Water Companies Closer to Emergency MOU

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

March 14, 2024

Progress continues to be made by a private Los Osos water company to secure some backup help in case of emergency from its bigger brother the Community Services District.

LOCSD Directors approved in concept entering into a contract with the S&T Mutual Water Company, which serves the Sunset Terrace neighborhood on the western edge of Los Osos.

Back in 2022, S&T contacted the CSD about building an “intertie” pipeline connecting its water distribution system with the CSD’s to make drinking water available to its members should its system go down.

S&T Mutual lies entirely within the CSD’s jurisdiction and receives other CSD services like fire protection, so extending the water system wasn’t much of a problem, but how to pay for it is the issue.

“In June 2023,” reads a LOCSD report, “the [LOCSD] Board conceptually approved S&T’s financial participation in the District’s Program C Well Project to compliment the intertie project.”

That Program C Well is getting close to completion. LOCSD General Manager Ron Munds told Estero Bay News that they’ve drilled the well and completed the pipeline and are now awaiting the final phase. 

“The final phase,” Munds explained, “is constructing a building to secure the electrical and piping components to pump the water from the well into the conveyance system. 

“That’s proving to be a little more challenging since supply chain issues are still plaguing the electrical industry.”

Everything is ready to go. “We’ve awarded the contract, and some work will proceed,” Munds said, “but it will be a waiting game on some of the electrical components needed to complete the project.”

The details of a future agreement are being worked out, according to the CSD report, including what types of emergencies might the CSD help with, how they can do so and even the type of arrangement they might enter. 

“The actual form of any agreement is yet to be determined,” the CSD report said, “but could be a Memorandum of Understanding or actual contract for service. S&T fully understands that the cost for services would be consistent with full cost recovery plus administrative overhead.”

An MOU is what S&T asked for. In a submittal to the CSD Board, S&T said it was “now requesting that a Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] be considered by the Board to allow for LOCSD Operations to respond to emergencies in the event that S&T has too few personnel or are not available to do so.”

S&T also asked to utilize the CSD’s maintenance staff and equipment to help maintain the 26 main valves in its water distribution system, a regular job that normally takes about 2 days to complete depending on what needs to be done.

“This work,” S&T’s letter said, “would also aid the LOCSD in becoming familiar with S&T’s system components in the event that an emergency shutdown using these valves is very needed.”

LOCSD staff recommended using the normal rate card it charges anyone for doing any work outside of its responsibility. “Staff would propose using the District’s cost recovery charges for work outside of normal operating procedures, which includes salary and benefits for staff, overtime rates, equipment use rates, materials cost and administrative overhead.”

It should be noted that the two agencies have long had a handshake sort of relationship with regards to emergencies. “There has been an informal mutual aid understanding between the two parties in the event there was emergency circumstance that the District could aid in. To date, there has not been any request for assistance.”

The CSD is expected to now firm up the agreement between the two, which will have to be approved by S&T and then the CSD Board. After that, would come the actual intertie pipeline project.

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