The Garberville Sanitary District board of directors decided to move forward with replacement of the leaking Alderpoint Road storage tank and they appointed Doug Bryan to fill one of the two vacant board seats at their monthly meeting last Tuesday, Feb. 25.

Bryan is a Garberville resident, one of the new owners of the Woodrose Cafe, and a firefighter with the Garberville Fire Protection District. He is also a voting member of the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council and treasurer of the Southern Humboldt Fire Chiefs Association.

After his appointment was unanimously approved at the end of the meeting, Bryan was welcomed by the three current board members. He will be sworn in and take his seat at the next board meeting.

The board also met and talked with a candidate for the position of general manager in closed session but did not make a final decision. "The board has entered into negotiations with their number-one candidate," GSD business manager Tina Stillwell told the Redwood Times after the meeting.

More details will be forthcoming when the decision is made.

Last year GSD began considering replacement of the 30,000-gallon drinking water storage tank on Alderpoint Road, which has been leaking at the rate of six gallons per minute, according to operations manager Ron Copenhafer.

GSD has five years to complete replacement of the tank in order to remain in compliance with state regulations. The board initially decided to take some time to find grant funding to assist with the cost and to hire a general manager to take charge of the process.

But drought conditions and the likelihood of water shortages this year make the project more urgent.

On Feb. 19 GSD's construction project inspector, Dennis Ryan, and Mike Veach from SHN Engineering inspected the area around the Alderpoint tank to determine the feasibility of installing temporary storage tanks.

They concluded that there is enough room for two or three 10,000-gallon temporary tanks that could be used to store water while the existing tank is taken out of service and a new steel tank installed so that water service to the 66 residences that rely on the Alderpoint Road tank continues.

The temporary tanks could be borrowed or leased from the city of Fortuna but cannot be used for long-term storage, even if Fortuna were willing to sell them.

The board discussed installing a liner in the existing Alderpoint tank rather than replacing it with a larger steel tank. This alternative would cost only $30,000, but would last only 10 years at best, said Copenhafer.

Copenhafer also pointed out that the effectiveness and durability of the liner depends upon the condition of the tank, which is impossible to determine until it is in place.

The tank is leaking from the bottom and it stands above the ground on beams, conditions not conducive to reliance on a liner.

While CDPH currently has no funding available for this project, the agency's representatives have indicated that because of the drought they are expecting assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other sources for projects tied to water conservation, project manager Jennie Short told the board.

GSD can also borrow the funds needed from the Redwood Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), a nonprofit corporation based in Sacramento, Short said. RCAC provided a bridge loan for the drinking water treatment project, which was used to pay the engineering and construction expenses while waiting for reimbursement from CDPH.

GSD would pay 5.5 percent interest on an RCAC loan, approximately $73,000. But the cost of preparing the environmental and engineering documentation required by CDPH, as well as delays caused by the lengthy application process, makes borrowing the money a better option for such a relatively small project, Short explained.

Board treasurer Bill Stewart agreed, saying the board should go ahead with permanent replacement of the tank "on our own dime." They can apply for public funding if and when it is available and use the grant to pay their loan to RCAC. 

After brief discussion the board approved a motion authorizing board chair Rio Anderson to sign the contract with SHN to prepare bid documents for the project, as well as to seek both the RCAC loan and CDPH grant funds.

In the meantime, progress on the drinking water treatment project has been "generally good," Short reported, although the contractors are somewhat behind schedule because of problems getting electrical components in a timely way.

She provided the board with a detailed written report and pictures of the operations building and the filtration system. The metal building has been completely erected and the interior framing has been built. The next steps include installing exterior and interior plumping, lab cabinetry, and components of the treatment system that will be installed inside the building.

Financially, the good news was that GSD has finally begun receiving reimbursement payments from CDPH. The first two payments were used to pay off the RCAC loan and reimburse the district for money drawn from its reserves to pay SHN.

About $338,000 remains from these payments and can be used for future expenses from GSD's bank account rather than from the RCAC loan.

More payments to cover continuing expenses should be coming from CDPH in March and April.

District staff discovered that the Tobin well pump was pumping only 25 gallons per minute (gpm) instead of the 45 gpm expected, based on tests done when the project was designed. The essential but tricky process of switching over from the old treatment plant to the new one depends upon the maximum flow to the Tobin well.

It will cost an estimated $50,000 to replace the single pump with a duplex pump system - two pumps that can be used either alternately or together, depending on demand, which Copenhafer recommended. The board approved this recommendation.

The board briefly consulted by telephone with GSD's attorney, Russell Gans, regarding ethics training.

California law requires all elected officials to take and pass a two-hour course in ethics every two years. Gans was concerned that not all the board members were in compliance. They have the option of either taking the course and a test online or attending a training that will be held by the city of Rio Dell some time this spring.

Board member Linda Brodersen said she had already taken the course online and passed the test, although she had not yet received her certificate. Anderson and Stewart said they would probably take the course online as well.

The next meeting of the GSD board is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25, beginning at 5 p.m. in the district office at the south end of Garberville near Sentry Market.

For more information, see GSD's website, www.garbervillesd.org, or call the office during business hours at 923-9566.