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West Sac walks away from surface water deal with Davis; Woodland not ready to renegotiate

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From page A1 | October 05, 2012 | Leave Comment

The cities of Davis and West Sacramento have cut off negotiations for a surface water deal, after the two sides traded offers for a contract and realized too much of a “significant gap” existed to proceed any further.

The offers are spelled out in two letters exchanged between Davis City Manager Steve Pinkerton and West Sacramento City Manager Martin Tuttle, which will be presented to the Water Advisory Committee next week.

The water committee has until Oct. 18 to recommend either the West Sacramento alternative or the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency project to the council so it can finalize ballot language at its Oct. 23 meeting for a public vote in March.

But with less than three weeks until that deadline, the recent development may have taken the West Sacramento option off the table completely, leaving the Woodland-Davis project as the preferred option to bring a new drinking water supply to Davis.

“I would love to see an opening to pursue West Sacramento further,” Mayor Joe Krovoza said in an interview Thursday. ”I think it’s very clear that their priority is to use their system for their community and what we need is too much at too low of a price at too long of a period of time. It’s pretty simple.

“In the end, the communities are simply too far apart for West Sacramento to engage with us further,” Krovoza added in a statement.

The Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency project would siphon water from the Sacramento River, treat it and pipe it into Davis and Woodland. The two cities would co-own the project through the Joint Powers Authority agreement that each signed in 2009.

The West Sacramento alternative would have Davis buy into the city’s existing intake facility farther south on the Sacramento River.

In mid-August, the Water Advisory Committee recommended that the council negotiate with both Woodland and West Sacramento to try to shake out the best deal possible for a surface water supply.

For West Sacramento, the committee recommended that the council propose a 30-year contract for 12 million gallons of water per day, uninterrupted, with a $6 million connection fee and an option for Davis to renew the deal for 30 more years upon completion of the first time period.

Pinkerton wrote a letter to Tuttle on Sept. 17 detailing those deal points.

Tuttle responded with a letter that said West Sacramento was willing to agree only to a 20-year contract with either a $12.66 or $19.4 million connection fee, depending on which city would be responsible for paying for expansion of the Bright Bend treatment plant down the road.

“Our staff and their staff worked very hard to define the scope of our needs and the scope of what they could give… (but we were) truly too far apart for further discussions,” Krovoza said.

Krovoza and Councilman Brett Lee were supposed to meet West Sacramento council members to discuss terms, but the two sides never sat down together.

Lee said Thursday he was disappointed and believes the two cities missed an opportunity.

Meanwhile, on the Woodland-Davis project front, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk and Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson also were unsuccessful in their negotiations.

The two met with Woodland Mayor Skip Davies and Councilman Bill Marble to renegotiate several costs of the project to each city, but the Woodland city leaders said they did not want to be used as a “bargaining chip” while Davis negotiated with West Sacramento.

“Woodland needs the source of surface water supply, regardless of what Davis decides, and intends to go forward with the intake and treatment plant project with or without Davis,” the staff report described of the discussions. “When Davis decides what it wants, they need to approach Woodland as a member of the JPA.”

The WAC recommended that the City Council negotiate for equitable cost sharing of the intake facility based on each city’s usage — 12 mgd or 40 percent for Davis and 18 mgd or 60 percent for Woodland — and then for equal cost sharing of the treated water pipelines that would deliver the water to each city.

Wolk did say, however, that he believes the two cities can come to a more equitable agreement.

“I remain confident, particularly with this new information (regarding West Sacramento), that our community and Woodland can come together, recognize our shared values and the mutual benefit to our communities and come to terms on a more equitable cost-sharing arrangement,” Wolk said in an email.

The Water Advisory Committee will formally receive the staff report on the negotiations during its meeting Thursday.

The committee has not made a definitive recommendation on which surface water project the city of Davis should pursue, but according to chairwoman Elaine Roberts Musser, a decision is coming soon.

“The city of West Sac has come back with a counter-offer that they feel is in their best interests, taking into account their particular circumstances and needs,” Roberts Musser said in a text message Thursday. “The WAC will now have to weigh the Woodland option against West Sac’s counter-offer.”

Aside from discussing the results of the negotiations and voting for a project, the WAC also must hammer down a rate structure by its Oct. 18 meeting to recommend to the council.

Last week, the committee voted 5-3 to recommend a design-build-operate method to deliver the Woodland-Davis project if the city decided to go in that direction rather than with West Sacramento.

On Oct. 23, the City Council must decide on a project, a rate structure and delivery method, likely based on WAC recommendations, and send it all to the Yolo County Elections office in preparation for a March vote.

Dianna Jensen, the city’s principal civil engineer, has estimated the cost of the Woodland-Davis project at $163 million and the cost of the West Sacramento option at about $142 million.
— Reach Tom Sakash at tsakash@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash

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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