Zone 7 Meeting - August 18, 2021
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ALAMEDA COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
August 18, 2021
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
SHELISA JACKSON, ACTING HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER
AMPARO FLORES, INTEGRATED PLANNING MANAGER
JOE SETO, PRINCIPAL ENGINEER
RHETT ALZONA, PRINCIPAL ENGINEER
ALEXANDRA BRADLEY, COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST
LIRA WALTER, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
COUNSEL: REBECCA SMITH, DOWNEY BRAND
Item 1 - Closed Session
The Board went into Closed Session at 6:38 p.m. and came out of Closed Session at 7:07 p.m.
Item 2 -
The Board had nothing to report.
Item 3 -
President Ramirez Holmes called the meeting to order at 7:17 p.m., roll call was taken, and all Board members were present.
Item 4 -
Public comment was received from Kelly Abreu, Fremont resident, and Jill Buck, Pleasanton resident.
Item 5 -
Director Green asked that the changes she made to the minutes last month be changed to read, "Director Green stated that she supports awarding of this contract. The information supplied is needed and the portion that involves potable reuse she thinks is being properly funded, and this is something she will be supporting."
Director Palmer stated that there was a typo on her comment on page 9 of the minutes.
Both changes will be made and the minutes will be brought to the next Board Meeting for approval.
Director Smith McDonald made a motion to approve the minutes of the Regular Board Meeting of July 21, 2021, and Director Green seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Item 6 -
President Ramirez Holmes asked to move Item 6g after Item 9.
Director Palmer asked to pull Items 6f, 6h, and 6i, and made a motion to approve Items 6a through 6e. Director Figuers seconded the motion. Items 6a through 6e were approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Resolution No. 21-58 Water Quality Analysis Equipment Replacement Purchase
Resolution No. 21-59 Replacement of the Del Valle Water Treatment Plant Traveling Screen
Resolution No. 21-60 Award of Contract for Trucking Services
Resolution No. 21-61 Contract Amendment for Carollo Engineers for MGDP Concentrate Conditioning Project
Regarding Item 6f, Director Palmer stated that she supported identical agreements with the Cities of Pleasanton, Livermore, and Dublin, but asked if Pleasanton had unique recreational use issues that do not apply to Dublin or Livermore. Joe Seto, Principal Engineer, said there were little differences in how the agency operates with each of these cities; however, the last recreational agreements with both Dublin and Pleasanton were over 10 years ago with outdated terms. Getting all three cities on the same page will provide similar standards when operating trails, in addition to flood control operations and maintenance.
Director Palmer moved to approve Item 6f and Director Gambs seconded the motion. The item was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Resolution No. 21-62 Recreational Use License Agreement with the City of Pleasanton
Regarding Item 6h, Director Palmer asked if the step process complied with the union agreements. Osborn Solitei, Treasurer/Assistant General Manager, Finance, confirmed that there were no issues. Director Palmer moved to approve Item 6h and Director Green seconded the motion. The item was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Resolution No. 21-64 Personnel Action: Change in Salary Schedules
Regarding Item 6i, Director Palmer asked if the vacant positions were deleted or if the Senior Water Resources Planner was a new position. Valerie Pryor, General Manager, explained that the item would approve a classification which could be used in multiple instances. A Senior Water Resources Planner position was added and funded by the mid-cycle budget adjustment, and salary savings were taken from positions that were not being filled. Mr. Solitei confirmed that other positions were not deleted. Director Palmer made a motion to approve Item 6i and Director Green seconded the motion. The item was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Resolution No. 21-65 Personnel Action: Senior Water Resources Planner, Zone 7
Item 7 -
Ms. Pryor stated that this item would establish a new standing committee which can be done by Board action, and she described its key goals. The three-member Legislative Committee would review legislation and regulatory policies affecting Zone 7 and would be responsible for communicating updates and recommendations on issues to the Board of Directors.
President Ramirez Holmes felt that it was appropriate to advance the Board's legislative activity and utilize the Sacramento lobbyists.
Director Green inquired about the funding for the committee. Ms. Pryor indicated that committee members would receive stipends to attend meetings.
Director Smith McDonald asked if legislative committees were common among other water agencies. President Ramirez Holmes confirmed and noted that Zone 7 was one of the few that did not have one.
Director Figuers moved to approve Item 7 and Director Palmer seconded the motion. The item was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Item 8 -
Ms. Pryor pointed out that the action before the Board was only the formation of the Joint Powers Authority (JPA). Board consideration of funding and participation in the planning phase for the next calendar year would take place at a later date. Ms. Pryor introduced Dr. Amparo Flores, Integrated Planning Manager, who provided information on the consideration of the JPA. Maureen Martin, Contra Costa Water District Special Projects Manager, was present to help answer questions.
President Ramirez Holmes appointed herself as Director and Director Figuers as the alternate.
Director Palmer asked if the project qualified for federal infrastructure package funds. Ms. Martin stated yes, it was authorized to receive federal funding under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act). Fourteen million was received through the federal fiscal year 2021, and reclamation's request for fiscal year 2022 under the WIIN Act was $15 million. As the infrastructure bill progresses, additional funding may be secured above and beyond what is already authorized.
Director Sanwong asked how many water agency members were anticipated to be on JPA Board. Ms. Martin indicated that there are seven members who will be sharing in the multi-party cost agreement. Grasslands Water District was an ex-officio member and had a special status. While they are a member of the Board, they have prohibitions on voting on funding activities since their contribution of funding is coming through state and federal funding. She noted an unusual revision in Proposition 1 that requires the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to have an ex-officio membership on the JPA. DWR had no intention of participating in any meetings, so they are not signatories of the official JPA membership guideline.
Director Sanwong asked what California has done to build increased storage capacity knowing the different water supply challenges in the state. She thought this was an excellent example of moving forward to have additional capacity. In the 1950s/1960s, the State Water Project (SWP) was developed as a centralized state project without multi-party agreements and stakeholders. She inquired about the state and how things were different in comparison to the mid-20th century. Ms. Pryor stated that there was federal, state, regional, and local projects. Currently, this was a very good regional project for Zone 7 to consider.
Director Green asked when the amount of additional storage would be finalized, and if the final amount would change the cost or provide any savings per acre-foot if more came to Zone 7. Dr. Flores explained that staff were developing a new water supply model and were planning to undertake an update of the water supply evaluation by early next year which would re-evaluate how much storage makes sense. Contra Costa Water District had a very strong modeling group and was willing to entertain different scenarios for the agencies to optimize the use of the reservoir for agency purposes. The coming amendment this fall will reflect an even split amongst the participants so that that cost will not be affected but would be based on the storage amount as a reservoir down the road. It could fluctuate depending on the amount of storage that is being exercised.
The directors expressed their support of the project.
Director Gambs asked to include information on the pipeline that connects Bethany to the Delta through their pumping plants as one of the main focuses in the study. Dr. Flores confirmed that it would be included in the modeling and evaluation.
Director Palmer moved to approve Item 8 and Director Sanwong seconded the motion. The item was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Resolution No. 21-66 Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion: Joint Powers Authority Formation
Item 9 -
Ms. Pryor gave an informational report discussing the drought and the expectations for 2022 following two critically dry years.
President Ramirez Holmes stressed the importance of the item as many things were occurring that required urgent discussion. She referred to the current 7% conservation rate and viral photos of the Oroville Dam. She felt the need to act soon and to implore on the retailers to reduce fall demand. Given the information, she thought that the Board should consider declaring a shortage level sooner than the September Board Meeting, which would allow the cities to consider it sooner than their October meeting. She wanted to provide the public with clear instructions on how to achieve at least 15% conservation and felt that outdoor irrigation provided the quickest opportunity to conserve for 2022. She was hopeful that the Board would consider options two and three, and for the item to be brought back to the September 1st Special Board Meeting to take action and adopt a formal resolution.
Director Sanwong asked if it was true that the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) was advocating for 0% allocation due to environmental concerns. She commented on other agencies enforcing mandatory and voluntary conservation and recognized the efforts being made within Zone 7's service area; however, these were unprecedented times and she no longer felt that voluntary conservation was effective enough. She asked if there were studies on mandatory versus voluntary conservation. Ms. Pryor was aware that the NRDC had requested it as she had seen letters to that effect. She could not recall any studies, but that the agency was not receiving the conservation target it had hoped for.
President Ramirez Holmes clarified that the Board cannot implement a mandatory program. A shortage is declared, then the retailers are asked for a voluntary or mandatory demand reduction as needed.
Carol Mahoney, Integrated Water Resources Manager, said the water conservation coordination groups have several studies. Behavior is related to understanding how much water people are using, so messaging in a relatable way is key.
Director Sanwong asked if there was a process in place if the groundwater basin is depleted to a low level due to a multi-year drought. Ms. Pryor noted that the groundwater basin was artificially recharged with about three years of storage. Ms. Mahoney stated that the groundwater basin was monitored for that very purpose. Semi-annuals were done in the spring and fall to evaluate each of the basins.
Director Palmer stated that perhaps some of the agency's availability in terms of monitoring this comes under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) as a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA). Ms. Mahoney concurred.
Director Green asked for clarification on what a mandate would entail. She understood that the agency could declare a shortage but not a mandate. Ms. Mahoney explained that Zone 7 would look at its full resources, and its current and future availability. Estimates are based on these several times a year so the information is used to create the water supply operations plan. Allocations can then be provided based on the retailers' requests for the foreseeable demand. Based on these projections, a shortage can be declared at any time based on the conditions. President Ramirez Holmes also gave examples of watering regulations and fines that were implemented in the past.
Director Sanwong noted that Governor Newsom said that he was looking at mandatory conservation beginning at the end of September.
Director Smith McDonald was interested in the retailers' input to provide adequate direction.
Ms. Pryor stated that a representative from Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) was present and could provide their insight.
Director Figuers said it will be difficult for the public if water usage must be curtailed since many have already transitioned to highly efficient appliances and drought-tolerant lawns. He felt that implementing a mandate is the only option left available. He added that the Livermore Valley is one of the most structurally complex groundwater basins in California. He felt it was important to start understanding the geologically and hydrologically of that area.
Director Gambs was concerned about the time it would take for the retailers to implement mandatory conservation without losing out on the opportunity. He felt that it was important for staff to have discussions with the retailers about the timeframe prior to the September 1st meeting. Ms. Pryor explained that each retailer has different programs, so the timing of implementation could vary. She attended monthly meetings with management of each of the retailers since the beginning of the drought and the potential of mandatory conservation is coming. She said it was a likely possibility and perhaps plans should be made for it.
Comments were received from Kathleen Yurchak, Director of Operations and Water Utilities for the City of Pleasanton and Jan Lee, Assistant General Manager for DSRSD.
The directors each shared which options they preferred. Director Sanwong expressed her support of option three. Directors Palmer, Green, and Figuers were in favor of options three and five. Director Gambs supported options three, four and five. Director Smith McDonald supported options three and five. President Ramirez Holmes was in favor of options three and a qualified five. She had concerns about Hopyard well #7 in terms of the water quality.
The item will be brought to the September 1st Special Board Meeting for the Board to discuss further and take action.
Item 6g -
President Ramirez Holmes pulled Item 6g because she thought the discussion would be related to Item 9 and Zone 7 water supply since it was an expenditure for communications and outreach support services specific to an outdoor irrigation reduction message. She asked staff to work with retailers so funding is available for any joint efforts. Ms. Pryor confirmed and added that the item could be approved then tailored to the action taken at the September 1st meeting.
Director Figuers asked about the target audience of the outreach messaging. Ms. Pryor stated that specific information would be provided by the retailers and the agency would work with them to appropriately target outdoor irrigation.
Director Smith McDonald suggested approving the item but having the language adaptable to the messaging for flexibility in working with the retailers.
President Ramirez Holmes moved to approve Item 6g and Director Palmer seconded the motion. The item was approved by a roll call vote of 6-1, with Director Figuers abstaining.
Resolution No. 21-63 Contract Amendment for Strategic Communications and Outreach Support Services for Targeted Drought Messaging
The Board took a 10-minute break.
Item 10 -
Shelisa Jackson, Acting Human Resources Manager, presented a summary of human resources activities over the past year. She introduced the human resources team which consisted of herself and Amanda Dalnoki, Human Resources Technician. Ms. Jackson also acknowledged Zone 7 staff who have powered through the pandemic, complied with the ever-changing safety protocols, stayed connected, all while maintaining and increasing productivity.
Director Palmer asked to use "anti-harassment training" as opposed to "harassment training". She was pleased to get an overview of the program, as it could help in employee retention and succession planning.
President Ramirez Holmes noted that the results of the employee survey would be brought back to the board in October.
Director Gambs was pleased with the presentation and happy to see the agencywide barbecue on the schedule as he recalled it to be a very enjoyable event for staff.
Item 11 -
Ms. Pryor gave a status update on the progress of the adopted five-year Strategic Plan and highlighted the key accomplishments.
Item 12 -
12. Committees - no comments were received by the Board
Item 13 -
President Ramirez Holmes thanked everyone for their patience in conducting meetings in the Zoom format. She touched on working to transition to in-person meetings. The Legislative Committee appointments were Director Palmer, Director Sanwong, and herself. She thanked the Board for their commitment in serving on all committees.
Director Palmer gave an update on the PFOS/PFOA information. The draft Public Health Goals were put out on July 22nd. Public comment began July 30th which would continue until September 28th. A virtual public workshop would also be held on September 28th from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Delta Conveyance Design & Construction Authority (DCA) met in July and decided to meet bi-monthly. The directors are still meeting once a month with the Executive Director, staff, and legal counsel to stay current any new developments. The latest information was posted on www.dcdca.org. The Stakeholder Engagement Committee would meet in September and again in November. Director Palmer said that she attended the Women in Water meeting which features women panelists, but men are always welcome to attend.
President Ramirez Holmes announced that the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Fall Conference would be held virtually and in-person in Pasadena.
A discussion took place about how the Board could return to in-person meetings. President Ramirez Holmes said the Board would meet in person as employees would be asked to return to working onsite. The timeline continues to evolve as regulations are constantly changing. She ensured that safety was of the utmost importance and asked the Board to express any concerns to the General Manager as they continued to discuss the matter further.
President Ramirez Holmes asked the Board to submit their interest in ACWA committees to Donna Fabian, Executive Assistant, by the end of the month. She will compile the recommendations with the General Manager.
Item 14 -
Director Sanwong asked for a presentation to the Board about wildfires, the ecosystem, watershed, and water supply to gain a better understanding of the current state of the environment.
Director Palmer recalled information about water quality related to debris and in the watershed from the fires was provided by ACWA. She asked for updates on the progress of interties and the Bay Area desalination projects in the near future. President Ramirez Holmes indicated that she had already asked the General Manager for a desal one-pager to specifically address Zone 7's participation. She would also share an informational Q&A which covered general challenges in with desal and regulation.
Item 15 -
Ms. Pryor highlighted two items from Item 15a. The 2020 Annual Consumer Confidence Report, formerly known as the Annual Water Quality Report, was finalized and on the website.
The Government Finance Officers Association of North America has awarded the Agency with the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in financial reporting for the fiscal year 2019-2020. This was the fourth year in a row that Zone 7 received this award, which recognizes the agency's commitment to public transparency and accountability. She acknowledged Mr. Solitei and his staff for their support in transparency and financial reporting.
Item 16 -
President Ramirez Holmes adjourned the meeting at 9:39 p.m.