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Archive for the ‘Utilities & Resident Services’ Category

    Yesterday the Moulton Water District Trustees approved a price increase that will step prices up over the next three years.  The action will result in a $20 monthly hike in the average residential bill.  The Santa Margarita District is expected to approve similar increases at its meeting on July 8.

    On June 1 the average Moulton bill will surge from $37 to $43, or 16%.  On June 1 of 2010 and 2011 another $7, and then $8, will be imposed, respectively.  The raises amount to 57% inflation in water rates over the three year period.

    Last month the District also announced water use restrictions effective June 1 as part of its ‘Level 2’ shortage alert.  MV residents can irrigate yards only on Monday, Thursday and Saturday before 10 am or after 5 pm for periods not to exceed 15 minutes.  The rules prohibit washing driveways or other paved surfaces and ban washing vehicles unless by bucket or with a hose equipped with a positive water shut-off nozzle.

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I thought the city administration’s excuses for not rebidding these contracts were lame at best. A three to six months bidding cycle is absurd.

I ran General Procurement for a large aerospace company in Long Beach, Ca. before retirement. These type of service contracts would at most have had a three to four week turnaround cycle time.

The city is losing an opportunity to significantly lower costs—with the ultimate costs being born by the citizens, city employees and the taxpayer.

Joe Holtzman

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moulton-water-crop1    Moulton  Niguel  Water  District is implementing twelve new usage rules for Mission Viejo customers. MNWD attributes the new rules to a Level 2 shortage resulting in declining water supplies from the Metropolitan Water District, its primary supplier. It says the new rules, effective June 1, are also necessary to comply with State conservation guidelines.

    The program is designed to create a 20% decrease in water use. The new rules include a limit on the days and times for watering lawns or landscape. Mission Viejo residents will be limited to Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Following are the new restrictions:

1. Limits on Watering Hours: Watering or irrigation of lawn, landscape or other vegetated area with potable water is prohibited between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on any day, except by use of a hand-held bucket or similar container, a hand-held hose equipped with a positive self-closing water shut-off nozzle or device, or for very short periods of time for the express purpose of adjusting or repairing an irrigation system.

2. Limit on Water Duration: Watering or irrigation of lawn, landscape or other vegetated area with potable water using a landscape irrigation system or watering device that is not continuously attended is limited to no more than 15 minutes watering per day per station. This subsection does not apply to landscape irrigation systems that exclusively use very low-flow irrigation systems where no emitter produces more than two gallons of water per hour.

3. No Excessive Water Flow or Runoff: Watering or irrigation of any lawn, landscape or other vegetated area in a manner that causes or allows potable excessive water flow or runoff onto an adjoining sidewalk, driveway, street, alley, gutter or ditch is prohibited.

4. No Washing Down Hard or Paved Surfaces: Washing down hard or paved surfaces, including but not limited to sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking areas, tennis courts, patios or alleys, is prohibited except when necessary to alleviate safety or sanitary hazards, and then only by use of a hand-held bucket or similar container, a hand-held hose equipped with a positive water shut-off device or a low-volume, high-pressure cleaning machine equipped to recycle any water used.

5. Obligation to Fix Leaks, Breaks or Malfunctions: Excessive use, loss or escape of potable water through breaks, leaks or other malfunctions in the water user’s plumbing or distribution system for any period of time after such escape of water should have reasonably been discovered and corrected and in no event more than five days of receiving notice from the District, is prohibited.

6. Re-circulating Water Required for Water Fountains and Decorative Water Features: Operating a water fountain or other decorative water feature that does not use re-circulated water is prohibited.

7. Limits on Washing Vehicles: Using potable water to wash or clean a vehicle, including but not limited to any automobile, truck, van, bus, motorcycle, boat or trailer, whether motorized or not, is prohibited, except by use of a hand-held bucket or similar container or a hand-held hose equipped with a positive water shut-off nozzle or a low volume power washer with a positive water shut-off nozzle. This subsection does not apply to commercial car washes.

8. Drinking Water Served Upon Request Only: Eating or drinking establishments, including but not limited to a restaurant, hotel, café, cafeteria, bar, club or other public place where food or drinks are sold, served, or offered for sale, are prohibited from providing drinking water to any person unless expressly requested.

9. Commercial Lodging Establishments Must Provide Option to Not Launder Linen Daily: Hotels, motels and other commercial lodging establishments must provide customers the option of not having towels and linen laundered daily. Commercial lodging establishments must prominently display notice of this option in each bathroom using clear and easily understood language.

10. No Installation of Single Pass Cooling Systems: Installation of single pass cooling systems is prohibited in buildings requesting new potable water service.

11. No Installation of Non-re-circulating Water Systems in Commercial Car Wash and Laundry Systems: Installation of non-re-circulating potable water systems is prohibited in new commercial conveyor car wash and new commercial laundry systems.

12. Restaurants Required to Use Water Conserving Dish Wash Spray Valves: Food preparation establishments, such as restaurants or cafes, are prohibited from using nonwater conserving dish wash spray valves.

    More restrictive guidelines will go into effect if the water shortage intensifies.

    Moulton Niguel will consider a proposed rate increase at a hearing on May 26. The hike would add about $6 to the average monthly residential bill.

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    Most residents can’t vote to double their own compensation to offset the effects of a bad economy, but local offiials can.  On Wednesday night water commissioners for the Santa Margarita District doubled their potential stipends, following a recent example by the Mission Viejo City Council.

    The commissioners were receiving $175 per meeting up to 6 meetings per month.  They will now receive $210 per meeting up to 10 meetings per month, which could increase their pay to over $25,000 per year for the part-time, volunteer, elected positions.  The vote was unanimous from commissioners Roger Faubel, Saundra Jacobs, Betty Olson, Charley Wilson, and Bill Lawson. The District phone is 459-6400 and email is  info@smwd.com).  

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    Verizon Technical Support confirmed a serious and extended outage of wireless cell phone service in Orange County on Monday.  The interruption began early in the day and had not been resolved as of midday on Tuesday.  At lease three cellular service providers were affected.

    “It looks like a third party construction company was doing some work and cut a fiber optic line used for various cell towers in the area,” said Ken Muche, media spokesman for Verizon Tuesday at 11 am. “Still tracking down the location of the cut.”   

    A technical specialist at Verizon stated the problem could affect users on an intermittent basis until the optic fiber is fixed.

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    Saturday  is  an opportunity for residents to dispose of televisions, computers, monitors and other household electronics.  The City will partner with CA Recyclers to host an e-waste collection event.

    The e-waste collection event will be held 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot at Newhart Middle School, 25001 Veteran’s Way (corner of La Paz and Veteran’s Way). CA Recyclers will give the school three cents a pound for each pound of e-waste it collects during the day. The event will also help raise funds for the school.

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    Mission Viejo is one of about 130 cities in California known as “contract cities.”  The term denotes cities who contract with private companies for city services instead of providing services such as police, fire, trash and landscaping with municipal employees.  Lake Forest, Laguna Niguel, and San Clemente are other contract cities.

    The creator of the concept, John S. Todd, developed the idea as a way for his community of Lakewood to avoid being annexed by Long Beach in the 1950’s.  It was the only way Lakewood residents could afford to incorporate since they didn’t have the up-front capitalization to create and operate a city.

    John Todd died last Saturday, according to the Times.  He will be remembered as the father of the contract system known as the “Lakewood Plan.”

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