The San Lorenzo Valley Water District Board voted 5-0 to assist the Lompico County Water District by providing technical and contract management assistance for a pair of studies that will help determine the costs to replace tanks and install a connection between the two systems.
The vote came after about an hour of comments from an overflow crowd many of whom identified themselves as Lompico residents. By a margin of about 4 to 1 those who spoke urged the board to proceed with the studies which they hope will eventually lead to the dissolution of the 500 connection Lompico district and a consolidation with their neighbors in the much larger SLV district.
Both districts are public agencies and before any final resolution can occur a number of steps need to be taken. SLVWD board member Jim Rapoza pointed out that any consolidation would require a number of approvals by both boards, Lompico voters, and a variety of regulatory agencies. “It will be a lengthy process, if it happens at all.” he said.
About a half dozen people spoke against the proposal which obligated the LCWD to reimburse the SLVWD for the costs of the studies up to $30,000. The LCWD board voted 3-0 earlier this month to make the request.
Rick Harrington, chair of the LCWD board, expressed his thanks to the SLVWD for considering the proposal and noted that regardless of whether Lompico residents decide a merger is in their best interest or not, the studies are necessary to provide information on the costs facing homeowners to repair the system.
Another Lompico board member, Sherwin Gott, while acknowledging the need for the studies,, opposed accepting the terms of the deal saying that the district can’t afford them. Gott, who was allowed extra time to share his views, also disputed the claims of many in the audience who said the Lompico water was unhealthy. “I drink the water every day. The water is in good shape. We run numerous tests and we are in compliance with at least three quarters of the issues.” he said, holding up a state report which contains a host of actions that district is being required to address.
Long time Lompico board member, Lois Henry, responded to Gott by saying that the district’s finances were actually in “the best shape they had been in in years.” She also pointed out that a majority of the board supported moving forward with the studies and that only Gott was on record in opposition to a potential merger, while a fifth member has remained undecided.
A handful of SLV Water district voters spoke out in favor of the proposal citing the interdependence of the districts with regards to the watershed, streams and aquifer. Some warned of the potential shared risk if insufficient water or pressure affected fire suppression efforts in the region.
5th district supervisor candidate, Eric Hammer, speaking in support of the action, reminded the Lompico residents that their system was under scrutiny by a variety of agencies and they needed to continue to be proactive in addressing the problems or face consequences that could be more costly and unpleasant. He applauded the boards of both districts for their actions in the larger community interest.
Prior to the vote, SLVWD chair Terry Vierra, responded to those Lompico residents who expressed opposition to the motion, by telling them that they should be attending Lompico district meetings and talking to their board members. He reminded them there will be an election in November.