Letters from Board
From: Aldercroft Heights County Water District, Board of Directors
Date: March 28, 2016
Dear AHCWD Neighbors,
The purpose of this letter is to inform you of major changes in our
Business Office. Our long-time Business Manager, Kim Gardner, will
ultimately be leaving our District to move to her new home in Nevada.
Prior to that, she will be resigning her position with us no later than
May 3rd. This will entail a change of address for Aldercroft Heights
County Water District. Effective with the April 1st billings
our new address will be:
ALDERCROFT HEIGHTS COUNTY WATER DISTRICT
P.O. BOX 1700
LOS GATOS, CA 95031-1700
Although our address has changed, we hope to be able to keep the same
phone number if possible. You will, of course, be notified if and when
there is any change.
Kim has been a resident of Aldercroft Heights since 1988. She first
joined AHCWD’s Board of Directors in 1991, later becoming President.
She served in that capacity until 2004, when she stepped down to take
the part-time position of Business Manager. Because of her many years
of involvement with the District, Kim has an excellent historical and in-
depth working knowledge of the AHCWD that will be impossible to
We are all extremely fortunate in that another, somewhat newer
Aldercroft Heights resident has agreed, at very short notice, to become
our Interim Business Manager. Mandy Randall is already in the process
of working alongside Kim to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Kim Gardner for her
many years of service to our community, and at the same time to
welcome Mandy Randall as our Interim Business Manager.
March 30th, 2015
President's Report on progress, an overview, and notice of upcoming elections.
Dear AHCWD neighbors,
This is the time of the year that the AHCWD Board of Directors starts planning for the coming year. We have seen many changes this past year in dealing with the drought. It has also highlighted that the community needs to look at the future of water delivery to our mountain community.
There is no doubt that all of California is having to look at water supply critically. Not only do we face a water shortage, but the infrastructure for storing and delivering water is old and needs work. Our costs to purchase water from San Jose Water Company has gone up 3 times in the past few months and we know that we can expect an increase every year for the next three years. These have already received PUC approval.
The drilling of our well is scheduled to start on March 30th. We will not know what the quality of the water is or how much we an expect to pump from the well until it is completed. However, we know that it is a reservoir of finite capacity and it is expected to be a SECONDARY source and not for our primary water needs. We have a state grant that should cover just over half of the total cost, and we have a request with the State to reallocate the trucking money that was not used to help pay for the other half. At this point we have only verbal commitments for this reallocation of funds.
All of this being said, there are a lot of decisions to be made about where we, as a community should put our future resources in terms of water delivery. Within the next 20 years San Jose Water Company is looking to improve the capacity of the Montevina pipeline in order to serve more customers than it can currently handle. Our own water treatment facility will need replacement in approximately 10-years. And, every year we seem to have additional regulations from the State governing water testing, storage and delivery systems and administration.
The AHCWD Board of Directors has 3 positions with expiring terms at the end of this year. Since we are a government agency, these positions are put on the ballot during the November elections and prospective candidates need to start preparing to declare their intentions (see Elections sidebar on our website for details). I believe it is imperative for the community to have some younger members who have a vested interest in their community’s stability and prosperity become a part of the Board. Many of the decisions facing the board over the next 2 years will affect not only the cost of your water but the reliability of it and the effects that these issues will have on your enjoyment of your home as well as its value in the marketplace. I urge you to consider serving on the AHCWD Water Board of Directors or talk to a neighbor who you think would serve the interests of the community and encourage them to serve. It is a wonderful public service to the community and certainly ensures that you meet a lot of the residents.
I would also like the community to recognize the enormous contribution of the committee that has worked for almost 3 months to develop a fair formula for determining future water rates. Thank you Chris Randall, Dan Knipe, Alyce Green, Gerilynn Botting and Celia Francis.
A special thank you to Kim Gardner, Tyler Boswell, all of the board members and our secretary, Cynthia Bauman for the many long meetings and extra time they have contributed to manage the crises that have resulted from the drought.
March 30th, 2015
Letter regarding proposed new rate structure, March 29th, may be viewed here.
Report on Progress for Drought related issues as reported at the Jan. 27, 2015 Board Meeting
Our Hydrologist has reported that two sites on District property contained a subterranean reservoir of water that could be used as a back up source for the community.
Issues being worked on are:
- Easement rights for access
- Safe passage for drilling rig
- Permit to drill well
- Extension of deadline for grant money if we have setbacks due to weather
- Drilling scheduled for beginning of April depending on condition of access road if it rains
SJ Water and the Department of Drinking Water, formerly the Public Health Department, have been working with the Board on a contingency emergency hookup as an alternative SJ Water source in order to replace the need for trucking. Meetings with SJ Water have given us several pieces of information:
- Their Director of Engineering estimates a hookup to the Montevina Pipeline would cost in the vicinity of one million dollars.
- At this time the Montevina Pipeline is overcommitted. What can be offered to us is only a little more than what we would receive if trucking, and then only under the condition that our sump is no longer able to provide water from Los Gatos Creek.
- The Montevina Pipeline and Treatment Plant are going to be expanded in the future to a more robust water system that we could place into our 20 year plan. However, we would still need to bear the challenging costs of getting lines and easements to the pipeline.
- SJ Water has no interest in taking over our distribution system. Whatever happens in the future, the distribution of water will continue to be the community’s responsibility.
Water rates are going to change. At the January meeting a committee was formed to work out a proposed strategy for future rate structuring. It is composed of 2 Board members and 3 volunteers from our community.
For the current billing cycle (January 20 to February 20, we are temporarily returning to the rates that were used for this year’s budget which began in July 2014. We are hoping that the committee will have a new rate structure to propose at the February board meeting.
The rates now in place for the current billing period of 1/20/- 2/20 are
$111 ($91 senior/disabled) base rate with $25 per each 100 cu ft overage over 400 cu feet
We are monitoring our sump biweekly, thanks to a volunteer neighbor and special access permission from San Jose Water. This will serve to warn us should our water supply from the creek begin to diminish significantly.
New! Online bill payment
You can now pay your AHCWD bill online using PayPal or a Debit/Credit Card (2% transaction fee will be added to cover processing costs. Go to www.aldercroftheightscwd.org .
Although our current rainy weather is a great start to ending the drought, our reservoirs are still very low. The Board has decided to return to 400 cu ft for the base rate to help many in our district that have been suffering with the water rationing (See Financials). If the rain continues, we can keep that level of supply. If it does not, we will need to return to rationing. The District needs to maintain our 20% conservation efforts to remain qualified for the drought emergency grant money. The board is continuing to pursue drilling a well for the district and we would like to be able to have state reimbursement for some of the costs of that project. Over 90% of district customers have stayed at or below the 300 cu ft ration and we commend them for keeping us in the running for state funding. A community well would help ensure the future of our water supply and benefit all of us.
The AHCWD Board
Update on our water situation.
27 Oct. 2014
San Jose Water Co. told us in August that we would not have any water in the creek by Oct. 15.
The following is from San Jose Water Co. on October 14:
"At this point it is unclear how much longer we will be able to maintain flows in the Los Gatos Creek. Currently, we are pumping 1 CFS (0.7 MGD) from the Elsman facility into the creek. It is estimated that there is approximately 55 million gallons of water in the Elsman facility at this time, but it is important to note that this is a rough estimate since we do not have a way to accurately measure the actual volume at this abnormally low level. It is also unclear how much longer additional water can be pumped from the facility going forward. As the water level continues to drop, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain suction for the pump system. As noted in previous messages, we are approaching the mid-October period where it was projected that lower levels were going to present significant uncertainties regarding how much more water might still be available/accessible for release from the Elsman facility.
Much of the water that your sump provides is from subsurface flows. That makes it even more difficult to determine when you sump may actually go dry. As previously discussed, it is strongly suggested that you or your operator continue to monitor the pumping water level in the sump on a regular basis. I would expect that you will begin to see a gradual decline in the pumping water level in the sump as the subsurface flows drop off. From this point forward, the pumping water level in your sump will most likely be the best indicator of when subsurface flows in the creek begin to diminish to a point that may pose a threat to supply for your water system."
Currently our water operator is the only person with SJ Water's permission to enter the land where our sump is located. We have a request in for others to be able to help with monitoring the water level in the sump.
The good news is that we have received a grant from the state to help pay for trucking water. The agreement arrived October 23. The Board’s dilemma is the grant won't pay as long as there is water to be pumped from the creek. There is a delay of 7 to 14 days to get back into the trucking delivery schedule once we notify them of our need. During this time we will be using up our reserve, which is also our fire fighting water.
One of the conditions for our state grant is maintaining our 20% water use reduction. At this point we will need to continue to maintain the present water ration and rates.
Hopefully the rains will come soon and be plentiful.
To: Residents of Aldercroft Heights County Water District
From: Aldercroft Heights County Water District Board
Re: Water situation update and Modified Rate Structure
Emergency Community Meeting September 6th, 2014 recap:
- July we were notified by SJ Water that we had approximately 120-150 days of water left to
- flow from Lake Elsman through LG Creek.
- August we were notified that the water flow is expected to stop in mid October.
- August 26th, we were declared in an emergency situation for water supply by the State of
- California Water Board.
- We asked the community to prepare for rationing as we made plans to truck water.
- Our goals are:
- 1. To keep some water flowing in our system to every household 2. To have water in reserve for firefighting.
- Contingency Plans:
- Short-term: We will have water delivered by trucks to the system. Our tank is plumbed and
- ready to receive our test delivery scheduled the end of September.
- TRUCKING WATER IS PLANNED TO START OCTOBER 15
- Mid-term: We were pursuing the possibility of supplementing our water source from a private well within the District. This is NOT an option anymore.
- Long-term: Drill a well on district property to augment our water supply sources.
- We have applied to receive money set aside by Gov. Brown for drought assistance. Our grant application includes funding to help defray the cost of trucking water through January 2015 and drilling a well.
- Our grant request is in progress and currently waiting for state engineer approval before funding.
- The issues that face us:
- Trucking water is going to be a variable expense. The CA Water Board is predicting the cost per
- truckload will increase as more communities dry up and increase the demand
- Payment for each truckload is due immediately. The grant funding is reimbursed only after we
- have made the payment. This will be very hard on our cash reserves.
- Trucking services are in high demand. Our requests for 300 cu ft per household means
- 4 1⁄2 trucks, 7 days a week. We were on a waiting list for more than a month before we got our
- first trucked delivery.
- Water delivery will be a road hazard on Aldercroft Heights Road and Locust Drive when water
- is delivered. We had hoped deliveries could be made at night, but this is currently not an option.
• As trucked water rates change, we will have to adjust our rate structure.
We have a hydrogeologist that will commence a feasibility study for drilling a well on 2 sites three weeks after the Board authorizes and pays for the study. A company to drill the well has not been identified for the project.
NEW RATE STRUCTURE FOR THIS MONTH ONLY (9/22/14 – 10/20/14)
In order to pay for trucked water and manage keeping water in reserve for firefighting we are initiating the following rate structure effective immediately:
Base rate for 300 cu ft $111 Senior/disabled rate for 300 cu ft $ 91
Overage Tier 1: (after base of 300 cu ft) 301 to 400 cu ft (first 100 cu ft over the base of 300 cu ft)
Overage Tier 2: (after base of 400 cu ft) 401-500 cu ft Overage Tier 3: (after base of 500 cu ft) 501+ cu ft
Example for a regular rate customer:
PLEASE NOTE THIS IS 100 CU FT LESS THAN YOUR CURRENT BASE ALLOTMENT
$1 per cubic ft
$1.50 per cuft $2.00 per cuft
Senior/Disabled rate overages will be the same as above.
Since water costs will be changing as the drought continues, we plan to adjust the rates monthly. We will re-evaluate and readjust billing amounts every month taking in consideration:
1 - The actual cost of water trucked,
2 - Any funding received from the state
3 - Water availability. How much water we can actually get
The Board is acutely aware of the hardships this rationing imposes on our community. We suggest you start keeping a daily usage log so that you will detect any leaks promptly and you will have more ability to control your usage. We know the date the meter is read can affect many customers, so Tyler will attempt to read the meters on a specified day. Practically speaking, this is always a situation of what is the best case scenario. His number one priority is to respond to water losing situations. A bulletin board will be erected on Aldercroft Heights Road by the big eucalyptus tree as well as our board by the green tanks on Aldercroft Heights Road. We will post a sign with the day that Tyler PLANS to read your meters on these boards. If you drive by and see a big “20”, that means that we expect to have the monthly reading on the 20th.
We appreciate all of the input from our neighbors and we are doing our best to make this situation workable for all of us.
Aldercroft Heights County Water District Board
Dear Aldercroft Heights Water Customer,
We are experiencing an unprecedented drought. Our primary water source is Los Gatos Creek which is fed by Lake Elsman. We purchase raw water (which we pump up the mountain to our filter plant before it can be distributed) from a private entity, San Jose Water. We have been in communication with San Jose Water about our future water supply. They estimate that we have about 120 days of water before there will be no water available to flow into Los Gatos Creek. That will bring us to about the middle of November. There are no other water sources to divert to keep the water flowing. Our storage tanks hold about a 30 day supply for our normal usage.
This letter is to notify all residents of the seriousness of the water shortage facing us. The Water Board will be exploring alternative water sources at the next few meetings as we continue to monitor San Jose water’s ability to supply raw water.
A few facts that I think are important for residents to be aware of:
- As of this date, trucking water costs approximately $300 a load. If we trucked in half of your current base amounts (200cu feet per customer) we would need to have 2 truckloads a day.
- Currently there is a 2 week wait once an order is placed
- Prices are expected to go up as more water supplies run dry and the demand increases.
- We have already modified the hydrant at the county road tank to help CAL Fire hook up if needed.
- The new connection will allow a delivery by a water truck. We believe that this tank is the only tank that a truck can get to for water delivery.
- We currently do not have a rate structure to cover the cost of trucking water
- When we do get rain, there will be issues. Even in years of normal rainfall, the water that is pumped into our system has to “settle” before it can be filtered for distribution. If we get large rains (as we hope and need), the available water for distribution may be on hold waiting for a settling that will be dependent on the weather.
We will do our best to keep you informed. Please watch the website and the bulletin board at the county road tank (on Aldercroft Heights Road past Laurel).
Governor Brown has requested a voluntary cutback of 20% in water usage. Our water supply is very low. Rainfall is at 18% of normal for the time of year, a record-breaking low in California history. Lexington Reservoir is at 30% of full capacity. Please exercise restraint with your water usage to help us utilize our diminished water supply wisely. Consider a drip irrigation system if you do extensive outside watering. As always, please report any water leaks you observe around our water system. We appreciate any information that allows us the opportunity to prevent water loss.
A few water conservation tips:
● Shorten your showers by just 5 minutes and save 15 gallons every time.
● Install faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads and save 16 gallons a day.
● Wait for full loads to wash clothes and dishes and save 20 gallons per load.
● Install high-efficiency toilets and save 25 gallons a day.
● Turn off the faucet while shaving or brushing your teeth and save 2 gallons per minute.
● Fix leaks and save 15 gallons or more per day, per leak.
● Place outside watering on a timer or timed system. Control the amount of time watering takes place and the time of day it occurs. Water early in the day or late in the evening to allow more of the water you use to be utilized by the plant.
● AHCWD residents are eligible for Santa Clara Valley Water District rebates and conservation programs. See www.valleywater.org for their current offerings. You can also call their conservation hotline at (408) 630-2554.
The decreased rainfall also leaves our vegetation in an unusually dry state for January. The Smokey the Bear Fire sign in front of CAL FIRE Alma Fire station has been stuck at Fire Danger "High" for months. Presently, the North and East Bay areas are on Red Flag alert, a condition where fire agencies are prohibiting the use of power equipment outside and warning of easy ignition due to wind and vegetation conditions. We are just a windy day away from the same situation here. Please exercise caution when working outdoors. Consider hand-pulling weeds and brush to lessen the possibility of an ignition. If you feel the need to weed whack some brush, or use other power tools such as chain saws, please have an active hose handy so you can douse a fire should one erupt. There have been fires locally already with one Shaded Fuel Break on Beardsley Rd ( like the one prepared along AH Rd) helping to contain the fire. Please report reckless fire behavior to the Sheriff. And also remember, AHCWD has weed wrenches of varying sizes to assist in brush removal. Customers may borrow these at no cost for one-week intervals. These are great for removing scotch broom, which is very flammable. Contact the office for details.
Our annual chipping program, hosted by the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council (SCFSC), is coming again May 10th through the 18th. Please put this on your schedule so you can get your piles in place. SCFSC will again be offering the Community Pile for residents who prefer to move their brush piles offsite or At Home chipping for those homeowners who keep their piles on their own property. For At Home chipping please fill out an application online atwww.sccfiresafe.org/santa-clara-county-fuel-reduction-programs and select the Online Defensible Space Chipping Application. Also, please consider donating to the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council to support chipping programs that reduce hazardous fuel around our homes and communities; all their funding this year comes from local sources. Without your donations , SCFSC programs would not be possible.
The Board of Directors
Aldercroft Heights County Water District