Boonville Water and Sewer Proposal 2015-2018


Frequently Asked Questions

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      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. In 2016, 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.

Why has the county not done more to enforce, red-tag or condemn properties with failed septic systems? Why are landlords not held accountable for providing potable water? :

      Renter's rights such as potable water are enforced by the State and not the County. The renters need to file a complaint with the State to initiate the investigation and some tenants are unlikely to do so. Shortage of housing is a factor. Known failures of septic systems have been required to be reqaired. Only if a property owner refused to repair the failed septic system would the County consider taking action that may lead to "red tagging" the structure.

Who will be served? :

      The proposed service areas will be identified and presented 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, Meadow Estates and down Anderson Valley Way to the Elementary School. 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? :

      We are currently in the planning process which consists 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, after 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 possible project loans and fund system operations and maintenance.

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

      Only the owners of properties within a proposed utility service area will have the opportunity to vote on any proposed assessment and/or the proposed rates. A majority protest occurs during an assessment proceeding when greater than 50% of the ballots submitted, 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) will 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 and if both are installed the minimum size for a residence will be reduced further. The systems will be designed to continue operating during electrical outages which is critical for the schools and businesses. Fire protection capabilities will be vastly improved likely resulting in lower insurance costs for property owners Property values would be improved as well as public and environmental health.

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 an existing water system (Meadow Estates), it is anticipated that those facilities would be abandoned and not reused.

Fire Suppression: How does a municipal water system help meet the California Fire Code Requirements? :

      The current California Fire Code (CFC) has regulations for most remodels and new construction requiring water designated for fire suppression. Current fire code requires designated on site fire water (hydrants) and fire sprinklers with large storage capacities and delivery capacities. Construction projects and improvements currently need a municipal water source or an independent site source designed for the building and occupancy.

Fire Suppression: How does a municipal water system provide reliable water supply? :

      Water is one of the biggest challenges that our FD faces while battling both structure fires and wildfires. -An average municipal fire hydrant can deliver the same amount of water in under two minutes as a single water tender can deliver in a single load. Normal water tender shuttle times range from 30 minutes to sometimes over an hour in rural areas. -Empirical data has proven that fire sprinklers save lives, keep fire smaller and more manageable, and reduce property loss. Availability of fire protection features like these will provide better protection for our community members, visitors and buildings. -A municipal system would provide a dedicated and reliable fire water supply. Dedicated water storage tanks supplying a gravity fed system would ensure adequate water delivery to fire suppression systems during power outages, which are typical during fire events.

Fire Suppression: How does a municipal water system mitigate current infrastructure water supply deficiencies? :

      The Elementary School, High School and the Health Clinic all have unique firefighting challenges that would benefit from the water supply provided from a fire hydrant. The elementary school has an insufficient water supply, the high school system provides limited supply and the health clinic system is static. Future construction improvements and fire suppression efforts could be difficult with current water supply systems.

Fire Suppression: How does a municipal water system help reduce insurance rates? :

      The Insurance Services Office (ISO) rates all properties in Anderson Valley that are within 1000' of a recognized hydrant (municipal style) at an ISO 5. Most all other areas in the district are rated at an ISO 5Y. The ISO 5 rating significantly reduces property owner's insurance costs once reduced from the ISO 5Y rating.

Fire Suppression: How does a municipal water system help with wildfire water shuttling? :

      Without an adequate water supply, defensive firefighting tactics are used to ensure efficient use of available water. Instead of directly putting the the fire out, the risk of running out of water requires letting an existing fire burn while utilizing the minimal water supply to protect nearby structures and the surrounding wildland areas.

Is drought a factor? :

      A Public water system would be able to maintain more consistent service at a possible lower cost during times of drought. The State only offers monies for drought relief and potable water to public water systems. Private property owners with dry wells do not have access to those types of monetary relief.

      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. It is hoped (fingers crossed) that the State's portion will be higher than 75%. The more the State pays the less the parcel owner pays. If the final amount for the parcel owner is more than the parcel owner can pay in one sum there is a State loan (30 years approximately 1.5%) to cover the balance Then the loan will be serviced on the resident's bill.

Will property taxes increase? :

      According to Mendocino County Assessor's office (Sue Ranochek June 2018), 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 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 and has started discussion with LAFCo about their activation. The process will be completed after the rate schedule has been determined. .

Related Documents

Municipal Water Systems and Public Health Jan 28, 2019


Youtube link to NOP Video Nov 1, 2018, Part I


Youtube link to NOP Video Nov 1, 2018, Part II


NOP Presentation Nov 1, 2018


Notice of Preparation EIR, Oct 2018


CSDA Guide Proposition 218, 2013


Estimated Costs and Funding Sources for Water and Sewer, June, 2018


Proposed Sewer Boundary Aug, 2017


Sewer Disposal at Airport Aug, 2017


Sewer Disposal Asti Field with Spray Aug, 2017


Sewer Disposal Asti Field Subsurface Aug, 2017


Sewer Disposal Subsurface Trenching Aug, 2017


DRAFT Drinking Water Report June, 2017


Mendocino County Planning Dept Analysis, Oct 2015


Boonville Parcel Map, 2010 General Plan


Action Items from Mendocino County General Plan 2009


CRWQCB Monitoring Report for Jeffs Chevron, 2000


CRWQCB Monitoring Report for AV Bus Barn, 2004


Anderson Valley Groundwater Basin


Public Health Survey 1974


Boonville Planners

Jan 29, 2019 Transcript of Meeting


Oct 12, 2017 Scoping Session


May 15, 2017 Drinking Water Proposal


Summary of Alpha Labs testing March, 2016


Meeting Notes Jan 12, 2016