Zone 7 was formed as a Flood Control district for Alameda County, but as the district grew, Zone 7 took on providing water to Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, and the Dougherty Valley portion of San Ramon. Because of its status as an agency of Alameda County Government, residents of San Ramon who get their water from Zone 7 via the Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) do not have any direct representation on the Zone 7 Board of Directors. By separating from Alameda County, San Ramon residents would be able to vote for and serve on the Zone 7 Board of Directors.
Zone 7 rate increases are passed down from Zone 7 to DSRSD and then to residents of Dougherty Valley. Water quality from Zone 7, which gets its water from the Delta, is not always the best for taste and hardness. Complaints that are made to DSRSD are passed on to Zone 7, which has made improvements. DSRSD has also made improvements, but there are limits on how much could be done.
From a San Ramon perspective, Zone 7's separation from Alameda County is very desirable and even necessary to enable San Ramon voters direct input to this agency.
Alameda County Supervisors have some reservations about this separation. Supervisor Scott Haggerty's Chief of Staff, Dawn Argula, told me in a phone interview that Supervisor Haggerty is concerned about control of sediment and creek erosion without oversight by County Supervisors. The Supervisors want assurances that the independent district would not impose large rate increases.
The meeting Agenda has not been posted online as of the time I'm writing this. Boni Brewer, Public Information Officer for Zone 7, directed me to the the Zone's current Newsletter which lists a presentation by Zone 7 at the upcoming Supervisor's Committee meeting on March 5th.
This meeting was moved from Oakland to Dublin to make it easier for residents of the Tri-Valley to attend. I hope representatives from San Ramon will attend this meeting and especially residents of Dougherty Valley who should not be denied representation on Zone 7 because of not being able to vote in Alameda County elections.
As far as the Supervisors' concern about rate increases, I would expect the opposite. Zone 7 has pointed out that they incur expensive delays by being required to go through Alameda County for approvals in hiring and purchasing, which would not be necessary if they were an independent agency.
There could be other savings by consolidating functions with DSRSD. For example DSRSD created a Special Assessment District to bill San Ramon residents for Zone 7 water. This could be dissolved if Zone 7 became independent form Alameda County. I see Zone 7's separation from Alameda County as a win-win for all concerned.
I was hoping the meeting Agenda would be online before I posted this blog, but so far it isn't. Here's a link to all of the Agendas for the Transportation and Planning Committee to locate the current one as soon as it is posted.