The Shasta County Board of Supervisors on July 21, 2015 voted unanimously to direct Public Works Department staff to prepare preliminary applications for water use efficiency loans and grants for four county service areas, beginning with Jones Valley and French Gulch. The cost for preparing the applications will be billed to the service area’s existing fund balances, but some of the costs would be reimbursed if the service area is awarded a grant to cover part of the project’s expenses.
Public Works Director Pat Minturn explained that water use efficiency grants and loans would be available to low-income communities under Proposition 1, a water bond approved by state voters last November. The percentage of a project funded by a grant will be determined by the median household income of the area served. He said he thought that French Gulch would qualify for a 100 percent grant as a Severely Disadvantaged Community, while Jones Valley would qualify for between 65 and 80 percent. Minturn also cautioned that the State Water Board had not yet issued the rules and guidelines for Proposition 1 applications, so “we have no target to shoot at yet.”
Jones Valley Community Advisory Board (CAB) member Roy Vincent reminded the Supervisors that the Jones Valley water system had a 42 percent water loss last year that amounted to 18 million gallons and urged them not only to approve applying for grants and loans but to pursue grants aggressively and “fast-track” the process.
Supervisor Les Baugh pointed out that Jones Valley water customers had voted 85 to 46 against increasing their water rates to reduce the water loss. He asked Vincent if he thought they would support a water efficiency project if part of the funding came from a loan that would need to be repaid by CSA #6 customers. Vincent said he thought customers would support it if they had the necessary facts, such as how much the current water losses are costing them vs. the cost to reduce the loss.
Board Chairman Leonard Moty asked Minturn if the Public Works Department was going to make a presentation to the Jones Valley CAB to garner their support for the application process and the expenses involved. Minturn replied that the Jones Valley CAB had been “pushing for this for a long time,” but he would advise them of the costs to CSA #6 and halt the application process if they opposed it.
In other business at the same meeting the Board of Supervisors approved a rate increase for County Service Area # 6—Jones Valley Water to pay for water purchased from the McConnell Foundation to replace water usually purchased from the Bureau of Reclamation which is unavailable due to the drought. The rate increase will go into effect on September 1st.