Boonville Water and Sewer Proposal 2015

The AVCSD is in the process of exploring the possiblity of water and sewer for Boonville. At the first community meeting on May 20, 2015 several experts were on present to answer questions.


Frequently Asked Questions

email your questions to water.avcsd@gmail.com





      General Questions :

Why should the community consider a water and/or wastewater disposal systems? :

      There is historical evidence of private well contamination in Boonville that is most likely attributable to the proximity of wells and onsite septic systems. The presence of small lots in portions of the community exacerbate the problem. Also, many septic systems are nearing the end of their useful life and in some circumstances there is insufficient space for a standard replacement leach field. When a system fails, the only viable alternatives are in these circumstances very expensive. Recent water quality testing of samples drawn from 23 wells in the densest housing areas revealed alarming levels of E Coli and nitrates confirming a health issue exists. Funding is currently available under State Proposition 1 to create municipal utility systems. This is a relatively new program and this is an opportunity to take advantage of it. The District is interested in developing utility systems under Proposition 1 programs that provide for planning grants to eligible communities to help make projects affordable.


Who will be served? :

      The proposed service areas will be identified and present to the community for comment during the Planning phase. The water system service area might extend from Hutsell Road northerly through Boonville (including side streets) to the High School and Clinic area and beyond into Meadow Estates. The wastewater system service area might extend from Hutsell Road northerly to the Mountain View Road intersection area.


Water vs sewer. Is there an case for one over the other? Can we do both? :

      Water systems are generally easier and less expensive to develop. Either public utility system would alleviate the current potential health issue in Boonville. However, there would still be some potential public health issues remaining if only one system is implemented. Since funding is currently available to study the feasibility of both public water and wastewater disposal systems, the AVCSD is moving forward to study both systems.


What would the planning process look like? :

      The planning process will primarily consist of a feasibility study that establishes a proposed service area, identifies options to develop public utility service (water or wastewater) within it, evaluates the options with respect to cost, environmental impacts and acceptability to the community, and concludes with a recommended project description. The recommended project will then be presented to the community for comment and following receipt of public input, modified as directed by the District. Based on community support, the District will then determine whether to move forward to seek financing for implementation of the project including proceeding with the establishment of local mechanisms (rates, assessments, etc.) that would ultimately be needed to repay project loans and fund system operations and maintenance.


Do the property owners have a chance to vote on the project(s)? :

      The owners of properties within a proposed utility service area that are intended to be served by the project will have the opportunity to vote on any proposed assessment and/or the proposed fees (rates) to be levied for the purpose repaying debt service and providing for ongoing operations and maintenance costs. A majority protest occurs during an assessment proceeding when greater than 50% of the ballots submitted to the public agency, weighted by proposed financial obligation, oppose the assessment. The process to set and adopt fees is set forth in Proposition 218. The definition of a majority protest under Proposition 218 is very different than that for assessments. If less than 50% of all properly noticed property owners file a written protest, then the fees (rates) may be approved.


How would this affect development? If we provide infrastructure how can we control what our town should look like and what projects are approved? :

      It is recognized that the community has concerns about future development in the Boonville area once existing infrastructure-related constraints are removed. We all want to maintain the positive qualities of life in Boonville. We should all recognize that there are other factors that will determine the pace of development and its nature (e.g. zoning, housing demand, proximity to employment opportunities, etc.). The matter of how much growth could theoretically occur was explored at a community meeting on 10/20/15. There is a link to this document on the right column of this page: Mendocino County Planning Dept Analysis. This concern will be addressed continuously as we go through the planning process. On the positive side, if a wastewater disposal system is installed, individual parcels will have more building options including the potential to accommodate small "granny" units. Minimum lot size will be reduced with the addition of either water or wastewater systems


Is everyone in the boundaries of the project required to hook up? :

      It has not yet been determined if all developed parcels with the service area boundaries will be required to immediately connect, however, it will likely be the case. This matter will be analyzed during the planning phase and potential options and associated utility rates presented to the District and community for consideration.





      Potable Water Questions :

Where would the water come from? How would we find it? :

      Identifying a secure water supply for the community is the most important issue to be addressed during the planning phase. The most probable option will be multiple groundwater wells located where the geology and/or existing wells suggest the potential for the best well yields.


What would a municipal drinking water system look like? :

      The distribution system layout and locations of the supply and storage facilities will be determined during the planning phase. The most likely scenario for the water system is a network of water mains supplied by groundwater wells with storage tanks located at an elevation that provides gravity service throughout the service area. The water mains and storage facilities will be sized to deliver both fire and domestic service. Should the water system extend into area currently being served by a private water system (Meadow Estates), it is anticipated that those facilities would be abandoned and not reused.





      Wastewater Questions :

What would a municipal wastewater system look like? :

      The sewage collection system layout, any necessary pump stations and the treatment and disposal system will be determined during the planning phase. Several types of these systems will be evaluated - from a Septic Tank Effluent Pumping (STEP) system with sub-surface disposal to a conventional gravity collection system with a municipal type treatment facility with spray field irrigation. The system that is deemed to be least costly while satisfying project objectives will be preferred.


Can the project include beneficial re-use of treated wastewater effluent? :

      The preferred alternative that is affordable may not include treated water for agricultural use. This will be a topic for our community meetings.





      Financial Questions :

How much would it cost? :

      We will know more when the planning studies are done. The initial planning phase (2016-2018) will be 100% paid for by two State planning grants. The engineering firm of Brelje & Race will be developing planning documents for both a drinking water and wastewater systems. During the planning phase system alternatives and their estimated associated costs will be presented to the Boonville Planners, our citizen advisory group. The estimates will include the cost of the planning, design, environmental documentation, construction and construction management efforts. Estimates of the amount each parcel will be charged to hook up and the associated monthly service charge will be presented for the preferred alternative. A rate study by Rural Community Assistance Corp (RCAC) will examine the cost per home for ongoing operations and maintenance.


Will it be affordable? :

      The chosen option MUST be deemed affordable in the view of the State before they would commit further funds to build it. The State uses an affordability formula that considers the debt service each household will be responsible for and the estimate monthly bill for service.


Who would pay for it? :

      Grants are available for construction in addition to planning. Since the the area is designated as "disadvantaged" based on the most recent census data, a significant portion of the capital costs could be covered by grants. Property owners should however anticipate being responsible for the cost to connect to a utility (typically the work on their side of the property line). After project implementation, operating costs would be derived from ratepayer fees. There will be no cost to property owners located outside of the projected service zone(s). Property owners within the zone may be responsible for some costs even if they elect not to hook up.


How will the loan financing work? :

      At this time, given Boonville's rating (severely economically depressed), the State will cover 75% of our construction costs. The State will consider the final percentage of their subsidy based on their "affordability" formula.


Will property taxes increase? :

      According to Penny Mahaffey (3-2-16) at the county assessor's office, there would be no automatic increase in the assessed values of properties due to the availability of water or wastewater hookups since properties are already assumed to have water and wastewater systems available (via wells and septic systems).





      Administrative Questions :

Who would administer the system/s? How would that work? :

      The AVCSD would be the administrator and operator of the system(s). The service areas for water and/or wastewater systems would would lie within current AV Community Service District boundaries.


Would the AVCSD need to acquire more powers in order to provide water and/or wastewater services? :

      Yes, the AVCSD would need to apply to the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) to activate powers for Water and Sewer. The District already has those latent powers.





Related Documents

Mendocino County Planning Dept Analysis, Oct 2015

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Boonville Parcel Map, 2010 General Plan

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Public Health Survey 1974

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Anderson Valley Groundwater Basin

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Action Items from Mendocino County General Plan 2009

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Boonville Planners

Meeting Notes Jan 12, 2016

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Summary of Alpha Labs testing March, 2016

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May 2017 Drinking Water Proposal

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