Many of us have home loans, the repayment of that debt is guaranteed by the house. Bonds are debt. To sell the revenue bonds we had to show we had the revenue to make the interest and principle payments. This debt is guaranteed by payment of our water bills. The Council passed Resolution 2006-25 telling us what the bond money would be used for. In general terms, here is how staff explained it--
In one sense the proposed tank is a replacement project, but is it an improvement without consideration to future development? This is a storage project, so the question is, do we need the storage? If the answer is no, then this is not a necessary improvement to the existing system. To answer that question requires a little knowledge of the system.
There are 5 zones in the northern section. This schematic does not show the Holman tank. A new waterline will soon allow Vancil reservoir to replace that tank and provide storage for the Home Ave area. At that point water storage for the northern section will be in two tanks and Vancil reservoir. The new project would replace two tanks now at the Stewart Street site. Do we need a 2 million gallon tank there?
Here is a graph showing the recommended storage and the storage with the new tank. It also shows the storage if Vancil reservoir is used instead of building a new tank, which would be the current storage without the two tanks recommended for replacement in the 2007 Preliminary Design Report. Ironically Vancil has enough storage to meet current and future needs.
At the time the Fortuna City Council decided to move the proposed tank to the Stewart Street site at least three Councilmembers expressed the belief that the Vancil reservoir was built as emergency storage in response to the 1964 flood. It was built in 1963. It was built up the street from the existing tanks serving the downtown and was part of a water development program that also extended waterlines.
At an August 2008 "Workshop" meeting the consulting engineer was asked if Vancil could be used for Zone 1 storage. He explained larger pumps would be needed at the Stewart site and there would be higher pumping costs. When asked if this would effect fire fighting, he said there are 5 million gallons in Vancil. He recommended another waterline be built.
During the fall of 2008 staff and consulting engineers looked at several alternatives to the Rohner Park site. They also looked at the possibility of using Vancil reservoir. Although a May 2008 memo states that the pump station at Stewart street requires some storage to pump to Vancil, the conceptual plan investigated was with both tanks removed. The elimination of storage, using a wet well, created operational problems.
A 2003 city document, a Request for Proposal, states "the round tank is still sound."
A power point slide at the August 2008 "Workshop" indicates one tank is leaking.
In May 2009 a consulting engineer wrote, "The circular tank appears to be in relatively good condition. Although we did not conduct a detailed inspection, we understand that previous inspections have revealed little cracking and/or structural distress in the concrete sidewalls."
The alternative of using Vancil with storage at Stewart Street was never presented or considered by the Fortuna City Council. In January 2009 the Council decided to build a new 2 million gallon tank at Stewart Street. Councilmembers Berti, Whitchurch and Glaser stressed the importance of maintaining Vancil as emergency storage and providing fire protection.
The proposed tank was sized to allow 1/2 million gallons of fire reserve storage. At the January 12th meeting the Fire Chief referred to a recent fire in Eureka and said, "It would not be hard to imagine putting a million gallons on a fire downtown."
Vancil currently provides backup storage for Zone 1. In the fall of 2008 staff was discussing a new larger waterline between Vancil reservoir and Stewart Street. And in October, as Vancil was being relined, it was decided to enlarge the Vancil water outlet "in order to provide flexibility for future water system configurations". So the future use of Vancil with storage at Stewart Street is a possibility.
However, the engineer recommended a redundant waterline to downtown via an alternate route. Whether for emergencies or maintenance, two ways to get water from storage is critical. This waterline via Christian Ridge Road would also make Vancil storage directly available to Zone 1, eliminating the need for 2 million gallons of additional storage.
For whatever reason, the alternative of using Vancil was not considered by the Fortuna City Council. That alternative would make distribution improvements to use existing storage, which can provide the current storage need, 1 million gallons of fire reserve storage and 2 million gallons for future development. And it would save bond funds for other needed improvements.
The 2009 decision was based on assumptions that facts now show were incorrect. Before committing us to a contract the Council should know the condition of the round tank at Stewart Street and have an estimate for the distribution improvements needed to use Vancil. Then they can make an informed decision to use the bonds as promised to make improvements to use existing storage. As luck would have it, that decision should meet our needs for years to come.