ROSAMOND – Purchase of carryover water, a contract for replacement of asbestos-cement pipes, declaration of surplus property and payment for engineering consultants were main action items at the Dec. 11 Rosamond Community Services District Board regular meeting.
Board members approved purchase of 1,180 acre feet of carryover water – surplus water from a user’s allotment that went unused for the previous year – at a cost not to exceed $420,000. An acre-foot is equal to 326,000 gallons, an average California household uses between one-half and one acre-foot of water per year for indoor and outdoor use.
“As you’re aware, we’ve been negotiating to buy quantities of water to stabilize the effects of adjudication reduction,” said District Manager Steve Perez. “Added to what we have currently, could serve the community, at this point, to almost two years,” said
He added that the final cost could be less than the amount requested, but wanted to avoid the need to call a special meeting for approval of the final price by setting a maximum price.
In the midst of a five-year ramp down period due to a 2015 court settlement, the water will help stabilize supplies. Prior to the settlement, the district was pumping 2,000 acre-feet per year and has been ordered to reduce that amount to 404-acre feet per year by 2023.
The purchase was approved unanimously, with Board Vice President Rick Webb absent.
Director of Public Works John Houghton reported on the planned replacement of large areas of asbestos-concrete piping in some of the older areas of Rosamond. The water lines will be replaced on Oak, Elm and Orange streets, as well as Franklin, Monte Vista and Richfield streets.
Asbestos was added to a variety of building materials to enhance its strength, asbestos-cement pipe was used extensively in the mid-1900s in potable water distribution systems, particularly in the western United States. The lines will be replaced with plastic piping that is more commonly used now.
The board approved accepting a bid of $2.3 million for the project from California Compaction.
“We went out to bid a month ago and we didn’t quite get the bids that we were expecting to get,” said Houghton. “So we reopened the bid process to a non-mandatory meeting, which we got three interested contractors that contacted us by phone.”
At bid opening, only two bids were received, district policy is to get three bids, but it is not mandatory.
“We’ve done our due diligence, we extended the bid process, and we still only got two bidders on the project,” said Houghton. “So it’s staff recommendation that with your consent that we move forward with the project.”
Board again unanimously approved the project, which is expected to take about six months to complete.
The board also unanimously approved declaring its community center at 2645 Diamond Street as surplus property, clearing the way for another organization or government entity to purchase it. The building has not been in use for many years and has become run down.
At one point, the Kern Historical Society was planning to use the building, but discovered the cost of needed repairs would be too expensive for the district.
“Having to jump through the hoops of trying to get it repaired so they can do that has presented a cost that is probably exceeding what the district wants to put into it,” said Perez.
Estimates for repair were in the $50,000 to $70,000 range, he said.
Because the district is a public agency, it has to adhere to labor requirements, such as prevailing wage which drives up the cost and limits the ability for volunteers to do the work.
“It was a total mess from a legal standpoint and all the hoops that have to be done in order to have the community benefit of East Kern Museum,” said Perez.
The first step in the process is for the board to declare it surplus property. It will then be presented to the County of Kern and the Southern Kern Unified School District as well as any low-income housing organization to see if they are interested in using the building. If none of those agencies are interested, the district will have the building appraised for a potential sale.
In other business, the board approved payment of $150,000 to GEI Consultants for engineering services on the Arsenic Consolidation Project.
“This project has been going on prior to my arrival in 2011,” said Perez. “For various reasons, it’s been held up. Partly engineering, partly trying to get approval from the various mutual’s (small water producers.) Each one of them, save maybe one I believe, have a violation of arsenic levels or other constituents.”
GEI have been doing the bulk of the engineering work and are in the final stages, he said.
“The agreements are being finalized currently and will go out any day to the various entities,” said Perez. “All of the financial information needed by the state has been submitted and GEI, the engineering group, is owed about $237,000 for which they haven’t been paid.”
He said the company has been willing to wait for the state reimbursement, but the extended time period has put a strain on company finances.
“This debt is hanging on them and as a smaller company, it’s a significant debt,” said Perez. “They’re not a real small company, but the debt is large and larger than they can continue to carry. They’ve been carrying it for about two years and have requested $150,000 payment not all what’s owed and we will be reimbursed for this as soon s the state funds the project, hopefully within the next couple months. Two or three months at the most, we should have funding for the project.”