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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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West Sac, Davis renew interest in water deal; decision on project falls to water committee

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From page A1 | October 12, 2012 |

After Davis and West Sacramento officials exchanged offers for a surface water deal last month, it appeared a potential agreement between the two cities seemed all but dead.

But that opportunity may have been resurrected Thursday when Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza and Councilmen Brett Lee once again met with West Sacramento to talk water.

The two Davis city leaders left that meeting — just hours before the Water Advisory Committee would convene to hear the status of those negotiations — with a new offer.

In August, the WAC recommended that the City Council simultaneously negotiate with West Sacramento and Woodland to try to work out the best possible deal for one of the two surface water options.

The WAC felt that if either West Sacramento or Woodland would be willing to give a bit to Davis in terms of cost that could sway its decision in recommending a surface water project to the City Council.

The water committee must pick a surface water project to recommend by its meeting Oct. 18 so that the council can finalize ballot measure language for a March vote on the project on Oct. 23.

West Sacramento Mayor Chris Cabaldon told The Enterprise last week that he originally believed that the Water Advisory Committee — whose work he says he has been paying attention to — wasn’t seriously entertaining the West Sacramento alternative as a viable option.

That belief was hammered home in the letter West Sacramento City Manager Martin Tuttle sent to Davis City Manager Steve Pinkerton in September regarding the initial offer that the Water Advisory Committee recommended in August.

“Your connection fee proposal falls short of that needed to advance the negotiations between our two cities,” the letter read.

The initial exchange led to the two city’s mayors agreeing that further discussions wouldn’t result in anything productive, so the decision was made to walk away.

But Lee, not satisfied with the outcome of the original talks, pushed for a second meeting, which resulted in the most recent offer.

The offer — which Lee explained to the committee at its meeting Thursday — would lock Davis in as a permanent customer of West Sacramento with a connection fee of about $1.6 million per million gallons of water per day.

At 12 mgd, which is what the city would receive through the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency project, the connection fee would run a little more than $19 million. But if the city could manage with less water, the connection fee then would be less.

Davis also would be responsible to pay for its share of any expansion to West Sacramento’s intake facility on the Sacramento River. The Bryte Bend Water Treatment Plant has a capacity of 60 MGD. West Sacramento currently uses 30.

The main difference between this offer and the deal that West Sacramento officials offered last month appears to be the contract period term.

West Sacramento initially proposed a 20-year contract due to its 2032 growth projections. The WAC had asked for a 30-year deal with an option to renew for 30 more years after that.

But if Davis paid for its share of expansion of the intake facility, it seems West Sacramento would feel more comfortable guaranteeing a permanent water supply.

Lee finally told the committee Thursday that this would be the last round of negotiations between the two sides until the city of Davis made a definitive decision between Woodland and West Sacramento.

“The WAC certainly is taking (West Sacramento) seriously and took it on faith that those discussions would happen,” committee member Michael Bartolic said at the meeting. “I’m very glad that they did, and now we’ll go forward with that information.”

The WAC will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Davis Senior Center, 646 A St. to make its final recommendation on a surface water project.

Meanwhile, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk and Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson will meet again with Woodland city leaders Monday to try to renegotiate the Joint Powers Authority agreement the two cities signed in 2009.
Wolk and Swanson are looking to get Woodland to share in the cost of the treated water pipelines and also share more equitably in the overall cost of the potential project.
Woodland officials said initially that they would not be used as a “bargaining chip” while Davis negotiated with West Sacramento.

Wolk hinted earlier this week that a deal might be reached.

The Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency project would siphon water from the Sacramento River, treat it and pipe it over to Davis and Woodland. The two cities would jointly build the project.

Dianna Jensen, the city’s principal civil engineer, has estimated the cost of the project at $163 million.

West Sacramento already draws its water from the Sacramento River through its existing intake facility. Davis would have to buy into the facility as a water customer through a connection fee, then build all the necessary pipeline to transport the treated water over.

This option was originally estimated to cost Davis about $142 million.

— Reach Tom Sakash at tsakash@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash

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Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at tsakash@davisenterprise.net, (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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