Notes from irrigation meeting — August 19, 2015

For those of you who did not attend the meeting, following are the highlights. About 50 people from all three HOAs attended.

Introduction of presenters: Teri Buhl, (moderator), Marcia Kaplan, Bruno Keller

Purpose of meeting — Teri Buhl

  • Inform residents regarding water recycling system
  • Discuss Molzen Corbin Engineering Recommendations Report
  • Present Funding Options
  • Stress importance of participating in October Homework group

First Presentation: Irrigation system–Bruno Keller, RVN participant in committee to review community options

Map of entire Rancho Viejo community (slide) — What is critical to understand is that the use of recycled water is an Interdependent System that requires all communities to cooperate.

  • 10 years of Irrigation Issues–original contract for recycled water was w/SunCorp and then transferred to Univest
  • Over the past 10 years, coordination of volumes, cycling schedules between the North & South experienced many difficulties
  • Spending on improvement has been minimal
  • Different landscaping services contribute to complexity of the system
  • Cost of recycled water significantly higher than fees charged by Ranchland to homeowners; compare w/Santa Fe City fees charged ($1 per 1,000 gallons vs. $3.26)

Technical Information (slides)

Qs & Responses following presentation:

Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) Statistics

Constraints:

  • 2 tandem pumps, high powered are installed but only go off/on, thus pumps can burn up quickly if run continuously,
  • designated days for irrigation – 3 days for South; 2 days for North, but no clocks to monitor schedule
  • limitation of 120,000 gal/day amount
  • La Entrada (LE)-150 house (current)
  • Windmill Ridge (North and South) – 755 home
  • Village 1 & 2 (North)- 330 home
  • Distance & Elevation

Village 1 & 2, North – pressure too much, so frequent breakage of pipes

Windmill Ridge (South) – not enough pressure

MolzenCorbin study:

Recommend 3 pumping stations w/3 holding tanks (one for each community); one 500,000 gal tank at the Waste Water Treatment Plant – constraint pump 120,000 gal/day

Advantage:

-possibly less smell and sediment

-ease of choosing any flow rate of convenience, but the same limitations of 120,000 gal/day

-elimination of cycling of tandem pumps

Could also use much smaller pumps that run all day instead of 2 powerful pumps

Q: What is the life cycle of the pumps, of tank…rehab costs, life cycle of pipes that feed the individual units and the feeders?

Depends on usage and pressure issues; North – the pressure is too high; they have installed pressure reduction pipes and now have much less problems.

Q/Comment: Previous Landscape committee chair suggested 2 solutions: 1-for the utility company…install a drive to control on/off feature of pumps; 2-dredge the pond at the end of each season to remove sediment, install high capacity filter as water enters the pond…

South: because of lower press–install booster pumps at WR4…& clean filters

If effluent cannot be deliver have individual homeowners water their landscape, and employ buffalo tank to water common area….cost $200 a year for each homeowner…

Response Cass Thompson: Pond is a lined pond so can’t be dredged; The direction given to MolzenCorbin was to solve the all the irrigation problems for the entire community

Q: Paul Keaton: We must all agree…who is not agreeing to work together?….

Response: Major interference came from South board members.

Q: Judy Reinhart: How much money has North spent to correct pressure problems? Response: $12-15,000 to install pressure reduction piping.

Qs … Are there any other consumers?

R:Amy Biel school has requested to be put on line.

Q…La Entrada will have more houses that are not currently being counted – 1250 total houses

R: They will be providing effluent that will add water to the system.

Q: John Crawly LE…What areas do the associations water? R: Common areas only, not individual houses. Estate and Conservation lots receive no recycled water. They are responsible for all their landscaping

Q/Comment: Jerry Wells, N…Water should go by acreage.

R: The acreage is basically the same, equal areas for all association common areas

Q: Susan Knight N…Any survey done to determine which of our landscape are xeric?

Deciduous trees take water and are in front of houses. Charlie Brown LE … In LE, tree in front of house is watered by the homeowner.

Q: Jim Johnson S…Is there a job order for maintenance of the filters?

Yes, in the N, in the S … not certain of what is in the contract w/landscaping company

Q: Jessica S…Why does Ranchland want to get out of the business of delivering gray water? Response: Warren Thompson: Ranchland is in the business of processing effluent, not providing gray water. We have done it in the past, and continue to date, but there have been too many problems working with 3 different associations.

Q: Laura Trujuillo—Why would the associations want to be in the recycle business?

Second Presentation: Financial Aspects–Marcia Kaplan

What’s not in the MozenlCorbin Report:

  • Operating cost estimates
  • Maintenance costs estimates
  • Reserve funding estimates
  • Future growth estimates
  • Management structure for all 3 HOAs

Proposal suggested that there be a master HOA to handle irrigation, a superstructure. Questions that occur are: Who would run this superstructure? and what would the developer participation be? What would a joint management agreement look like and much would it cost per year? Who would actually manage the Wastewater treatment plant.

Options:

  • Use no irrigation for common areas.
  • $1.9 million purchase price of proposed system.

How to pay for it? Special assessment? Loan from Ranchland & pay over time? Bank loan? Bond? (County extends its bonding capacity on community financing projects, so bonds are tax free, but they are not backed by county. Bonds are paid through property taxes levied, based on property assessed value. Bonds have additional fixed cost, usually 20% over and above the money needed plus interest, and because attached to property taxes, it means homeowners with higher property value pay more. This is particulary inequitable because Estate lots which have no street scape, would pay the most. Have heard rumors that this is the preferred way to finance, but very costly

  • It might be prudent to hired a financial expert to advise on best way to finance.
  • Explore other options.

Qs & Responses following presentation:

Q: Chris …This is the physical cost going in. What about the cost for deferred maintenances? and it is not an attractive purchase, so there may be additional cost.

Response: Cass Thompson: We don’t know what’s the best way to go. That’s why we would recommend participating in the Homework group.

Comment: Jerry … N The associations are putting away reserve funds for replacements In the N we are putting away $33,000 a year but it is being used for current repairs.

Carl Moore Homework Group facilitator

How the Homework group works:

All residents are invited to participate; dates scheduled for the end of October management will participate along w/residents; through learning, planning, choosing, can make decisions through consensus.

Meetings schedule for last 2 weeks of Oct…1st mtg Sat, the 17th, all are invited. Then those who want to participate in 4-5 small group meetings following

Comment...Homework group can’t decide on this type of issue for the entire community. It is an educational process, not a decision making group.

Q: Marty from LE: What’s the timeline, before the Utility company needs an answer?

Comment: Dick W… S…I thought the Board has the power to take out a loan on our behalf.

Q: Kathy…would this system have any warranty?

Comment:Risks of Not Resolving Irrigation Issues

Systems are aging and failing

Main irrigation pump failure could drive Ranchland to ask for money to replace

Ranchland could stop providing irrigation water

Ranchland already uses irrigation pond water for construction use.

Comment: Bill..Previous developer was using the pond for construction, and we asked that they not continue, and they obliged.

Comment: Larry Peppers N…what would be the problem of converting to potable water,

Bruno slide…

Cost for N $25,000 for irrigation water and repair; .divide by 50 trees equals … (see slide) county code, requires that you put the water into the system…will be much more costly

Comment: Judy…V1&2. We paid for the boulevard, and getting into the bond business, is quite expensive

Q: Chrystal … I’m confused. How does homework group help us get to decision?

Q: Paul…Does this technical solution solve the political problem? 

Response: Warren Thompson: no, must be equitable for all.

Comment: Chris S…There is an undercurrent. But get some other alternatives out. There is a lack of knowledge. The homework group may be able to provide that knowledge to assist the boards make a decision. Once we finance any system, we are married to it.

Comment: RVS Landscape Committee needs to work w/landscape contractor on improved scheduling of irrigation timers, and continue educating residents regarding xeriscaping which is still an issue.

Comment: Charlie B… LE. I am astonished at how quickly these pipes have failed. We don’t have the expertise.

Q: Kathy…Who will operate the WWTP? Q..Who will operate the irrigation system?

Comment: Warren Thompson: It is critical to come up w/an email list for all the HOAs so that information can be sent out in a more cost effective manner than mailings.

Next Steps

  • Develop other operating and equipment options
  • Continue refining cost figures to build an accurate water treatment budget; include operating costs and facility management costs; include long term maintenance budget figure; include detailed reserve funding needs;
  • Develop funding options other than a public bond
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