One of the Board’s tasks in the late summer/early fall each year is to begin a review of capital improvement projects (CIP) that will keep the water and sewer systems operating reliably and efficiently. This process culminates in the adoption of the District’s CIP Program during our budget review and update process at the end of the year.
A large portion of the rates that you pay each year goes to fund maintenance and system improvement costs. Each year we prepare a detailed 10-year program of capital projects that are necessary to meet the demands of our plants and systems. Many items are ongoing in nature, such as wastewater plant improvements that either replace aging equipment or anticipate future regulatory and capacity needs. We also anticipate upcoming roadwork projects within the District’s service area each year. These provide logistical opportunities to install new water service lines and other appurtenances before new pavement is installed within the right of way. Other routine capital investment items includes the purchase of vehicles and mobile equipment, such as portable generators and the large “vactor” trucks you may have seen driving around your neighborhoods. Upgrades to technology systems are also an important part of the regular investment in the future of the utility systems.
Not all capital investments are regular or typical. One of the largest water system upgrades planned for the next ten years is the installation of an automated meter reading system. Over the next four or five years, we will be replacing existing manual read meters with meters that are read through the radio signal they transmit. Not only will this save time and improve meter reading accuracy, it will provide customers with more information about when they use water. This information will help better identify whether, and when, a leak may have occurred within your water service line or home plumbing.
On the wastewater side, we are making progress on a program to reduce the amount of rainwater that seeps into our wastewater collections system. This infiltration increases the volume of the wastewater that must be treated. Earlier this year we completed the repair of side sewers and mains in an area where heavy rainfall brings high groundwater infiltration into the wastewater system. If this pilot project significantly reduces flows within the collection system in the area, the Board may consider more of these types of projects in the future. In addition to dealing with increased flows that reach the plants, both the Redondo and Lakota Wastewater Treatment Plants will continue to require significant expenditures to maintain efficiency and allow us to meet new environmental regulations.
We are in the early stages of design on a new administration office and maintenance complex, which will be located on the site of the current administration office and water maintenance building. Replacing older buildings with new facilities will allow us to increase efficiency and save energy.
In total over the next ten years, we will be spending nearly one hundred fifty million dollars to upgrade and improve the water and sewer system. Rest assured that we review each project carefully to make sure that we are making the best use of your rate dollar.