City government

Council authorizes $30 million bond for surface water project

By From page A1 | October 09, 2013

Full speed ahead.

The City Council unanimously approved the first big piece of financing Tuesday for the surface water project, giving the go-ahead to city management to issue $30 million in bonds from Wells Fargo.

About $12 million will be used to pay off debt the city already has accrued for the project, while $16 million will be put toward future construction and engineering costs.

An unrecoverable cost of $420,000 to issue the bonds is also a part of the overall total.

The Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency surface water project, which will furnish Davis and Woodland with new supplies of drinking water from the Sacramento River by 2016, will cost Davis about $106 million.

The water agency board — which represents both Davis and Woodland — is expected to award the contract Thursday to build the project’s $141.2 million treatment facility to CH2M Hill, the Colorado-based firm that was the only entity able to submit a priced proposal for the plant.

Davis city leaders, meanwhile, still expect to nail down state revolving fund dollars next year, which they hope will cover the entire remaining cost of the overall project.

SRF loans carry relatively low-interest fixed rates, often with 20-year payback periods. If funding for the full cost of the project is secured with the state money, city officials have said it could save Davis $60 million in debt service payments. Water bills in town would not be affected, however, until the loan was paid off in 20 years.

The city likely would refinance this initial $30 million bond if it received the SRF funding, which is dedicated by the state to water quality efforts such as the surface water project.

Toilet rebate program on hold

Concerned with helping residents cut down on water use while rates climb in the coming years, the City Council decided Tuesday to wait to approve the city’s $40,000 toilet rebate program in order to gather more information about all the ways folks can conserve.

Similar to the previous programs the city has rolled out in years past, under this program residents are incentivized with rebates to trade in their old toilets for low-flow models that reduce the amount of water used per flush.

Had the council approved the program Tuesday, it would have provided 400 rebates to residents at $100 apiece, totaling $40,000.

But with many other ways to conserve water — including switching out other appliances, replacing front and backyard turf with native and drought-resistant plants or installing “smart meters,” among other measures — council members said they’d like to make sure the money the city spends in helping residents conserve is used as effectively as possible.

The city already has hired WaterSmart Software, a private Bay Area company, to run its WaterInsight program where residents are mailed reports that detail water use and suggest methods to conserve based on the characteristics of the home.

Staff expects to return in December with a full report on the issue.

— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected], (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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