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Glenshire residents talk water

Darin Olde, Sierra Sun

Glenshire residents met Monday in another meeting to discuss ongoing problems that may lead to the dissolution of the community-owned water system.

“Since 1990, Glenshire Mutual has grown by 40 percent, and of all the Water Company’s shareholders water use has increased 63 percent,” said Mark Thomas, general manager of the water system, during the meeting at the Glenshire Clubhouse. “Overall consumption has more than doubled since 1990.”

And with 40 percent of the Water Company’s wells out of production because of arsenic contamination, the biggest problem isn’t water quality, it’s water supply.

“The Glenshire aquifer is recharging at 325 million gallons per year … and the safe yield may be less than what we are pumping right now,” Thomas said.

The bottom line is that Glenshire Mutual Water Company is running out of water, and 40 percent of the water it does have is considered toxic according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The news hung heavy with some of the 20 or so residents at the meeting. In another meeting held earlier this month, Thomas said more than 50 residents showed up to find out what was going on and voice their concerns.

“Was there a misunderstanding about where we would be?” asked Glenshire resident Eileen Lewis. “Was the general plan that much in error?”

Thomas responded that Glenshire was a vacation community at the time the water company created its general plan. Growth projections were estimated at 4 to 5 percent per year. Instead, annual growth rates have been about 8 percent. He cited the increase in artificial landscaping and the increase in water demands as another factor.

An increase in the number of full-time residents and increases in the duration of visits was also mentioned.

“Who could have projected that over the last several years home prices would go up as much as they did? … They had the numbers and projected the best they could,” said Thomas of the efforts to create growth projections in the general plan.

Dennis McVry asked if estimates by the Truckee Donner Public Utility District indicate it will be able to accommodate the 1,331 customers of Glenshire Mutual if it takes the system over.

“We used very conservative estimates,” said Ed Taylor, water superintendent for the TDPUD.

Taylor was referring to a preliminary water study recently released by Placer County Water Agency that determined water demands at build-out in Martis Valley would still be less than the available ground water supply by nearly 4,000 acre feet of water per year, well above the margin for concern.

Thomas outlined the two alternatives facing Glenshire Mutual shareholders: voting for PUD intervention or remaining an independent water company.

To treat for arsenic and collect funds for well replacement a typical Glenshire Mutual shareholder could face bills as high as $900 annually, but that still might not guarantee water supply.

If the PUD gets involved the cost would be less than $500 annually because it already has wells in production that meet arsenic standards and can be used to supply Glenshire Mutual shareholders.

“We always try to stay one well ahead of the demand,” added Taylor, who said the PUD has plans to drill seven more wells in the next 10 years.

“Our duty to our shareholders is to supply the highest quality water or the lowest quality price,” said Rick Gardner, president of the Glenshire Mutual board of directors, summing up the meeting, “and we can’t do that anymore.”

The result of the vote to determine PUD involvement is scheduled for May 7.


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