Montecito Water District (MWD) General Manager Nick Turner provides an update as the District enters a new water year: October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The 2017-2018 water year presented nearly every challenge a Water District might face: ongoing historic drought conditions, unprecedented climatic events, high-demand for fire protection, infrastructure devastation, disaster response, and community restoration. Amidst all of this, delivering a reliable supply of water at a reasonable cost to our customers continues to be MWD's main focus. Here's an update on important initiatives as we move into the 2019 water year:
Water Supply Overview
MWD continues to evaluate water supply conditions to ensure water supply availability over the three-year planning period. Our three-year water supply planning outlook projects water supply availability through mid-2021. Assumptions include consistent customer demand of ±4,400 Acre Feet per Year (AFY), continuing severe drought conditions, conservation maintained at 30-35%, and annual supplemental water purchases from various agencies across the state. Until local water supply conditions improve, or MWD successfully acquires new local and reliable supplies, we will remain heavily reliant on the State Water Project and its facilities which deliver supplemental water purchases. These sources are projected to constitute ±70% of MWD's supply in 2019. (*See Diagram) Following is a summary of our current water supply position:
MWD remains in sound financial condition despite the extensive damage incurred to its infrastructure following both the December 2017 Thomas Fire and January 9, 2018 debris flows. Board-allocated reserves funded all emergency-related repair work performed during the initial stages of the disaster, which total $2.5-3 million to date. MWD received financial advances from both FEMA and its liability insurance carrier totaling approx. $2.5M to assist with completion of the ongoing permanent repairs, which could total in excess of $5 million. District staff has worked closely with representatives from both FEMA and insurance to prepare the required documentation for project reimbursement and anticipates recovering the full 94% allocation for eligible disaster related expenses. Grant and other funding opportunities are being pursued for remaining costs.
The District's latest 5-yr financial plan, cost of service study and water rates (last reviewed in 2013), are currently in the process of being updated and are expected to be completed in early 2019. Cost assumptions informing the new financial plan, cost of service study and water rates will consider the reduced new norm for water consumption, potential new sources of local reliable water supplies, and the elimination of the existing Water Shortage Emergency surcharge. Progress will be regularly communicated to customers.
This summer we introduced a new bill format and online bill-pay system that provides customers with 24/7 account access and features such as paperless billing and payments by credit card, all at no extra fee. We've received a lot of positive feedback on the new system and hope more customers will sign up.
In closing, I want the Montecito and Summerland communities to know that our thoughts are with them as we approach rainy season. We hope for modest rains, and I can assure you of MWD's ongoing commitment and dedication to service. If you desire any further information on water issues, please contact us.
- Nick Turner, General Manager, Montecito Water District