Infrastructure Improvement Charge to Help Address ‘Actively Failing’ Water Systems
The Tahoe City Public Utility District is currently considering an infrastructure improvement charge for its water customers to help fund a complete reconstruction of water systems for the Tahoe Cedars (Tahoma) and Madden Creek (Homewood) neighborhoods.
The acquisition by the PUD of Mid-Sierra Water Utility, which operated the neighborhoods’ water systems, happened in January 2018. This is a standard move by TCPUD, which has a long history of purchasing water systems. This one was its most massive increase yet, however, raising the utility district’s water customer base by 30% from 3,800 to 5,500 in one day.
“Part of that rationale [behind such acquisitions] is because they already are sewer customers and the Tahoe City PUD also collects property tax revenue from those customers,” explained General Manager Sean Barclay, later adding, “… We have a 31-square-mile boundary that we serve wastewater collections for. Within that boundary, there are still some customers who are not our water customers.”
The acquisition of Mid-Sierra Water Utility was not the perfect business deal, Barclay said. The PUD was negotiating against at least one for-profit water company for the purchase; many residents of the to-be-acquired neighborhoods were lobbying Mid-Sierra to sell to the PUD; and district staff believed the best outcome would be for the utility district to end up controlling the reins rather than a profit-focused, publicly traded company.
“We think in the long-term interests of the community,” Barclay said, “if we can acquire and consolidate, upgrade the water infrastructure so that it’s essentially operating on one contiguous water system, that our community is better off both from an economy of scope and scale … and also from a water infrastructure for fire suppression perspective.”
That said, TCPUD had to pay more for an asset that was in bad shape — “these systems are actively failing,” Barclay added. Four times more labor hours are being spent in the Tahoe Cedars and Madden Creek neighborhoods than anywhere else in the district because the infrastructure is so dated.
“The fire department can’t even test the water for the fire hydrants in those systems because they’re blowing out holes in the water mains,” said Kim Boyd, TCPUD’s director of strategic affairs. “A majority of those fire hydrants are out of commission at this time.”
The proposed rate increase of TCPUD’s water customers will cover one-third of the total reconstruction cost. Fees paid by water rate payers are required to stay in the PUD’s “water fee bucket.” No money from sewer customers will go toward this project as it’s outside that money’s focus. Property tax money, which is a more flexible bucket for the PUD to pull from, has already and will continue to go toward this project also. TCPUD is also aggressively seeking grant options.
“This is one of the huge benefits to those customers in that area that we bring to the table, is we can share the costs amongst all our rate payers that is different than what a for-profit corporate water company would’ve done,” Barclay said. “They would’ve put all of those costs that were for improvements made in that neighborhood right back on that neighborhood with an 11% rate of return added to it.”
No money from the PUD’s water fees will go toward water infrastructure in the Homewood Mountain Resort development.
On Sept. 19 and 20, two public workshops will be held by staff to review the proposed changes, followed by a public hearing on Oct. 20. For more information on the workshops and rate study, visit tcpud.org/2023-rate-study-infrastructure-improvement-charge.
NV Energy to Continue Work Along Mt. Rose Highway Using Helicopter
NV Energy will be continuing work related to the NV Energy Resilience Corridors Project and the Natural Disaster Protection Plan by removing hazard trees along Mt. Rose Highway near the Mt. Rose Ski Resort beginning on Sept. 18. The work will continue through early October 2023. The work is aimed at protecting the community and NV Energy’s infrastructure from the increased risk of wildfires and other natural disasters.
Due to the location of the work, a helicopter will be used as heavy logging equipment is unable to access the steep and unstable terrain. Beginning Sept. 18, customers and visitors to the area can expect to see the helicopter working overhead. There are no anticipated power outages during this work.
Intermittent closures will be taking place for roads and biking trails around the old lower Atoma building site area, directly across the highway from Mt. Rose Ski Resort. While the helicopters fly overhead and logs are brought up to the old Atoma site from the landing near Galena Creek, intermittent closures will also affect some of the hiking trails in the area. Visitors and drivers in the area can also expect logging truck traffic on Mt. Rose Highway.
Other than the intermittent closures, there are no other anticipated road closures related to this work.
~ NV Energy press release
Building Services Division Going Digital
Placer County’s Community Development Resource Agency is rolling out new technology over the next several months digitizing the building permit process.
The Building Services Division has invested in new technology that will streamline plan review, the permitting process, and even turning those old rolled-up blueprints that have been sitting on an office shelf into online documents. The digital documents can then be taken on site during construction to confirm structures are safe, sustainable, and energy consumption conscious.
The software is called “DigEPlan,” a fully digital approval system that will eventually help Placer County eliminate paper submittals and enhance record-keeping for a more efficient, transparent, and streamlined process for customers.
The process could go something like this:
A customer walks in to the CDRA counter in Auburn or North Lake Tahoe, where staff will use large format scanners to accept paper submittals of plans, even large-format documents, and scan them into the county’s system.
Next, a member of the staff review team will be able to pull those plans up on a multi-screen computer system with a main 50-inch monitor — known as an iPlanTable — for digital review. The system allows for the plans to be marked up with notes for customers and contractors.
Finally, Placer County’s field inspectors will be outfitted with Rugged Tablets made by Dell, which will allow them to pull up approved plans, permits and other documents on site. This will aid the process by reducing lost plans, utilization of incorrect plan versions, and offers access to the permit record to help clarify the project’s scope of work.
In addition, the California Energy Commission awarded the team a grant to implement SolarAPP+, a rooftop solar permitting system. The system will streamline the permit process by accepting and approving rooftop solar permit applications online in as little as one day.
For more information on Placer County Building Services in Placer County, click here.
~ Placer County press release
Sierra Business Council to Administer Cannabis Grant Programs
On Aug. 22, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors approved two contracts with the Sierra Business Council to administer and distribute funds for two cannabis grants that will support the Local Cannabis Equity Program. The equity program will reduce the barriers to entering the regulated cannabis marketplace and support both existing, permitted, and new applicants who may have previously faced social, economic, or negative impacts or other restraints.
The two grants the county has received to support cultivators are the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GOBIZ) Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant and the Department of Cannabis Control’s (DCC) Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant.
The Nevada County Community Development Agency’s Cannabis Division is working in partnership with the Sierra Business Council on development criteria, applications, agreement forms, and application submittal window(s) to distribute funds; program details will be released in fall 2023.
To learn more, please visit the Cannabis Equity Program site: nevadacountyca.gov/3339/cannabis-equity-program.
~ Nevada County press release
Hamilton Legacy Fund Nomination Cycle Closes
Thank you for your overwhelming response to the Jeff Hamilton Legacy Fund. The 2023 nomination cycle is now closed.
Thank you for looking around you, seeing the good, and submitting more than 120 thoughtful, compelling nominations in the categories of music, community impact, trades, medical care, art and performing arts, and Olympic winter athlete.
There exists profound evidence of the commitment, fearlessness, and imagination that permeate this community!
The selection committee, which comprises community members unrelated to the Hamilton family, will announce recipients for the 2023 Juniper Awards on Hamilton’s birthday, Nov. 22. Find out more information at jeffhamiltonlegacyfund.com.
~ Carolyn Hamilton email
Moving In, Moving On, Moving Up
Board Appoints New Head of Health and Human Services Agency
El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has unanimously appointed Olivia Byron-Cooper as the County’s director of Health and Human Services Agency. Byron-Cooper has been interim director for the last nine months.
Byron-Cooper began her career with El Dorado County in 2008 and has held positions as an epidemiologist, program manager, agency quality improvement manager, and director of Public Health before being named interim director. Prior to coming to the county, she received her master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan, worked in the Amazon Basin of Peru, and the Inter-Tribal council in Lac Du Flambeau, Wisconsin, regarding tribal health issues. She received her bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.
The appointment is effective Sept. 23 at a salary of approximately $236,000.
~ El Dorado County press release
What’s New at Palisades Tahoe for 23/24 Season
After two successful years under its new name, Palisades Tahoe is thrilled to announce a host of exciting updates and enhancements for the upcoming 2023/24 winter season.
New in Food & Beverage:
The mid-Mountain Gold Coast Lodge is getting a multi-million dollar makeover that will improve the guest experience and create several new dining options.
Exciting new dining options are coming to Olympic House with the arrival of Oishii Ramen, where Japanese-inspired cuisine meets the mountains.
New in Retail and Rentals:
Roark, the renowned purveyor of adventure and storytelling, has unveiled its latest flagship store in The Village at Palisades Tahoe. Roark offers premium clothing and gear designed to inspire travel and outlast the elements.
Palisades Tahoe is committed to addressing workforce housing needs. The resort acquired two properties, the Tahoe Vistana Inn in Tahoe Vista and a multi-unit property in Kings Beach, to provide housing options for team members. Palisades Tahoe is actively working to ease housing challenges in a competitive market.
New on Mountain:
After a remarkable 25 years of operation, Palisades Tahoe has replaced the Funitel Haul Rope with a new galvanized rope that spans almost 7 miles. This upgrade follows last year’s successful additions of the Base to Base Gondola and the high-speed six-pack Red Dog lift.
In a commitment to high-quality snow surfaces, the resort has increased its snow-making capabilities by installing five new snow-making machines on the Palisades side near the Exhibition lift. On the Alpine side, the resort has also upgraded its snowmaking infrastructure by adding 2,000 feet of new snowmaking lines.
Palisades Tahoe has also expanded its snowcat fleet by adding five new snowcats and installing four new winch picks across the mountain.
New in Transportation:
For the 23/24 winter season, the operating schedule of the Mountaineer is expanding. Daily service in Olympic Valley and between the two valleys will be extended by 30 minutes until 11 p.m. In Alpine Meadows, operations are adding an extra day and another hour of service, offering service five days a week (Thursday through Monday) until 6 p.m.
The resort is also actively working on a traffic and parking solution set to be revealed this fall.
~ Palisades press release