Lakes Water System Update
February 6, 2019
With the urging and support of Green Valley Landowners Association (GVLA), Solano County and the City for Vallejo have agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This follows the Due Diligence Agreement that was in place through November 2017 and reflects a year of discussions between County and City staff and leaders to take a serious look at this issue for the region and Lakes Water System (LWS) customers.
In the MOU, the “parties agree to work together to evaluate opportunities and options that would facilitate improvements and continues safe and sustainable operation of the Lakes Water System in unincorporated Solano County, with a focus on:
· Ensuring adequate domestic water availability to all existing customers
· Looking for opportunities to expand the customer base while staying within County General Plan growth limits
· Providing rate stability for existing customers
· Identifying and facilitate cost-effective upgrades to infrastructure
· Identifying available financial options that may offset costs of upgrades to the system
· Maintaining a regional water distribution system consistent with the Solano County General Plan
· Identifying opportunities to address the challenges of multiple domestic water systems serving the area currently in or adjacent to the Lakes Water System service area
· Identifying options and opportunities for addressing the multiple domestic water systems that currently exist or are in the vicinity of the Lakes Water Service area including possible creation of a consolidated service entity und the City of Vallejo Water Department” (spelling errors left as written in the document)
The MOU was approved the Vallejo City Council on January 8, 2019 and the Solano County Board of Supervisors on February 5, 2019.
As some history for newcomers to the area, GVLA instituted a class-action lawsuit in 2013 against the City of Vallejo on behalf of Lakes Water System (LWS) users to redress grievances and to delay any sale of the LWS by Vallejo giving GVLA time to identify rational regional solutions to the broader water challenges of Solano County. The case went all the way to the California Supreme Court but they denied our petition for review. While the denial put an end to our legal efforts, it did not end our search for a solution.
Water issues affect interests in the entire region and GVLA shifted its focus to a broader political solution. LWS customers are entitled clean and reasonably affordable water. Our goal is a rational, long-term solution for our regions water quality, availability and reasonable delivery costs. In our view, any LWS solution must address the need for infrastructure upgrades, regardless of changes to control and operating arrangements.
GLVA participated in exploratory discussions with Solano County, City of Vallejo, Solano Irrigation District (SID) and City of Fairfield and to identify solution options to the LWS challenges and other regional water delivery plans. On November 22, 2016, the Solano County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to authorize the County Administrator to execute a Due Diligence Agreement and subsequent one-year extension of the Agreement (if necessary) with the City of Vallejo in order to evaluate the potential challenges and opportunities presented by the LWS and the feasibility of forming a local management entity to run the system. This follows the unanimous approval of the Due Diligence Agreement by the City Council of Vallejo on November 15, 2016.
After one year the City of Vallejo was unwilling to renew the Due Diligence Agreement and after several months of discussions there has been an effort to document an MOU between the City of Vallejo and Solano County. There were a number of sticking issues and, until recently, there was no agreement to cooperate. This approved MOU solves that impasse.
Our optimism for a new path for rational and cost-effective water delivery service for LWS customers and the surrounding area is now improving. There are many obstacles and concerns to be addressed but the governmental agencies needed to agree to work together. We all know that actions speak louder than words but the MOU provides a basis for significant and meaningful discussions about the future of the Lakes Water System, the involvement of Solano County to help solve some of the challenges and the impacts on existing users.
GVLA has brought our deep knowledge of the LWS system to the table and we have been advocating for solutions that are in the best interests of the LWS customers. We will keep you informed on any progress.
Thank you for all your support as we continue this effort on behalf of the LWS users and the local community!