Sunday, 14 July 2024

Upper Lake's water district carries out upgrades, studies annexation issues

UPPER LAKE – Dry weather, possible annexations and system upgrades have all been concerns for the Upper Lake County Water District this year, but the district reports that it's managing the challenges through planning and help from its customer base.

It's been a dry year across the state, and the impacts have been hard on some areas of the county. But Rachelle Henry, general manager for the Upper Lake County Water District, told her board at its Nov. 15 meeting that the district's customers have stepped up.

The district didn't issue a call for conservation, said Henry. But their pumping hours for this October totaled 150, down from 231 at the same time last year.

Henry told Lake County News in an interview after the meeting that she hasn't seen a year this dry during the five years she's been with the district.

“Our wells are down, definitely,” she said.

But the district's customers – accounting for 402 hookups – took on the matter of saving water, she said.

“I'd like to get the word out there about how grateful we are to our constituents,” she said.

Understanding annexation issues

The district's board is now in the process of reviewing a basic annexation agreement that the district could possibly use when future projects are presented, said Henry.

Two possible annexations looming in the future are the Meadow Point mobile home park near Judy's Junction restaurant and the Habematolel Pomo's proposed casino project, said Henry. The district originally was told that the tribe wanted to break ground for the casino in 2008.

Neither project has made a formal application to the district for annexation, Henry said.

However, Habematolel members attended the district board's Oct. 10 meeting to give the district a check for $7,727.33 to cover an engineering study. Henry said the study explored hooking the casino up to the district as well as other alternatives to provide water to the project.

If the tribe does make formal application to join the district, Henry said that the district doesn't have to approve it.

A Bureau of Indian Affairs environmental study on the casino had a lot of holes in it, according to district board members. Henry sent a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs dated June 18, in which she outlined some of the issues, including pointing out that water quality and supply and hydrologic studies needed to be completed prior to the project's approval, not after.

She also explained that the bureau used a 2001 opinion survey on Upper Lake residents' response to a community arch as a basis for community acceptance of the casino. The casino, she pointed out, wasn't on the drawing board at that time.

Henry and the district's board members said they want the district's current customers to weigh in on any possibly annexations.

District upgrades under way

Henry reported that the district's master plan calls for updating its outdated pipe.

Today, 6-inch pipes are considered minimum size for systems such as Upper Lake's, yet in some places they found pipes as small as 2 inches, she explained. They've already replaced several areas of the small pipe to bring it up to accepted standards.

Board Chair Allen Merriman pointed out that the district has had fewer broken pipes and leak problems recently.

Henry said the district doesn't have a hookup moratorium.

The small district does, however, needs money to make system improvements, said Henry.

Last May, capacity expansion and connection fees rose from $3,000 to $10,200, Henry said. A district study found the overall fee should cost $20,400, but the district decided to reduce the fee.

In other district news, at a special meeting Nov. 28, the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO) will hold public hearings on the spheres of influence updates for the Upper Lake, Clearlake Oaks and Konocti County Water Districts, according to LAFCO documents.

The Upper Lake district's next board meeting will take place Dec. 12.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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