tools and research that is already happening as part of their design process. Ms. O'Brien responded that she believed so, and they would also acquire many internal data from their past experience of working with various utilities. They will be combining that with the EPS tools for design. Mr. Chahal added that computer modeling is the basis of the design.
Jill Buck, resident of Pleasanton stated that she was very encouraged by staff's report, that there were so many excellent features to what is being proposed, not the least of which is that the pressure chambers would have flexibility in the technology that is employed based on whatever future treatment goals that we have. It seems very smart and she appreciates all of the hard work of both Board and staff. Ms. Buck thanked Zone 7 for the consideration of moving forward with this design for this very important issue facing our water supply.
Director Ramirez Holmes stated that she had doubts about the timing of the project and spending money ahead of what might be needed. The Finance Committee is exploring funding options and in order to take advantage of the state loan potential, we have to be a certain level of design. Due to this, she is going to vote to approve the plan since there is $3 million for the design already budgeted this year, she wants to be able to have that option available to us if needed for the funding of the eventual project and that is only possible if a design is underway.
Director Palmer moved to approve the Award of Engineering Services Contract for Chain of Lakes PFAS Treatment Facility Project, and Director Green seconded the motion. The resolution was approved by a roll call vote of 5-0.
Resolution No. 21-37 Award of Engineering Services Contract for Chain of Lakes PFAS Treatment Facility Project (Item No. 9)
Item 10 -
10. Reports - Directors
Director Palmer reported that she attended the funeral of former Zone 7 Board Member, Steve Kalthoff. She also reported that she attended the DCA's Stakeholder Engagement Committee Meeting on April 28th. Attended a Women in Water meeting on April 29th which discussed COVID-19 testing for wastewater treatment plants, and a PFAS work group on May 4th which was also attended by Director Green, Mr. Chahal, and Ms. O'Brien.
Director Ramirez Holmes reported that she had been appointed to the ACWA Energy Committee, representing region five.
Director Gambs reported that he attended the Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce meeting where he made a presentation about the Zone 7 water supply, discussing the challenges on water reliability, and the projects that are proposed to address them.
Directors Palmer, Ramirez Holmes, and Gambs shared remembrances of former Board Member Steve Kalthoff.
Item 11 -
11. Items for Future Agenda - Directors
There were no items for future agenda.
Item 12 -
The Board stood on adjournment in memory of former Director Kalthoff. The meeting adjourned at 9:18 p.m.