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New treatment plant might go out to bid in September

The American Valley Community Services District Board of Directors began the new calendar year with a much smaller board.

Instead of the 10 members originally on the board, through consolidation efforts and election dates, the size has now dropped to just five. As terms expired, four directors chose not to seek re-election.

Director Mike Beatty was sworn in to once again serve as a member.

Beatty remained on the board through a certificate of appointment in lieu of election. His new term officially started Dec. 6, but directors did not meet that month.

Other members remaining on the board include Bill Martin, Ruth Jackson, Kathy Felker and Denny Churchill. Those no longer on the board include Darryl Brown, Doug Ely, Kim Kraul and John Kolb. Dick Castaldini retired from the board last year.

The Thursday, Jan. 9, meeting also started out with the election of officers. Churchill will once again serve as president of the board. Martin was chosen as the new vice president. Beatty, who had served as vice president since the inception of the newly reorganized district, nominated Martin to serve in his place.

Push toward new plant

Although it’s uncertain if AVCSD can meet the deadline, new treatment plant bids could begin by September, according to General Manager Jim Doohan.

Beatty said he wanted to give the public some sort of timeline about when construction might begin.

“We’re on a very, very, very tight schedule to meet deadlines,” explained Business Manager Katie Nunn. But she agreed with Doohan that it’s management’s intent to go to bid this year.

“I think it’s a two season project,” she added about actual building. It’s a weather-dependent project, she reminded directors, and could slow or speed up depending on rain, snow and other environmental factors.

Following the meeting Doohan explained that the wastewater treatment plant design is only 50 percent complete.

Originally the California State Water Resources Control Board awarded AVCSD $6 million and another $3 million came from USDA toward the new wastewater treatment plant. At that time the new plant was estimated to cost $26 million. That amount has now increased to $35 million, Doohan explained.

Directors know that amount is far short of what is actually required, but the USDA won’t revisit the grant amount until bids are in and it’s evident that more funding is necessary, Nunn stated. “It seems backwards but that’s the way it is,” she said.

Doohan said once bids are in, the USDA is willing to loan AVCSD money and that is at a very low interest rate.

Grant funding was initially awarded from Assembly Bill 1471 that set aside $7.5 billion in general obligation bonds to fund new water treatment, including surface and groundwater storage, ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration, and drinking water protection. Programs were placed under the State Water Resources Control Board.

To meet state requirements directors from two former districts decided to consolidate resources and formed the AVCSD. The two former districts, East Quincy Services District and Quincy Community Services District, are now known as East Zone and West Zone. There is now one board. Business is conducted out of the former QCSD facility. Directors meet at the former EQSD facility.

The new wastewater treatment plant will replace the existing facility in the West Zone.

Surplus property consideration

In a move to possibly sell land known as the Industrial Way property, directors met in closed session to decide on another step toward that goal.

Churchill announced following the closed session that they were going to have the parcel surveyed. Beyond that directors have not made further decisions.

The parcel is 4.22 acres and was purchased by EQSD in 2002 for $18,400.

Local resident Judy Lambert came prepared with a list of questions for directors concerning the land. Lambert already owns land near the site and has expressed interest in purchasing it at other meetings.

Among some of the questions, Lambert asked about a well that is on site and zoning. The location is currently zoned agriculture preserve, which doesn’t apply to the services district. Churchill said that the existing parcel is really too small to be considered ag preserve, but that zoning consideration would be up to the new landowner.

Lambert also asked if directors would take the land through the bid process. Attorney Josh Nelson said that the board has not made that determination at this time. He did think it would be open to bid.

The parcel has already been offered to nonprofit entities, including the county, for consideration. This process is required by law. No one was interested.

Lambert then said that since the district is always looking for funds, directors might take a page from the Meadow Valley Fire Department. “It was built on aluminum cans,” she said about their new fire department.

Martin was immediately confused about what Lambert meant. He thought she meant that crushed cans were under the building’s foundation.  Lambert helped clear the misunderstanding and added that it was just a “suggestion for you guys to kick around the block.”

Nelson said someone from the board would let her know when they had reached more decisions about the parcel.

New company wanted

Unhappy with the quality of work seen by the Suez water tank cleaning and assessment business, Doohan decided to seek bids from that company and others, he told directors.

Doohan said the company AVCSD was working with was to inspect and repair the Boyle water tank. Instead of doing an inspection of the interior tank using a diver or by hand the company used a drone. The cost of that contract was $45,000 and Doohan wasn’t satisfied with the inspection results.

“Are we going to restrict to human inspection?” Martin asked Doohan about bid requests.

Doohan further explained that the company representative said they would give AVCSD a discount for using a drone, but then they charged the full price.

Every year AVCSD “drops” one of its water tanks so that it can be drained, cleaned, fixed as necessary, painted and anything else that needs to be done. Whatever contractor is hired for the job is completely in charge of everything for the tank, Doohan explained. The Goodwin water tank is scheduled for such maintenance in 2020.

Doohan agreed with other directors that a new contract must be specific. Inspections must be done by a human. An underwater drone is not sufficient, Churchill added.

Doohan said they flew a new request for contractors and some new bids were coming in. Directors approved Doohan’s request to hire a new contractor “subject to the provision to protect us from this ever happening to us again,” Felker said about drone use.

Inspecting one of the sample requests for proposals, Felker asked why there was wording about Iran contracting.

Nelson responded that it was part of the limitations of contracting or subcontracting with the country of Iran. “We can’t do any business with Iran,” Nelson explained.

RFPs include this language as required by California Public Contract Code. Within RFPs, bidders must specify under penalty of perjury that the persons and entities are not engaging in investment activities in Iran.

The United States has imposed an arms ban and an almost total economic embargo on Iran that includes sanctions on companies doing business with Iran. This was originally imposed under the Obama and Bush administrations. New sanctions have just been imposed by the Trump administration.

Tobacco use

Directors finalized their policy restricting tobacco use during work.

Smoking areas have been set up, according to Doohan.

The final question concerned the use of spit bottles for employees who use chewing tobacco products.

Requiring a regulation about the use of “chew bottles” in district buildings or vehicles comes “down to common decency,” said Beatty.

Directors agreed that at this time the policy will not include language prohibiting chew bottle use, but that will change should it become an issue.

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