Zone 7 Meeting - April 20, 2022
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ALAMEDA COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
April 20, 2022
The following were present:
DIRECTORS: SANDY FIGUERS
ANGELA RAMIREZ HOLMES
MICHELLE SMITH MCDONALD
ZONE 7 STAFF: VALERIE PRYOR, GENERAL MANAGER
OSBORN SOLITEI, TREASURER/ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER, FINANCE
COLTER ANDERSEN, PRODUCTION MANAGER
JARNAIL CHAHAL, ENGINEERING MANAGER
CAROL MAHONEY, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS MANAGER
AMPARO FLORES, INTEGRATED PLANNING MANAGER
SAL SEGURA, ASSOCIATE ENGINEER
DONNA FABIAN, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
COUNSEL: REBECCA SMITH, DOWNEY BRAND
Item 1 - Closed Session
The Board went into Closed Session at 6:05 p.m. Directors Figuers and Smith McDonald were absent. The Board came out of Closed Session at 6:42 p.m.
Item 2 -
President Ramirez Holmes called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m.
Item 3 -
Item 4 -
4. Roll Call of Directors - all Directors were present.
Item 5 -
5. Public Comment - there were no comments from the public.
Item 6 -
Director Palmer made a motion to approve the Consent Calendar and Director Figuers seconded the motion. The Consent Calendar was approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Item 7 -
Director Palmer made a motion to approve the Special Board Meeting minutes of March 2, 2022, and Director Figuers seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Director Sanwong made a motion to approve the Regular Board Meeting minutes of March 16, 2022, and Director Smith McDonald seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by a roll call vote of 6-0-1 with Director Palmer abstaining.
Item 8 -
Sal Segura, Associate Civil Engineer, presented the 2022 Annual Sustainability Report. Mr. Segura's presentation highlighted precipitation, weather, allocation, groundwater pumping at historic levels, recovery from Kern County, and other transfers.
Amparo Flores, Ph.D., Integrated Planning Manager, gave a preview of the process to update the water supply evaluation. Dr. Flores stated that the purpose of the update is to evaluate Zone 7's ability to meet its reliability policy while accounting for uncertainties.
Director Gambs asked if staff are comfortable going down to levels mentioned in slide 8 after the drought in the late 80s. Mr. Segura replied that staff from the Groundwater group looks closely at the projections for groundwater use and have not been told this is unsustainable. Director Gambs stated that it sounds like the limitation is not the level of groundwater but the amount that can be pumped each year. Mr. Segura concurred.
Director Gambs asked if staff planned to update the methodology used to project demands to a more technical science-based assumption. Dr. Flores responded that for the Annual Sustainability Report, staff has very specific assumptions that they make. In fact, this year staff deviated from that and made it a bit more conservative for 2024. However, for long-term water supply planning, staff use historical hydrology and random Monte Carlo simulations to come up with thousands of iterations. Dr. Flores added that staff is using the average projection for existing conditions of the State Water Project (SWP). Dr. Flores added that looking at historical hydrology has become tricky because staff keep breaking records and deviating from history. It is no longer about how to respond to average historical conditions but managing the risks expected in the future.
Director Gambs stated that he thought the most important factor is looking at how the Agency uses its groundwater basin because there is a lot of storage there and he would like to see it fully utilized.
Director Smith McDonald asked to talk about the current rainfall totals that were shown on slide six and if someone could explain where we are this year. Mr. Segura replied that 90% the average shows that the Livermore area is doing slightly better than the North Sierra but it is all relative. The real take-home is that the December storms brought in a significant amount of water into Lake Del Valle and Zone 7 was able to capture about 2,500 acre feet but once those rains were receded, it went back to dry. Mr. Segura added that the few storms in April were enough to wet the streams and some of the urban runoff will go into the streams, a lot of that water will recharge into the ground but it is not going to get us out of the below normal.
Valerie Pryor, General Manager, added that about 70% of this community's water is imported and even though we are closer to average in our local watershed, the SWP supplies are limited.
Director Green agreed with Director Gambs with regard to understanding the hydrology a little better and asked if staff have any sort of insight as to what is going on with the state to better that science. Dr. Flores said that in general, they are incorporating climate change into the picture, reflecting more extreme events, etc. Ms. Pryor added that the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is looking at snow surveys at higher elevations, and they are embarking on a three-year project to install more sensors to get better at looking at snow surveys and runoff. DWR is making some immediate changes and some more midterm.
President Ramirez Holmes asked where the Agency will be at the end of 2022 in terms of storage. Mr. Segura replied around 80%. President Ramirez Holmes asked if they would have enough to meet projected demands with the projected conservation and Mr. Segura replied yes.
President Ramirez Holmes asked how this would change if they are not meeting 15% conservation. Mr. Segura replied staff will continue to review that as the year unfolds and are hoping the public will step up and conserve at least the 15% Zone 7 is asking for. Dr. Flores added that staff is still trying to pursue additional water transfers which could make up for any additional demand. Another option is pumping more groundwater.
Item 9 -
Ms. Pryor stated it is a critically dry year for the third year in a row. Zone 7 has been allocated 5% this year. There is enough supply planned to meet demands this year, but it is getting close. Ms. Pryor asked the Board if they wanted to stay at the current drought emergency with 15% mandatory conservation or if the Board wanted to consider any other options.
Director Sanwong stated she would like to explore increasing the mandatory conservation percentage and how that could be done. Ms. Pryor stated that it depends on when the Board would want to act. They could stay at stage two of the water shortage contingency plan and require 20% mandatory conservation. President Ramirez Holmes disagreed with Director Sanwong. She said if they are achieving zero conservation right now, asking for more will not necessarily be helpful to get people to take it seriously. She felt that stronger messaging was needed with specifics, and that it needed to be communicated more clearly. President Ramirez Holmes made it clear that there will not be any implementation of a drought surcharge because they anticipated a surplus. Director Palmer stated that suggestions could be given, but ultimately, it is up to the retailers to make it happen.
Director Gambs stated that he thought it was premature to make a cutback now. He felt that the customers should have an opportunity to make those cutbacks. He said he has confidence that the citizens are going to step up and make the cuts.
Public comment was received from Kelly Abreu, Linda Kelly, and Dawn Benson.
President Ramirez Holmes wanted to reiterate that the Board is staying at 15%. She asked for Board comment. Director Green said she is not in a position to make any changes right now, but thought it was a discussion that needed to continue to keep track of what is going on and to have the ability to make some changes if necessary. Director Palmer agreed that the Agency is in a good position at 15%, and this should be revisited as time goes on. Director Sanwong felt a need to push for more conservation, and she could get on board with not bringing this back in May, but also trying to come up with different ideas for what can be done to help communicate the message.
Director Palmer mentioned the letter received from Karl Wente where he listed the things the vineyards have done to conserve, and she thinks it would be a negative thing for the Valley to ask them to do something that is not possible. President Ramirez Holmes agreed with Director Palmer.
Director Gambs said that you really cannot cut back on the vineyards like you can a lawn. He believed they have probably already achieved a 15% reduction.
Director Figuers stated that the Agency does not provide the mechanics on how to cut back. He added if staff and the retailers got together with the experts in the vineyards they could come up with systems that a homeowner or landscaper could install that would prevent overwatering. Director Smith McDonald is supportive of maintaining 15%. President Ramirez Holmes asked that staff continue to provide an update in both the May and June Board meetings.
Item 10 -
Dr. Flores presented the continued participation in the planning process for the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP) for the next two years. She gave an overview of the project, highlighted its objectives, and how it supports Zone 7's Strategic Plan Initiatives and project process. She noted that the project was on schedule and on budget. Dr. Flores went over the project schedule, status, and Delta Conveyance Authority updates. She reviewed the DCP preliminary cost information and explained that the project is still being defined and could be impacted by the terms of the permits. It was still estimated at $15.9 billion, which would be updated soon. Dr. Flores presented the costs of the DCP participation and funding sources. She also went over the preliminary DCP benefits analysis, how the DCP improves the SWP resilience under future conditions, its benefits to the Tri-Valley, and the benefits of continued project participation. Dr. Flores welcomed questions from the Board.
The Board took a 10-minute break.
Director Gambs stated that slide 15 showed the future with and without the DCP and there was a large discrepancy for the extreme sea-level rise as it applies to the average yield of the project. He asked for this to be quantified by staff as there was a particularly visible difference and he was interested in how it affects the SWP yield. Dr. Flores said the third column on slide 15 showed the different scenarios with the DCP, the second column shows what it would look like without it, and the triangle scenario represents extreme sea-level rise. It goes from about one and a half million acre feet to two and a half million acre feet, providing 25% potential improvement with the DCP of one million acre feet.
Director Gambs then asked about the quantified impacts of seawater intrusion making the water saltier and therefore reducing water quality. Dr. Flores said she reached out to the DCP team and they will provide updated water quality modeling results as part of the environmental documents to be released.
Director Smith McDonald asked about the funding source, Fund 100, and whether the money is available, in place, and if the Agency is ready for the expense. Ms. Pryor stated that they have projected this expense in Fund 100 and in the Agency's financial projections. The Board's decision would impact what would be proposed in the upcoming two-year budget.
Director Smith McDonald then inquired about any federal infrastructure dollars or other funding sources that might relieve Zone 7 of some of these expenses down the line. Ms. Pryor stated no, they were not aware of any funding other than the State Water Contractors (SWC) paying for it.
Director Green asked when the Board would be asked about funding and what it would be for. Ms. Pryor indicated that the next round of funding would be for calendar years 2023 and 2024 so discussions about funding for the next phase would take place about a year and a half. The next phases would be more expensive as it would include design to the 30% level. The cost would be up to three to four times more, as with any capital project. Planning, design, and then construction become more expensive. At that time, DWR and the related agencies would be looking at financing with 30-year bonds or other long-term financing options.
Director Sanwong asked to confirm the total from 2021 to 2024 being $7.5 million, which would be Zone 7's 2.2% participation level. The total cost funded by the SWC in this phase is $340.7 million. Ms. Pryor confirmed the dollar amounts and believed there were 18 participating agencies.
Director Sanwong then asked about the SWC who were not participating and what happens to their Table A allocation. She also pointed out that contractors that have not participated in the planning process will not have the opportunity to join the DCP. Ms. Pryor confirmed and explained there will always be a Table A under the current contract but there will be a Table A for non-participants, which is based on not accessing the project, and a Table A plus a DCP increment for the participating agencies. There are 29 contractors and 18 are participating in the project.
Director Sanwong asked about Zone 7's portion of the $280 million spent on the California WaterFix Project planning. Ms. Pryor stated that prior to this contribution of funding, it was around $500,000, maybe less.
President Ramirez Holmes felt that $500,000 prior to 2021 seemed low. Ms. Pryor explained that she had pulled what had been allocated towards California WaterFix, the Bay Delta Conservation Program, and the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program (DHCCP), and they were much smaller contributions. Once the Agency started this funding process two years ago is when this level of work began.
Director Sanwong asked if there were others who agreed to participate for the entire four years, unlike Zone 7 joining at the two-year point. Ms. Pryor said this was correct. There are 18 participants and eight agreed to four years' worth of funding. Six of the 10 checking in at year two have already approved it with the Agency as 7 on the consideration list.
Public comment was received from Dan McIntyre, General Manager at Dublin San Ramon Services District.
Public comment was received from Kelly Abreu, Fremont resident.
Director Palmer expressed her support for the project. There was significant input from the Stakeholder Engagement Committee (SEC), which made it a very transparent system and she shared some of the valuable changes that were made. In terms of environmental effects, there are many mitigation factors that were done because of the input from the SEC. They were not in favor of the program; they were valuable and open in their input. Director Palmer also shared that there was a no-project alternative that is being analyzed in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In making decisions about the pipe size, they reviewed the ability to capture the flows coming in with increased flooding due to extreme weather conditions. She emphasized that dual conveyance meant there would be water going down the river and water that would be coming through the pipe when there is excess water. There will be clearer terms of what the numbers are going to be once CEQA has made its decision. She stressed that there would be no opportunity to join if the Agency decides to opt-out now.
Director Palmer moved to approve Item 10 and Director Figuers seconded the motion.
President Ramirez Holmes and Director Gambs asked staff to give an assessment of the water quality, salinity, and other key differences. Dr. Flores said they should wait until the environmental review has been completed, but it is true that water flowing into the South Bay Aqueduct (SBA), which delivers water to Tri-Valley, would similarly be coming off the California Aqueduct making the quality comparable. Ms. Pryor added that as far as water supply, there will be a Table A increment with and without the DCP. The preliminary modeling showed that without the DCP, the Table A yield would be seven to 24% less. With the DCP, Zone 7's Table A would increase from seven to 24%.
President Ramirez Holmes expressed her concern about the DCP not providing more water, and that it was assuming nothing else would be done to improve the Delta in lieu of the project. Ms. Pryor explained that it is based on declining conditions from now. It is not more water than what is available today, but it is more water than anticipated when it comes online in 2040. She was unaware of any other proposals to improve the Delta.
Director Gambs stated that the SWP has an average yield of 59% which is further reduced by 25% without the DCP. The Agency has facilities in terms of its share of the California Aqueduct and SBA, which would be hugely over-designed if it does not get some of that capacity back.
Director Sanwong expressed how much she appreciated Director Palmer's involvement in the SEC. She stressed the importance of not relying on the Sierra snowpack. She then asked if the Sites Reservoir Project Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is being designed for both the DCP as well as without it. Ms. Pryor clarified that Sites Reservoir is a separate project and all the modeling and planning for it is independent of the DCP. Director Sanwong felt strongly about the Sites Reservoir Project because the conveyance of the water from it will go through the Delta, which is how the water is accessed.
Director Sanwong stated that the dual conveyance was an important detail; however, she was not in support of the DCP. She felt that the Delta ecosystem is an important environment and she constantly thought about humans controlling nature and the unintended consequences. It was difficult for her to support the project without seeing the EIR to understand the environmental impact on the Delta.
Director Figuers expressed his support of the DCP and stressed that they could not go another 100 to 200 years trying to formulate another solution.
President Ramirez Holmes expressed her concerns about the project being
extraordinarily expensive for not a drop of water more, and there has been a singular focus on a tunnel project when other improvements could be made. She understood the reliability issues which is why she has been a proponent of diversifying and exploring other options to shore up the Delta to make it more reliable. President Ramirez Holmes stated that she was not in support of the project.
The motion passed by a roll call vote of 5-2 with President Ramirez Holmes and Director Sanwong opposing.
Item 11 -
Ms. Pryor presented stated that Water Awareness Month is celebrated in May in California and during the celebration water agencies throughout the state conduct public outreach and education events to heighten public awareness about water supply and the need for conservation and water use efficiency. She added that staff are working with local partners and retailers to promote a number of community-wise water use awareness events.
Director Figuers moved, and Director Palmer seconded, a motion to approve the resolution. The resolution was approved by a voice vote of 7-0.
Item 12 -
President Ramirez Holmes stated that as part of the General Manager's annual review, the Board evaluates the General Manager's performance through a standard process. Last month the Board indicated satisfactory performance by the General Manager, but placed the compensation part on a separate agenda so that the public has an opportunity to comment. There was no public comment on this item. President Ramirez Holmes made a motion to approve an increase to the General Manager's compensation of 4.5% retroactive to April 17th, 2022. Director Gambs seconded the motion. Director Figuers commented that it is well deserved, and Director Green agreed. The motion passed unanimously by a roll call vote of 7-0.
Item 13 -
13. Committees - notes
Item 14 -
President Ramirez Holmes reported that there was an Ad Hoc Committee meeting on policies on April 12th and another one will be scheduled prior to the June Board meeting. The Committee will bring its findings to the full Board in June. She added that she has been participating on the ACWA Legislative Committee with meetings on March 24th and April 1st. She also attended the Pleasanton State of the City address on March 29th. She had JPA related meetings for the Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion on April 1st and 13th. On April 19th she attended a meeting with Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan regarding a bill that she is carrying on a desalination study. President Ramirez Holmes shared that the Go Green Initiative, along with the City of Pleasanton's Community Education Programming, is showing the Hometown Water Documentary film screening at the Firehouse Art Center in Pleasanton. She added that she will be presenting awards to recognize the winners of the Livermore Water Conservation Art Context at the Livermore City Council meeting on April 25th.
Director Palmer stated that the ACWA Water Quality Committee is working on writing the ACWA response for Chrome 6 due Friday. She attended the Water Education Foundation's Water 101 Workshop on April 8th.
Item 15 -
Item 16 -
Ms. Pryor reported that staff has begun the annual fire prevention maintenance program along the flood protection channels in accordance with the fire marshal standards. This will be completed by June 15th.
Item 17 -
President Ramirez Holmes thanked Tri-Valley Television for getting Zone 7 through its first hybrid meeting. She also thanked the Board Secretary Donna Fabian for managing the meeting as well, being flexible, and responding to Directors' requests.
President Ramirez Holmes adjourned the meeting at 9:49 p.m.