Water board to consider buying desalinated water

By Karen Brainard

Ramona Municipal Water District directors will soon have to decide if it wants the district to participate in the San Diego County Water Authority’s (CWA) purchase of desalinated water.

RMWD is one of 24 member agencies of the water authority. David Barnum, RMWD general manager, represents the district on the CWA board.

Barnum told the Ramona water board at its Aug. 14 meeting that he will present more information on CWA’s desalination purchase agreement at the board’s Aug. 28 meeting.Barnum also suggested the board form an ad hoc committee to review the purchase agreement, which is 300 to 400 pages long. Board President Bryan Wadlington and Director Darrell Beck offered to be on the ad hoc committee.

On Aug. 9, CWA announced that a proposed 30-year water purchase agreement with Poseidon Resources to buy desalinated seawater will be released later this month. A 60-day public review period will then follow. During that time CWA member agencies will have the opportunity to purchase a portion of the desalinated water from the water authority as their own local supply.

Poseidon Resources has a desalination project in Carlsbad.

Desalinated water will cost one and a half to two times the cost of other water supplies, said Barnum, so future water costs would increase.

The water authority is holding two public meetings on desalinated water, one at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 13, at 4677 Overland Ave., San Diego, and another at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Carlsbad Senior Center, 799 Pine Ave., Carlsbad.

In other business at the Aug. 14 RMWD meeting:

•Water Operations Superintendent Johnny Brean informed the board of the infrastructure replacement program in downtown Ramona. Brean said workers have been replacing some of the oldest pipelines and valves in the district, dating back to around the 1930s.

Barnum said the board allocated $200,000 of discretionary property tax money in the 2012-13 budget for the program. He said the district expects to about spend $100,000 for the infrastructure program this year. The work is being done by district staff.

•The board was asked to approve a one-year extension for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to exercise its option to purchase a conservation easement on the district’s sprayfield property at the Santa Maria Wastewater Reclamationt Plant. The need to extend the agreement to Aug. 8, 2013, was due to delays by regulatory agencies, according to the district.

The water district purchased property from TNC in 2008 to expand the sprayfields, but included in the agreement was an option for TNC to purchase an easement. With the easement referred to as an Invasive Species Eradication Easement, Beck questioned what that meant and asked that a vote be deferred until the board received clarification.

•No one from the public spoke at the hearing for the fire mitigation fee multi-year facilities and equipment plan. The board adopted the 2012-13 plan. The fire mitigation fee for new construction or remodel is 46 cents per square foot.

   
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