Schlefstein thanked the Sierra Brooks water committee, especially Tom Rowson and introduced Keith Knibb. Assessment Engineer for Sauers Engineering, Inc. Knibb stated in the original engineering analysis deficiencies included an inadequate water supply and inefficient storage capacity. He said they recognized excessive pressures in the system and a number of customers have pressure-reducing systems, adding it was not very efficient. Knibb stated 38 parcels along Smithneck Road don’t have access to the water system. He said the current system is basically deficient in every way except for being good water quality. Knibb said there was no plan to expand the system beyond the subdivision, and designed a system with sufficient storage that will alleviate excess pressures, enhance fire protection and increase the reliability of the system.
Annual payment would be $246.30/year per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU), which is $20.52/month per parcel to cover the debt service on the loan portion. Knibb stated residents could make direct cash payment of $5,606.86..... which would be over a $3,000 savings over the 39 years. An additional operational and maintenance cost will be $19.58 per month per parcel that has a meter. Meters are a requirement set forth by the USDA allowing access to a low interest loan and grant funds. This project has established a base water consumption rate of 50,288 gallons per month. Water usage over the monthly base of 50,288 gallons will cost $2.27 per 1,000 gallons. Knibb stated residents were already paying $20 per month for water service and with the $40.10 increase, customers would be paying approximately $60.10/month for water. He said it would be a majority protest and residents will have 45 days to mail in a written protest.
Belligerence erupted from an audience member, who said in “1997 we paid for all that stuff.” He felt they were being taken for a ride and “sold a bag of goods.” The audience member wouldn’t quit yelling and stated they were “selling out his freedom.” Another audience member was filming the chaotic scene, asking to interview Sierra County Planning Director Tim Beals and following the other audience member’s lead by yelling at anyone who tried to maintain control. The Sierra County Sheriff’s Department was called and a deputy responded to the meeting that was on break until the disruptive attendees left.
Once the meeting resumed, questions were taken. If residents have two lots. Knibb stated every parcel would pay $20.52/month, and pay $19.58 for service to each lot. Vacant lots won’t have meters and under the USDA funding, can’t be included in this project, but designed to be available in the future. All other properties will get a meter as part of the project. If they already have a meter. Beals stated, that was a dilemma, and would be part of the ordinance change.
Another question centered checks and balances on this project and why not done originally. Knibb told the audience they would have construction management inspections. Beals admitted quality control was not done in 1969, but stated a full time resident engineer would be there for onsite inspections by the low bid contract. Audience members were gun shy about contractors coming in and taking advantage. Knibb stated they were building in as many safeguards as they could and would be attracting larger contractors based on the size of the project. He added it was always in the interest of the County to get it right. Another question asked how much a single household averages in water per day. Knibb stated any outdoor irrigation would make use go up, but said indoor use averages 300-500 gallons per day. It was asked, what happens if the fee was turned down. Beals said if the election does not prevail, “we lose the opportunity” and was not sure what the Board of Supervisors would do, adding residents needed to be in charge of the water system and not the Supervisors. The project needs 50% + 1 of the ballots returned for the debt service to pass.