By Brandon HENSLEY
The Crescenta Valley Water District is trying for something of its own kind of recovery act, as it discussed measures concerning state and federal help from the Station Fire and the floods it endured this past year.
In Tuesday’s board meeting, district engineer David Gould told the board that the district has met with the California Emergency Management Agency, or Cal EMA, and the news regarding financial help was not what CVWD was hoping for.
The District has endured damages to its roads and reservoirs from the Station Fire and storms this season, but Cal EMA will not pay for the District’s damaged pipes or roads if it occurred in between those disaster times.
“They’ll repair or give you money to anything that was pre-disaster, and they’ll help you repair it,” Gould said. “But if you did not maintain something, an example would be a road up to Edmund 2 [Reservoir] that has been cracked over the years and now it’s cracked more …. Cal EMA will not pay for potholes or fixing the road if the road hadn’t been maintained previously.”
Broken valves are not covered by the agency either. Gould said the district has spent $310,000 so far on damages, and said Cal EMA would provide $80,000 to $90,000 maximum.
The District can appeal on the federal level, but that can take up to eight months to process. Gould seemed weary of that idea, and suggested it might be best for the District to concern itself with other matters. He said it is “not worth the staff’s time.”
All of this underlies the current budget problems the District is having, according to Dennis Erdman, CV general manager. Erdman
“I feel confident sitting before the public and telling the public we’ve made the best effort possible to recover monies available through FEMA, and to whatever extent we’re successful, we are, and to whatever extent we’re not, it’s not because we didn’t do a good job,” Erdman said. “It’s because the FEMA rules don’t really favor giving away lots of money. Their rules favor trying to parcel it out as meagerly as they possibly can to get the best community-wide recovery on a disaster.”
Turning to his engineer report, Gould said the conservation level from May 1 to May 22 was 18 percent better than this time last year and 17.8 percent better than the five-year average. Crescenta Valley has taken in 27.6 inches of rain this season, and .13 inches through the first three weeks of May.
A matter was put to rest at the start of the meeting. Customer John Geise was on hand for a concern over his high water bill due to a leak under his home.
“It was a broken sprinkler pipe, and it just happened to be underneath my deck, and it just happened to create water in the low part of my lot, which where the rains drains to,” Geise said. “So I just assumed it had been raining for a week …. It wasn’t like a little leak. It was huge.”
He had requested the District relieve him of some of the high cost, and his wish was granted. Over $1,000 was knocked off the bill. The board acknowledged Geise’s past water usage, which was satisfactory, and complimented him being forthright in this situation.
Director James Bodnar said the situation could have been worse because sometimes in an event like this the customer can blame the water meter, which can put a district in a tough spot. Giese fixed the leak himself and told CV what had happened.
“I’m glad you were honest, and you came forth and you recognized that there was a problem and you fixed the leak, and you knew about it, and I think that’s why the board should take this action to adjust the bill,” Bodnar said.
The next board meeting is scheduled for June 8 at 7 p.m.