Water News…from the desk of Marlene King, SFID Director, Div. 3

Water News…from the desk of Marlene King, SFID Director, Div. 3

Board Vacancy Remains for Div. 1, comprised of western RSF and eastern Solana Beach:  May 21st’s Board meeting failed to appoint a new Director for the remaining seven months of former Director Dunford’s term.  Board split 2-2 (King & Petree supporting) on appointing former SFID Director Greg Gruzdowich, who had been elected to a full four year Div.1 term. In explaining his inability to vote to appoint Mr. Gruzdowich, President Hogan cited the technicality that Mr. Gruzdowich had agreed, in February, to be added as a named plaintiff in the RSFA v. SFID litigation – an effort to improve the chances that the Court might certify a Class Action. When questioned, Mr. Gruzdowich responded he would remove his name from the Class Action.   

The Board of Supervisors now has until the end of June to appoint a replacement.  If the Board of Supervisors fails to act, my understanding is SFID will be required to hold a special election, costing tens of thousands of dollars, to have Div. 1 citizens vote – on the November 2020 ballot – for a replacement to a term that expires the first week of December 2020.  This is an absurd and costly exercise that will be required if the Board of Supervisors will not act to allow the citizens of Div. 1 to have their full rights of representation, since the SFID Board failed to act to appoint a replacement.

Lake Hodges Water Released to Ocean:  A month ago it was reported that approximately 2850 AF of water was released over 6-7 days to the San Dieguito River streambed.  That number has been updated.  6800 Acre Feet of water was released over 16 consecutive days.  Additionally, it has also now been determined that the cost to SFID, for moving around approximately 500AF of local water to other County reservoirs, will be an additional $200/AF of transportation costs for those 500 AF.

April water usage:  191.7 residential gallons-per-capita-per-day. Note: the underlying census data which this formula is based upon does not successfully take into account that many properties in the District are second homes, meaning these second homes are not counted in the “per capita” census data.  This fact is another example how the property and customer profiles of the customers of SFID do not follow the customer/property profiles of a typical water purveyor.

Budget FY’21 Update:  May’s Board meeting devoted most of its time to reviewing staff recommended cost-cutting measures.  Many actions were to push particular expenses into the FY’22 budget.  Some expense cuts were a result of meetings/conferences that are cancelled due to Covid-19, thereby not permitting staff to attend.  Overtime budgets were cut 10% across all department categories. One distribution staff position will remain unfilled during FY’21, with staff stating they would fill it in FY’22.  

As I listened to the staff discussion, I was thinking that FY’22 was also going to be hard-pressed to have expenses meet revenues projected by the COSS adopted January 2020. As Dir. Petree noted, he appreciated staff “lightening up the budget”, but if our FY’21 projection is wrong, where would we recapture or reduce our expenses to balance the budget?  There was only the most cursory of references to how Covid-19 financial implications on the economy might affect SFID revenues. Time will tell…   

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