Inyo Supervisors: water system angst, cottage food fees

inyosupervisors4-16When the Inyo Supervisors signed the Water Agreement with the Department of Water and Power back in the 90s, they agreed to take on the water systems in Lone Pine, Independence and Laws. The happy thought back then was that community service districts would take them over. That never happened, and now the towns are smaller and less able to handle the systems. The County is running them but hopes someone will hand in a proposal to take over those systems.

At their meeting today, the Supervisors expected to hear from Public Works on issuing a new Request For Proposals for operation and maintenance of the water systems. Public Works officials said in the agenda packet that an earlier RFP wanted proposals with “an out of the box” approach. Officials said “the three proposals received didn’t contain the desired creativity or ingenious flavor that had been imagined.” It’s unclear just what that imagining was, but now officials say they are looking for a much more traditional RFP with a very objective list of Standard Operating Procedures. Officials say, “It is hoped this elimination of subjectivity will result in the receipt of more cost effective proposals.”

Citizens who watch this issue unfold have several fears – that their systems will not be properly maintained and upgraded as needed and that their rates will go too high. In Southern Inyo in particular the groundwater has gone down dozens of feet due to groundwater pumping. Irrigation of plants and trees takes more water. The idea was to get the water systems away from DWP and keep rates lower. The Supervisors never did get enough money out of DWP to upgrade the aged systems.

The Supervisors will also look at a request to extend the contract with Owenyo Services of Lone Pine for water system operations through March of 2014 at a cost of nearly $27,000 per month, not to exceed $2.2 million for the year, according to the agenda.

On another topic, at 1:30pm the Board had scheduled an item from Environmental Health to amend County Code and waive the temporary food facility permit fees for Cottage Food Operators selling their products next to and during certified farmers markets.

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