Rancho Water discusses wheeling agreement, additional funding for projects

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Jake Wiley, engineering manager for capital improvement projects and development of Rancho California Water District, makes a request to the board of directors for more funding on several projects that have run over budget in a teleconference meeting of the directors Thursday, Aug. 27. Valley News/Courtesy photo

The Engineering and Operations Committee of the Rancho California Water District held a virtual meeting Thursday, Aug. 27, as well as a special meeting of the board of directors.

First, the committee tackled a staff-suggested approval of an interagency agreement between Rancho Water and Western Municipal Water District for wheeling of potable water to provide water service for a development owned by Sauer Trust.

“The request has come from the developer really since 2012 for Rancho to be involved in the service to this property and really the request centers around two main issues,” Jake Wiley, engineering manager for capital improvement projects and development of Rancho Water, said. “One being the extent of the improvements required to extend a Western service of the property, namely about 5,000 feet of pipeline and, and a creek crossing across Vineyard Parkway. Western facilities currently are on the east side of Murrieta Creek. The other issue is the pressure zone; Western pressure in the areas, their 1280 pressure zone, is low for service to the property, based on the developer’s analysis, when you factor in things like fire flow and that they were not able to meet the requirements which would require a pump station or a boosting of pressure to service the property.”

Wiley said that there would be no significant fiscal impacts anticipated for Rancho Water customers based on the requirements for service and the property owners would be required to pay for all necessary infrastructure improvements, fees, and charges for services rendered by Rancho Water.

Richard Aragon, assistant general manager for Rancho Water, agreed that it was a good deal for the water district.

“This was a workaround to help this keep moving forward,” he said. “During the interim, and I think for us, it’s a pretty good outcome for us. We’re definitely being made whole in this, and we’re helping solve the problem.”

Bill Wilson, board president of Rancho Water, spoke in favor of the agreement.

“Moving forward for this specific developer and development, I think it’s a win-win,” he said. “However, I don’t see any numbers associated with this. To speak on Angel’s (Garcia) behalf, show me the money and what’s the upside, what’s the downside to us numerically. That’s what’s missing in this presentation. To recommend to the board, without seeing numbers, it would be on good faith that we’d see some numbers.”

Carol Lee Brady, senior vice president of Rancho Water, had some questions about the project and suggested that the committee and board should workshop the plan.

“I’m very much in favor of supporting business, supporting those that we’re neighbors with, and so forth,” she said. “But this to me is so much information and the past comments of past directors. In my opinion, this is worthy of maybe a workshop or something, a special workshop, so we can take a little bit deeper dive before we move this forward to the full board for a vote.”

After some discussion, including input from general manager Jeff Armstrong, Brady moved that the issue is pushed to the finance committee.

“So that we can evaluate some numbers and get a little bit more detailed answers to some of the questions that we have,” she said. “I appreciate the comments of Director Rossi and Director Plummer and anyone who’s contributed some of the information that was missing, but I still think there’s more to go before I completely am sold on the idea.”

Her motion was approved.

The committee also received in update for administrative code part three from the staff.

“This is a regular occurring item. Every six months we come to the Engineering Operations Committee and update you on any changes we’ve made to standard specifications, standards, drawings, anything along those lines,” Wiley said. “We don’t have a lot in the last six months other than the big branding change that was approved. Font types and acronyms and things like that was kind of the major change, the only significant change.”

The committee also considered approval of additional funding for projects as part of the 2016A Bond Financing Program and heard Project Status Reports from July and August.

“Eleven projects in total totaling, approximately $40 million in total project costs,” Wiley said. “We have 10 of the projects that are, and I mentioned this at our last meeting, that are either complete or very near complete in the next month or so. We’ve got three projects that have exceeded their project budget and I’m going to go through and kind of walk through each one of those. The action today is to provide that additional, budget into those projects. I’m also going to show that the 2016 bond financing program itself, we have excess funds available through some projects that have come in well under budget.

“We need to extend these budgets so we can close out these projects, but the plan is to reallocate funds, so basically no new money, it’s money that’s available within the program that we need to spend,” Wiley said.

The committee approved additional funding for the projects unanimously.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.