Will Fresno’s small drinking water systems connect to the city? – GV Wire



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State drinking water officials quietly targeted a dozen small, underprivileged water supply systems in Fresno for possible help. But it could still take up to three years to complete the paperwork and start putting pipes in the ground.

“It takes a long time, years, to go from concept to actually starting construction,” said Sue Ruiz, senior community development specialist at nonprofit Self-Help Enterprises.

The State Water Resources Control Board commissioned a feasibility study through the California Water Institute at Fresno State University to get a first look at what it would take to integrate small systems into the water system. much larger drinking water in the city of Fresno.

The state paid $ 90,000 for the study, which was completed in 2020.

This first step allows “… the National Water Office to provide useful information to small water networks so that they can discuss in full knowledge of the facts whether they want to move forward or not. A spokesperson for the National Water Board wrote in an email.

Mobile homes, schools and other systems services

Systems studied include Del Oro Water Company-Metro District; Community of Elm Court; Country View Center Alzheimer; Sunnyside Convalescent Hospital; Sunset West Community; Green Acres, New Horizons, Woodward Bluffs and Three Palms mobile home parks; and the elementary schools of Roosevelt, Lone Star and Madison.

The National Water Board chose Fresno for the study because the city has expressed its willingness to shore up underprivileged systems, according to the National Water Board spokesperson. He also conducted a study in Coachella Valley and plans to target more areas statewide where there are consolidation opportunities.

The Fresno systems are all underprivileged and suffer from various water issues. One of the major problems is that most systems have only one well and no back-up water source.

“If you are on a private well and the electricity is cut off, how are you going to pump water from your well? Said Laura Ramos of the California Water Institute. “Or if there is a plume of contamination above recommended levels, what is your backup source of drinking water?” “

“If you are on a private well and the electricity is cut off, how are you going to pump water from your well? Or if there is a plume of contamination that exceeds recommended levels, what is your backup source of drinking water? “ – Laura Ramos, California Water Institute

The study analyzed each system and examined whether it was technically and financially feasible for the systems to consolidate with Fresno.

There was a long list of considerations for each system, Ramos said. Researchers had to examine how close each system was to a water pipe, where the existing pipes were, how many people are served by each system, pipe costs, annual and monthly costs, and future growth. from the city.

Feasible for the 12 systems to be consolidated with City

The study found that all 12 systems could be consolidated with Fresno and that the National Water Board had enough money in planning and construction grants to fund all consolidations.

This opened the door to sensitizing the 12 communities.

Fresno State, the National Water Board, City of Fresno, and self-help companies all began contacting the 12 communities after the study was completed.

“We wanted to make sure they had answered all of their questions,” Ramos said. “We wanted to make sure they understood the process, they understood the potential funding available.”

Nine of the communities have decided to continue consolidation. Country View Alzheimer Center, Sunnyside Convalescent Hospital, and Sunset West Community are not participating.

Among the participating systems, most do not have urgent concerns at the moment but wish to consolidate for long term stability. Although the 12 communities did not see any wells go dry, no one knows if their wells will remain stable.

“Are they going to be deep enough in 20 years?” Asked Ruiz of Self-Help Enterprise.

Self-help companies helping water systems

Self-Help Enterprises, which partners with the state and administers support to disadvantaged communities in the Central Valley, helps guide all voluntary systems through the consolidation process.

One of the communities, the Three Palms Mobile Home Park, had already started the consolidation process with Self-Help Enterprises in 2019 before being included in the study and submitted its funding request. But even though he started earlier than the others, he is still years away from completion.

Ruiz said it could take up to a year and a half to prepare for the funding request. Then it may take over a year to get state approval for the funding. After that, it may take a few more months to start construction. Ultimately, consolidations typically take several years, Ruiz said.

If the consolidations are approved and funded by the state, the city will be responsible for overseeing the money.

City of Fresno supports consolidation

The city is pushing for consolidation, Michael Carbajal, Fresno’s director of utilities, wrote in an email. And, he took the projects into consideration in his plans.

“The city has already made investments and plans to do more to secure the city’s water supply with these consolidations and expected growth in mind,” Carbajal wrote.

The eight systems that have yet to submit their applications are nearing completion and will likely apply for funding in the coming weeks, Carbajal added.

In addition to the communities included in the state study, Fresno continues to consolidate with three other disadvantaged communities and will continue to seek more, Carbajal said.

About SJV Eau

SJV Water is an independent, non-profit news site dedicated to water coverage in the San Joaquin Valley.

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