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Zone 7 to present updates on PFAS treatment, water supply, rates to Pleasanton council

Also: More funding for library roof replacement

Zone 7 Water Agency staff are set to update the Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday about its regional groundwater modeling and PFAS contamination, which will serve as foundational information in future council decision-making on water supply issues.

City staff will also seek approval from council to keep the city's wells 5 and 6 offline and to purchase replacement water from Zone 7 until a water supply alternatives study is completed and the council can decide what to do about the city's long-term water supply.

According to the staff report, "Zone 7 has indicated that it can provide the additional water, initially through a short-term arrangement. This cost would be funded by the Zone 7 pass-through to utility ratepayers."

The water agency recently completed a groundwater modeling analysis of the expanding PFAS plume which has been affecting several water pumping wells in Pleasanton and the rest of the Tri-Valley.

The findings from the modeling study were presented to the Zone 7 board on Aug. 31, and Zone 7 General Manager Valerie Pryor will provide this same presentation to the City Council.

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PFAS, formally known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are widely used and long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.

In recent years, city officials have discovered PFAS in the city's groundwater supply facilities -- specifically in the city-maintained wells -- and have been working to address the problem.

Perfluorohexane Sulfonic acid (PFHxS) is one of the specific PFAS chemicals that the state has established health-based notification and response levels for -- Pleasanton's wells 5, 6 and 8 all exceed these levels, according to the report.

The council will also be conducting a public hearing to receive the city's 2022 public health goals report, which found other chemicals like copper and uranium in the drinking water.

As a water purveyor the city must prepare this report every three years, which includes information about water quality components detected in the drinking water and how they relate to state public health goals (PHGs).

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"PHGs are water quality goals established by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment," according to the staff report. "A PHG is the level of chemical constituents in drinking water that does not pose a significant risk to health, and they are not regulatory standards."

According to the report, however, it's sometimes not feasible to set the drinking water standard at the same level as a PHG because the technology required to treat the chemicals might either not be available or would be too expensive.

"In the last three years, PHGs were exceeded for copper and uranium," the staff report reads. "While the potential health protection benefits of treating for copper and uranium are not clear, to install and operate a reverse osmosis system to remove copper and uranium would cost approximately $10.7 million (per year) for the life of the system."

Staff currently do not recommend moving forward with a reverse osmosis system because the city's drinking water currently meets all state drinking water standards, the effectiveness of the reverse osmosis treatment is still uncertain and the health benefits of these potential reductions in copper and uranium are not clear.

The City Council meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 6). Read the full agenda here.

In other business

* Zone 7 staff will be updating the council on the agency's recently updated water rates, which will increase 5.5% per year for the next four years starting on February 1. Pleasanton city staff will provide insight as to how these rate changes will affect residents and businesses.

The council will vote on adopting a resolution to approve the pass-through of these rates.

"City staff values its relationship with the Zone 7 Board and Agency staff, and supports its approach to maintain a balance between controlling costs and increasing water rates reflecting both Zone 7's economic realities and the region's overall financial conditions," according to the staff report.

Water rates are something that the city has no control over as they are set by the water agency and are subject to change every year.

On Nov. 16, the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors approved a multi-year wholesale treated water rate increase schedule for calendar years 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026.

The Zone 7 board will revisit the rate schedules for 2025 and 2026 through a public process and will make any changes to the rates by November 2024.

According to the report, if the Zone 7 water rate increases are approved, there won't just be cost increases to every resident and business in Pleasanton.

The city would also see annual water wholesale cost increases of approximately $3.4 million for water purchased starting in February -- according to the report, the city's budget will be updated during the mid-year review to account for this change.

These increased rate changes will help provide funding for continued participation in water supply reliability projects, covering costs associated with different PFAS treatment projects and the replenishment of Zone 7's Water Enterprise Operations Fund reserves.

* One of the consent calendar items during Tuesday's meeting will be seeking approval to allocate more than $300,000 of additional funding toward the Pleasanton Library roof replacement project.

The roof replacement project, which was meant to address water leaking, was a priority on the City Council capital improvement program's list, which identified projects in the city to allocate funding toward repairs.

Construction started in August and was slated to be finished in late fall, but since then several unforeseen infrastructure issues and water damage were discovered such as the windows not being weatherproofed.

Other issues that need to be addressed are: structural roofing repairs, additional metal flashing and gutters to address concentrated water, a window system change to accommodate seismic bracing, replacement of dry-rotted overhang plywood and miscellaneous wood repairs.

According to the report, the project will now be completed by summer 2023.

"Construction will be delayed between completion of the roof work in December and a spring start for the window work, after the arrival of the gable end windows," the report reads. "A four-week closure of the library to the public will be necessary for the installation of the windows."

The total budget currently being set aside for the project is $2,806,456 but now with the added expenditures the anticipated budget is being projected at $2,996,456, leaving a shortfall of $190,000.

Staff is recommending to move $190,000 from the Capital Facilities Fees Fund to the Library Roof Replacement Project in order to complete funding for this project.

They are also seeking authorization to increase the project contingency amount to $612,000 -- which is an additional $275,000, plus the original $337,000 -- for the unforeseen necessary related work.

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Zone 7 to present updates on PFAS treatment, water supply, rates to Pleasanton council

Also: More funding for library roof replacement

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Dec 5, 2022, 10:35 pm

Zone 7 Water Agency staff are set to update the Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday about its regional groundwater modeling and PFAS contamination, which will serve as foundational information in future council decision-making on water supply issues.

City staff will also seek approval from council to keep the city's wells 5 and 6 offline and to purchase replacement water from Zone 7 until a water supply alternatives study is completed and the council can decide what to do about the city's long-term water supply.

According to the staff report, "Zone 7 has indicated that it can provide the additional water, initially through a short-term arrangement. This cost would be funded by the Zone 7 pass-through to utility ratepayers."

The water agency recently completed a groundwater modeling analysis of the expanding PFAS plume which has been affecting several water pumping wells in Pleasanton and the rest of the Tri-Valley.

The findings from the modeling study were presented to the Zone 7 board on Aug. 31, and Zone 7 General Manager Valerie Pryor will provide this same presentation to the City Council.

PFAS, formally known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are widely used and long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.

In recent years, city officials have discovered PFAS in the city's groundwater supply facilities -- specifically in the city-maintained wells -- and have been working to address the problem.

Perfluorohexane Sulfonic acid (PFHxS) is one of the specific PFAS chemicals that the state has established health-based notification and response levels for -- Pleasanton's wells 5, 6 and 8 all exceed these levels, according to the report.

The council will also be conducting a public hearing to receive the city's 2022 public health goals report, which found other chemicals like copper and uranium in the drinking water.

As a water purveyor the city must prepare this report every three years, which includes information about water quality components detected in the drinking water and how they relate to state public health goals (PHGs).

"PHGs are water quality goals established by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment," according to the staff report. "A PHG is the level of chemical constituents in drinking water that does not pose a significant risk to health, and they are not regulatory standards."

According to the report, however, it's sometimes not feasible to set the drinking water standard at the same level as a PHG because the technology required to treat the chemicals might either not be available or would be too expensive.

"In the last three years, PHGs were exceeded for copper and uranium," the staff report reads. "While the potential health protection benefits of treating for copper and uranium are not clear, to install and operate a reverse osmosis system to remove copper and uranium would cost approximately $10.7 million (per year) for the life of the system."

Staff currently do not recommend moving forward with a reverse osmosis system because the city's drinking water currently meets all state drinking water standards, the effectiveness of the reverse osmosis treatment is still uncertain and the health benefits of these potential reductions in copper and uranium are not clear.

The City Council meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 6). Read the full agenda here.

In other business

* Zone 7 staff will be updating the council on the agency's recently updated water rates, which will increase 5.5% per year for the next four years starting on February 1. Pleasanton city staff will provide insight as to how these rate changes will affect residents and businesses.

The council will vote on adopting a resolution to approve the pass-through of these rates.

"City staff values its relationship with the Zone 7 Board and Agency staff, and supports its approach to maintain a balance between controlling costs and increasing water rates reflecting both Zone 7's economic realities and the region's overall financial conditions," according to the staff report.

Water rates are something that the city has no control over as they are set by the water agency and are subject to change every year.

On Nov. 16, the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors approved a multi-year wholesale treated water rate increase schedule for calendar years 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026.

The Zone 7 board will revisit the rate schedules for 2025 and 2026 through a public process and will make any changes to the rates by November 2024.

According to the report, if the Zone 7 water rate increases are approved, there won't just be cost increases to every resident and business in Pleasanton.

The city would also see annual water wholesale cost increases of approximately $3.4 million for water purchased starting in February -- according to the report, the city's budget will be updated during the mid-year review to account for this change.

These increased rate changes will help provide funding for continued participation in water supply reliability projects, covering costs associated with different PFAS treatment projects and the replenishment of Zone 7's Water Enterprise Operations Fund reserves.

* One of the consent calendar items during Tuesday's meeting will be seeking approval to allocate more than $300,000 of additional funding toward the Pleasanton Library roof replacement project.

The roof replacement project, which was meant to address water leaking, was a priority on the City Council capital improvement program's list, which identified projects in the city to allocate funding toward repairs.

Construction started in August and was slated to be finished in late fall, but since then several unforeseen infrastructure issues and water damage were discovered such as the windows not being weatherproofed.

Other issues that need to be addressed are: structural roofing repairs, additional metal flashing and gutters to address concentrated water, a window system change to accommodate seismic bracing, replacement of dry-rotted overhang plywood and miscellaneous wood repairs.

According to the report, the project will now be completed by summer 2023.

"Construction will be delayed between completion of the roof work in December and a spring start for the window work, after the arrival of the gable end windows," the report reads. "A four-week closure of the library to the public will be necessary for the installation of the windows."

The total budget currently being set aside for the project is $2,806,456 but now with the added expenditures the anticipated budget is being projected at $2,996,456, leaving a shortfall of $190,000.

Staff is recommending to move $190,000 from the Capital Facilities Fees Fund to the Library Roof Replacement Project in order to complete funding for this project.

They are also seeking authorization to increase the project contingency amount to $612,000 -- which is an additional $275,000, plus the original $337,000 -- for the unforeseen necessary related work.

Comments

keeknlinda
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Dec 7, 2022 at 10:13 am
keeknlinda, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Dec 7, 2022 at 10:13 am

Kudos to both Ken Minn, Groundwater Resources Mgr. for Zone 7 Water Agency and Valerie Pryor, Zone 7 General Mgr. for their thorough and thoughtful presentation to City Council last night. They managed to lay the PFAS/PFOS/PFHxS cards on the table in terms the public can grasp, no easy task with such a technical topic. And to make it clear they are monitoring and managing diligently, to ensure the Tri-Valley continues to receive the safe drinking water it needs and deserves.
Zone 7 recently addressed water rates as well, and they are to be commended for recognizing the need, in this 4th drought year, to do some reserve policy adjusting in order to minimize the already high financial impact on ratepayers. Yes, we'll be paying more, but substantially less than had first been deemed necessary.
Credit is due also to Pleasanton's Water Operations Staff for choosing again not to raise its rates on top of Zone 7's, instead sufficing with a passthrough of the Zone 7 increase. It makes for a leaner water budget and will rely on conservation cooperation from us, but keeps the financial burden to a minimum while ensuring we won't run out of clean water.
Seeing the two entities cooperate and compromise over these difficult few months of hard decision-making is most refreshing. Including the public before, not after the fact and greater openness is a welcome approach. Let's hope this is a harbinger of better water works going forward.
Spend a little time watching the presentations on YouTube. I bet you'll learn something of value


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