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BEAUMONT: City Postpones Fee Vote, Will Look into Taking over Water District

After a lengthy discussion on how to pay for a new addition to the city's wastewater treatment plant, the city council decided to look into taking over the Beaumont Cherry Valley Water District.

After the city council pushed the a vote on a $60.2 million fee to fund a new salt mitigation facility back two weeks, Mayor Roger Berg requested that the city attorney prepare a report on the possibility of the city taking over the Beaumont Cherry Valley Water District.

Frustrations were evident at Tuesday's council meeting which saw a lively discussion about how to pay for the facility, which would remove salt from recycled water as required by the State Regional Water Quality Control Board. A staff report had recommended that 64% of the total cost be funded through a salt mitigation facility fee and and the remainder of the cost would come from service charges, grants and loans, according to the staff report. The study recommends that a fee of $1,683.69 per new home or equivalent building be passed on to developers.

During the public comments, Bill Blankenship, CEO of the Riverside County Building Industry Association, urged the city to seek out alternatives to a desalter and engage in discussions with the water district.

"I'm asking the council to give us the opportunity to work with your staff and to go ask the local water district how we can do this together," said Blankenship.

Berg acknowledged that the problem with salt mitigation has to be resolved but voiced concern with developers and the city footing the bill for the facilities.

"I'm tired of the water district not doing their job, they should be taking care of this," he said. "If they're not going to do their job, maybe we have to do it for them, because I'm really concerned about this salt mitigation. I don't think it's fair upon the developers to have to pay for a lot of it."

Berg said the city, among other ideas, wanted to import clean water, but they've received no cooperation from the water district or Pass water agency.

"They should be doing their job, and we should not be the only one holding this problem here," said Berg.

Eric Fraser, general manager of the Beaumont Cherry Valley Water District, called Berg's claims "false and unsubstantiated" in a phone interview on Wednesday.

"The city's idea was to take the sewage discharge and redirect it up to the pristine part of the aquifer, and try to require rate payers to buy several thousand feet of imported water to mix with that sewage discharge and try to blend out the salts," said Fraser. "The scheme to move the discharge point up to the highest portion of the aquifer into noble creek, near Brookside Avenue, would simply create a point source of pollution that would impact the whole aquifer."

Throughout the meeting, Mayor ProTem David Castaldo expressed frustration with the lack of communication with the water district.

"Lets finally call a joint meeting with the water district and see if they show up," said Castaldo. "And lets try to make one last ditch effort to try to work out something."

City staff was asked to conduct a workshop prior to the vote at the Sept. 4 meeting. Berg wrapped up the discussion by asking City Attorney Joe Aklufi to bring back a report on the possibilities of taking over the water district.

"I intend to represent the citizens of Beaumont," said Berg. "I do not think they're being represented by the water district and if it takes the City of Beaumont to take them over and that's what we need to do, then that's what we'll do. We have ability to do something."

Fraser pointed to other cities who have taken over

"Their desire to take over the water district is to try and facilitate some of those grandiose schemes that would have severe rate impacts to the rate payer," he said. "Also, their desire to take over the water district is coupled with a desire to make the water district a source of funds for the city. If you look at the cities of Rialto or Colton, where they have escalated water rates to facilitate transfers to the cities general fund, the rate payer ends up paying inflated rates for the services they receive. As a special district we only do one thing, we provide water to the rate payers and we do that at a cost that's commensurate with the cost to provide service."

Both the city and the water district agree that a solution needs to be hashed out, or fines will be coming down from the State Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Very concerned August 23, 2012 at 02:03 AM
If its Beaumont's sewage plant they should pay for it. If it is joint owned with a water district both should pay for it. So Beaumont dumps their sewage right into the aquifer?
Rk August 23, 2012 at 02:03 AM
The city of Beaumont doesn't think it's fair upon the developers to have to pay for a lot of it???? These guys in the Beaumont city council are a joke. They should be tossed in jail and or fined, oppss one already had been fined. How about the city of Beaumont gets taken over by Riverside County???? I like that idea much better.
Sally August 23, 2012 at 04:24 AM
What right do they have to take over the water district? Its Beaumont's City owned wastewater facility, isn't it? The clean water they produce from it will make them a profit when they sell it to the water district, or it will go into the basin to their credit to be pumped out later. What legal basis can they possibly come up with for a hostile takeover? They keep claiming the water district isn't working with them, but it was Beaumont who snubbed their noses at everyone else and made their own proposal to the Regional Board about replenishing the basin, while the water district did work together with with Banning, Yucaipa, and the Pass Agency. Beaumont's proposal would have polluted the basin, and was thoroughly rejected by the Regional Board, which told THEM to go join forces with the other agencies, which makes Beaumont the hypocrite. They keep saying they care about water quality but their proposal was just to dump waste right into the basin. Plus what nerve, they didn't share any of their profits from development but want to share the costs, again, hypocrites. The developers make big bucks but they want to give them a pass and instead stick it to the residents as usual. Beaumont's council must be all liberal/progressives, for all they do is tax, and fee, and surcharge everyone until they end up not affording their homes anymore. What's the mayor's name again, Jerry Brown?
Inside Informer August 23, 2012 at 01:35 PM
First of all, let me say that I'm impressed with everyone's knowledge of what has been going on for the last couple of years. Yep - Even the SWRCB told Beaumont to get with the program and participate in the basin plan. But no, Beaumont still refused. Talk about reaping what you sow... The Beaumont plan was the attempt to "cheat" I mentioned in the first article. The whole purpose of the salt mitigation order was to reduce the total amount of salt, aka Total Dissolved Solids, discharged. Their plan, as mentioned, was to blend their discharge with imported lower TDS water and be able to pat their hands and say "see, it's a lower % TDS we're putting back in the aquifer". Well, that does nothing to reduce the total amount or pounds of TDS being put back in and the SWRCB called them on it.
Inside Informer August 23, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Copied over from the initial $60.2 million plant article. "Judy is right - Beaumont was invited to go in on the new leg of the brine line Yucaipa built that connects in San Bernardino. Yucaipa had planned to size the pipeline big enough for both districts to discharge their brine into, but Beaumont backed out. Now Beaumont is essentially on their own because Yucaipa was left to foot the bill and sized the line just big enough for their own use. So now Beaumont will not only have to desalt, but will need to take on the extremely expensive process of extracting "zero liquid discharge" salt. Beyond the initial $60 million cost, there is also an estimated $5 million annual operation and maintenance cost. And, it isn't clear if that includes the transport and disposal of the dried salts. (which will probably be taken to Orange County and dumped in the brine line anyway!)"
Inside Informer August 23, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I brought the above comment over to tie together with the above comments... So now its looking like Beaumont is in talks with Yucaipa to BUY their desalted water to recharge the aquifer. And yes, Beaumont would have to build a pipeline over to Yucaipa to buy that water. You can't make this stuff up.
Nancy Gall August 23, 2012 at 01:58 PM
The Beaumont Council is composed of four Republican men and me. I am the only one that has expressed concern about CFD taxes and excessive city regulation. We regulate kids' carwashes for example. Mayor Roger Berg has been touting the twenty year old treatment plant as "state of the art" for months now. But now we "need" to spend sixty million dollars on it. I don't think so.
Judy Bingham August 23, 2012 at 02:36 PM
After years of enduring the unholy 'good old boy" relationship of Chuck Butcher, BCVWD's former General Manager( misuse of public funds /Grand Jury Investigation) and the City of Beaumont's ( Urban Logic) Directors of Planning and Public Works --also in a conflict of interest were Principals of Urban Logic Services (same guys)--- that took over the Waste Water Treatment Plant and profited from that too! It looks like their chickens are finally coming home to roost ! But make no mistake, it will be taxpayers and citizens of Beaumont that will be left holding the bill. These carpetbaggers from Temecula and their partner,City Manager, Alan Kapanicas ( touted by the corrupt city council as some kind of financial genius) will be gone because they have harvested all of our taxpayer money for themselves.
Mrs. C August 23, 2012 at 06:33 PM
State Water Resources Control Board, Santa Ana Region, Kurt Berchtold, executive director---the authority in our area that tells Cities and water agencies what to do about water standards- in the 05/09/12 BCVWD regular meeting agenda there are all the letters and proposals back and forth to the Regional Board about orders to manage the water quality and supply in our area. Beaumont did not work with anyone!! They sent a proposal to the Regional Board and here is direct evidence to the contrary that it is BEAUMONT who isn't working together with anyone. Page 106 Kurt Berchtold of Regional Board "Significant opportunities have been provided over the past year for meaningful participation by the City (Beaumont) in modeling work and discussions with other agencies regarding the development of a new maximum benefit program for the Beaumont GMZ. Board( Regional) staff believes the City(Beaumont) has failed to avail itself of these opportunities." Plus Regional staff said over and over that Beaumont was ignoring water quality standards so they ordered that they had to do this salt mitigation cleanup. The BCVWD, on the other hand worked together in a multi-agency approach, and their proposal (YVWD) was accepted by the Regional Board for it addressed water quality issues. These proposals and letters are on the Regional website, the BCVWD website, and are in the possession of the City and all the other involved agencies. Yet Beaumont is going against ALL documented evidence.......
BMF2012 August 23, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Judy- when and if Kapanicas leaves, don't forget about his ever so generous "package" council voted on. He will make more gone than here. I'm just glad that Beaumont citizens may finally realize they have been getting screwed for years with the four male idiots on council. Let's not forget that they will never leave the money to be paid by developers. Developers and contractors are the ones who fund the councils campaigns.
Mrs. C August 23, 2012 at 06:53 PM
..... and saying they are the victims here. They don't want to pay for this salt mitigation facility that the Regional Board ordered them to do, so they are now passing blame on everyone else trying to make them help foot the bill. How they can complain about water quality after they proposed straight to the Regional Board that they wanted to dump their wastewater without this necessary treatment into the basin is immoral. They were willing to deliberately degrade the basin to avoid paying the costs to clean up their wastewater, while the Water district was working together with other agencies on a proposal that maintained the water quality. BEAUMONT refused to work together with anyone else and is now looking at a $60.2 bill NOW THEY WANT TO WORK TOGETHER surprise
Jackalope August 23, 2012 at 08:51 PM
It is a good time to join Cherry Valley Acres and Neighbors! https://www.facebook.com/groups/256817501088444/
Jeanne Baker August 24, 2012 at 05:56 AM
Something wrong with our City council if they all get so insanely aggressive and borderline violent about what basically is a business deal. Its not normal, and puts Beaumont in a bad light.
Kathy August 27, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Berg left out the part where the Regional Water Quality Control Board would not give Beaumont the authorization to mix their wastewater with imported water in order to get out of paying for this salt mitigation facility. Not the water district- so blaming them makes them liars.

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