May 15, 2015
On the heels of last night’s Budget Committee discussion of water capital projects, here’s a link to an interesting article about a recent Harris poll regarding attitudes toward investment in sustainable water supply and infrastructure strategies. According to the poll, 82% of Americans “think it is important or extremely important to invest in strategies and programs that develop sustainable water supplies.” In addition, 56% of respondents agreed with the statement "water bills need to increase to repair and modernize water and wastewater infrastructure." It should be noted that this poll was commissioned by an organization called “The Value of Water Coalition,” which includes a number of public sector agencies but also many private sector concerns who work on water supply and infrastructure. Still, these findings would appear to be borne out by last November’s election in California, when two-thirds of the state’s voters approved a $7.5 billion bond measure for the purpose of financing a range of water projects.
Here is an interesting article from Oregon Business Magazine regarding a recent agreement that links the northwest power system with California’s grid operator, creating some efficiencies in both systems by offering better use of existing and underutilized stand-by generation. It is way out of the City of Ashland’s league, but indicative of the big picture changes in the regional and national energy markets. Moving surplus around a larger playing field with players that value the product greatly (California pays more for kilowatts than anyone in the northwest), helps monetize renewables and stabilizes the northwest system, while also providing a market for additional revenues. The challenge is ensuring that the core purpose and charge of the BPA system is maintained, rather than becoming a profit maximizing entity. This agreement is a terrific deal for for-profit utilities that will be able to more easily sell surplus power to California at much higher prices than they can fetch in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s a mixed bag for municipal utilities such as Ashland. It could on the one hand subject BPA wholesale rates to upward market pressure. On the other hand, it could provide an outlet for surplus BPA power for which all BPA wholesale customers pay, even if no one uses it.
Public Works Department
Last Friday the water distribution crew worked with a contractor to complete routine cleaning of the Strawberry reservoir. The Strawberry reservoir is at the southwest edge of town and serves water users in that area. We have four similar distribution reservoirs, all serving a different area of the city. These reservoirs are enclosed tanks of varying sizes. The Strawberry Reservoir (shown below during the cleaning process) has a capacity of about 500,000 gallons.
Each of the four reservoirs is cleaned as needed to remove mineral deposits that have accumulated on the floor and walls. These mineral deposits are harmless and naturally occurring in water but if allowed to accumulate for too long the quality of the water (especially the clarity) could be compromised. Unexpected high flow events have the potential to pull these mineral deposits into our distribution system, causing discolored water for water users in town. These high flow events include everything from fire fighting activities to leaks within the distribution system itself.
Cleaning the reservoirs is an interesting process and requires a specialized contractor to perform the work. The interior of each reservoir is only accessible from a hatch in the top. This limited access point requires a specially trained diver with approved cleaning equipment to do the cleaning. The diver must wear an approved diving suit and be cleaned and disinfected before entering the reservoir. The cleaning equipment used is essentially an industrial version of a shop-vac, designed for underwater use. As the diver vacuums the walls and floor, the cleaning equipment pulls water from the reservoir, collects any debris and disposes of the remaining water in an approved manner. Since our storm drains all lead directly to nearby streams, any treated water removed from the reservoir is not allowed to enter that system without first being de-chlorinated. In the case of the Strawberry reservoir, because it is located in a wooded area, the water is sent through a sprinkler and distributed on the hillside next to the reservoir for natural de-chlorination.
Below is a letter the Public Works Department received from a couple of citizens expressing their appreciation for the City’s lawn replacement program:
APD received a terrific compliment from the loss prevention supervisor at Ray's Food Place for the great job Detective Rick Spence did in a recent fraud case These cases are very complicated, labor intensive, and usually stretch across multiple jurisdictions (We don't even have a Ray's in Ashland.) We work a case that pops up in Ashland, and it frequently leads to other locations being involved. Here’s what was entered in APD’s Guardian tracking system:
I got a call from the loss prevention supervisor of Ray's Foods. He wanted to praise Detective Spence for his quick work on the fraud case he recently worked. He was very pleased with Rick's quick response and the manner in which he represented the PD and the entire profession. Great job Rick.
CERT’s spring basic training kicked off this past weekend with a diverse group of trainees from Ashland High School, Southern Oregon University and the community at large. The Ashland High School SERT/CERT Club has been working lately to highlight the importance of student involvement and district support and participation. Five of the Club members are immersed in CERT’s basic training as part of their overall preparedness. The Club hopes to gain more student involvement and support to double its size for the upcoming school year.
The Map Your Neighborhood program has been busy; there will be two gatherings this coming Saturday and one the following Saturday to complete a large area in the Meadow Drive area.