Gail's Goals and Priorities as a Director on the SLVWD Board
Gail wants to be a unifying voice for SLVWD while offering solid guidance for our post-fire crisis and beyond. She is committed to serve the District as a responsible fiscal and environmental steward, and to foster a sense of common purpose through clear communication with ratepayers.
There are many critical challenges facing the SLV Water District today. Here are some top priorities Gail would pursue as a member of the SLVWD Board.
• Ensure the post-fire safety of our water supply with repeated, extensive testing of water from district tanks and distribution lines as well as individual households in areas of severe fire damage. In addition to VOCs, future testing should look for toxic metals such as lead, chrome, and arsenic, which have been detected after previous fires. The District will need to develop a long-term program for testing and will need to get help from state agencies to bear the considerable cost.
• Reconstruction following the CZU fire should be used as a chance to upgrade parts of the system, to make the system more resistant to natural hazards, and to consider the balance of surface and well water use in the district. District staff have done heroic work bringing water service back online as quickly as possible after our fire damage. Upcoming negotiations with FEMA and Cal OES about funding more permanent repairs gives us a chance to bring pipelines up to modern standards, make cost-benefit analyses that consider long-term safety from natural hazards (e.g., wildfire, earthquakes, landslides) and make our facilities more efficient.
• Give highest priority to capital projects that will reduce leaks and ensure we have the water flows we need in all areas to fight fires. In the recent fires, we all saw how critical a steady water supply is to the safety of our community. Moreover, every drop of water lost to leakage is water that could have remained in a stream to support minimum stream flows for salmon in summer or that could have remained in the aquifer to maintain groundwater levels.
• Continue environmental stewardship of district forest and sand hills lands, taking into account climate change. Our plans for reconstruction after the CZU fire have to take into account climate change: increased fire hazard due to increased autumn temperatures, and increasing variability of rainfall patterns characterized by extended periods of drought and rainfall being concentrated into larger winter storms. Science-based restoration of burned forests on District lands and careful stewardship of the unique sandhills ecological community around our facilities is a high priority because, in addition to being the right thing to do, it is the most cost-effective way of ensuring a continuing supply of clean water to the District’s ratepayers.
• Aggressively pursue grants and matching funds for capital projects and environmental stewardship. This is one way to help keep costs lower for ratepayers.
• Be a strong advocate for the interests of the District in the Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency. Gail will advocate for a groundwater sustainability plan that protects the basin’s aquifers, stream flows, and groundwater-based habitats, but also doesn’t impose costs on us out of proportion to the benefits for our District. She will also make sure the groundwater and surface water modeling takes into account the effects of climate change.
• Collaborate with community groups, and encourage community members with relevant skills and knowledge to participate in district committees. Our valley has many talented and engaged residents and community groups that can help district staff and the Board in researching issues and developing proposals.
• Explore new sources of income for the District, including sale of excess winter flows to Scotts Valley Water District so they could rest their wells in winter, allowing groundwater levels to recover from pumping. This is another way to help keep costs reasonable for ratepayers.
• Adopt multi-year budgeting. This will allow the District to do a better job at systematically replacing aging, damaged, or obsolete equipment. It will also make it easier for management to achieve efficiencies in operational costs, staffing, and use of consultants.
• Promote efficient Board meetings, and model respectful behavior that encourages open communication and effective conflict resolution.