Boonville Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment Proposal 2015-2020


Drinking Water Service Area Map                   Wastewater Service Area Map

Frequently Asked Questions

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      General Questions :

Why should the community consider a water and/or wastewater disposal system? :

      There is historical evidence of private well contamination in Boonville that is most likely attributable to the proximity of wells and onsite septic systems. The presence of small lots in portions of the community exacerbate the problem. Many septic systems are also nearing the end of their useful life and in some circumstances, there is insufficient space for a standard replacement leach field. When a system fails in these circumstances, the only viable alternatives are very expensive. In 2016, water quality testing of samples drawn from 23 residential wells in the densest housing areas revealed alarming levels of E Coli and nitrates. These findings confirm that a health issue exists. Funding is currently available under State Proposition 1 to create municipal utility systems. This is a relatively new program and offers an opportunity to take advantage of it. The District has tapped into Proposition 1 State planning grants to develop an affordable Water/Wastewater utility system.

Why has the county not done more to enforce, red-tag or condemn properties with failed septic systems? Why are landlords not held accountable for providing potable water? :

      Renter's rights such as for potable water are enforced by the State and not the County. Renters need to file a complaint with the State to initiate an investigation and many tenants are unlikely to do so. Shortage of housing is a factor. Known failures of septic systems have been required to be repaired and only if a property owner refused to repair the failed septic system will the County consider taking action that may lead to "red tagging" the structure.

Who will be served? :

      The proposed service areas are shown on the maps that are linked at the top of this page. The water system service area would extend from Hutsell Road northerly through Boonville (including side streets) to the High School and Clinic area, Meadow Estates and down Anderson Valley Way to the Elementary School. The wastewater system service area would extend from Hutsell Road northerly to the Mountain View Road intersection area, including side streets and also the High School and the AV Health Center.

Water vs wastewater. Is there a case for one over the other? Can we do both? :

      Water systems are generally easier and less expensive to develop. Either public utility system would alleviate the current potential health issue in Boonville. However, there would still be some potential public health issues remaining if only one system is implemented. For example, if a wastewater system were not implemented, the drinking water wells could become contaminated. Since funding is currently available to study the feasibility of both public water and wastewater disposal systems, the AVCSD is moving forward to study both systems.

Where are we on planning? :

      At this time the AVCSD is negotiating with property owners in the footprint of the proposed water system to site water wells, and is looking for a site within the footprint or nearby for the wastewater facility. Both projects are under environmental review (CEQA).

Where are we in the environmental review (CEQA) process? :

      The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that an Environmental Impact Report must be prepared as part of the planning process. In October of 2018 a Notice of Preparation was issued, stating that the report was being prepared. In November of 2018, a public scoping meeting was held to hear public comments about the project. When the draft EIR becomes available, a Notice of Availability will be issued and comments will be accepted for the following 60 days. As of March 2020, the EIR process cannot continue until a site is secured for the wastewater treatment plant.

Do the property owners have a chance to vote on the project(s)? :

      According to State rules, only the owners of properties within a proposed utility service area will have the opportunity to vote on any proposed rates. The process to set and adopt fees for property related services is set forth in Proposition 218. The definition of a majority protest is defined as occurring when more than 50% of all properly noticed property owners file a written protest.

How would this affect development? If we provide infrastructure how can we control what our town should look like and what projects are approved? :

      The community has concerns about future development in the Boonville area once existing infrastructure-related constraints are removed. We all want to maintain the positive qualities of life in Boonville. We should all recognize that there are other factors that will determine the pace of development and its nature (e.g. zoning, housing demand, proximity to employment opportunities, etc.). The matter of how much growth could theoretically occur was explored at a community meeting on 10/20/15. There is a link to this document on the right column of this page: Mendocino County Planning Dept Analysis. Note that growth will continue to be limited by current County of Mendocino zoning requirements and the system will only be designed for current usage with an "overcapacity" of only 10%. On the positive side, if a wastewater disposal system is installed, individual parcels will have more building options including the potential to accommodate small 'granny' units. Minimum lot size will be reduced with the addition of either water or wastewater systems and if both are installed the minimum lot size for a residential parcel will be reduced further. The systems will be designed to continue operating during electrical outages which is critical for the schools and businesses. Fire protection capabilities will be vastly improved likely resulting in lower insurance costs for property owners. Property values would be improved as well as public and environmental health.

Is everyone in the boundaries of the project required to hook up? :

      Everyone in the footprint of the wastewater system would have to connect if property owners approve. As for the water system, the decision to hook up would be optional. A backflow preventer would be required if an existing well were still connected to the house. A standalone irrigation system, not connected to the house, would not require a backflow preventer. Construction grants from the State would pay for all hookups for wastewater systems and residential laterals for water.

      Potable Water Questions :

Where would the water come from? How would we find it? :

      Identifying a secure water supply for the community is the most important issue to be addressed during the planning phase. The project engineers have identified locations for multiple groundwater wells sited where the geology and/or existing wells suggest the potential for the best well yields.

What would a municipal drinking water system look like? :

      The distribution system layout and locations of the supply and storage facilities will be determined during the planning phase. The most li The distribution system layout and locations of the supply and storage facilities will be determined during the planning phase. The most likely scenario for the water system is a network of water mains supplied by groundwater wells with storage tanks located at an elevation that provides gravity service throughout the service area. The water mains and storage facilities will be sized to deliver both fire and domestic service. Should the water system extend into area currently being served by an existing water system (Meadow Estates), it is anticipated that those facilities would be abandoned and not reused.

Fire Suppression: How does a municipal water system help meet the California Fire Code Requirements? :

      The current California Fire Code (CFC) has regulations for most remodels and new construction requiring water designated for fire suppression. Current fire code requires designated on site fire water (hydrants) and fire sprinklers with large storage capacities and delivery capacities. Construction projects and improvements currently need a municipal water source or an independent site source designed for the building and occupancy. These rules apply to the building sites in Boonville that were recently destroyed by fire.

Fire Suppression: How does a municipal water system provide reliable water supply? :

      Water is one of the biggest challenges that our FD faces while battling both structure fires and wildfires. -An average municipal fire hydrant can deliver the same amount of water in under two minutes as a single water tender can deliver in a single load. Normal water tender shuttle times range from 30 minutes to sometimes over an hour in rural areas. -Empirical data has proven that fire sprinklers save lives, keep fire smaller and more manageable, and reduce property loss. Availability of fire protection features like these will provide better protection for our community members, visitors and buildings. -A municipal system would provide a dedicated and reliable fire water supply. Dedicated water storage tanks supplying a gravity fed system would ensure adequate water delivery to fire suppression systems during power outages, which are typical during fire events.

Fire Suppression: How does a municipal water system mitigate current infrastructure water supply deficiencies? :

      The Elementary School, High School and the Health Clinic all have unique firefighting challenges that would benefit from the water supply provided from a fire hydrant. The elementary school has an insufficient water supply, the high school system provides limited supply and the health clinic system is static. Future construction improvements and fire suppression efforts could be difficult with current water supply systems.

Fire Suppression: How does a municipal water system help reduce insurance rates? :

      The Insurance Services Office (ISO) rates all properties in Anderson Valley that are within 1000' of a recognized hydrant (municipal style) at an ISO 5. Most all other areas in the district are rated at an ISO 5Y. The ISO 5 rating significantly reduces property owner's insurance costs once over a ISO 5Y rating. The current plan calls for hydrants every 500'.

Fire Suppression: How does a municipal water system help with wildfire water shuttling? :

      Without an adequate water supply, defensive firefighting tactics are used to ensure efficient use of available water. Instead of directly putting the the fire out, the risk of running out of water requires letting an existing fire burn while utilizing the minimal water supply to protect nearby structures and the surrounding wildland areas.

Is drought a factor? :

      A Public water system would be able to maintain more consistent service at a possible lower cost during times of drought. The State only offers monies for drought relief and potable water to public water systems. Private property owners with dry wells do not have access to those types of monetary relief.

Can I still use my old well? :

      Existing well systems may still be used for standalone systems. If an existing well system is connected to the municipal system, a backflow prevention device must be installed.

For drinking water, will hookup be optional? :

      Yes, parcel owners can decide not to connect to the water system and still benefit by fire hydrants along their street. If they decide to connect, the cost of the lateral, if a residential property, will be paid for by the construction grant. If they choose not to connect initially and later decide they want the service, then the cost of the hookup will be on them.

For drinking water, will usage be metered? Will there be a base charge even if there is no usage? :

      Yes, usage will be metered. The rate structure has not yet been determined, but it is likely that there will be a base charge for everyone connected.

      Wastewater Questions :

What would a municipal wastewater system look like? :

      The wastewater collection system layout, any necessary pump stations and the treatment and disposal system is being determined during the planning phase. Several types of these systems have been evaluated and the system that is State approved is a grinder pump collection system with a municipal type treatment facility and sub-surface disposal. It is the system that is deemed to be least costly to construct and maintain.

Can the project include beneficial re-use of treated wastewater effluent? :

      The preferred alternative that is affordable may not include treated water for agricultural use. This will be a topic for our community meetings.

How will the wastewater system be affected by power outages? :

      The wastewater treatment plant would have a backup power source. The grinder pumps at each hookup, however, would be powered by each homeowner's/business's electrical service which might go out, unless they have a backup generator. Larger than normal wet wells will be used for each grinder pump installation to accommodate any backup. They have a minimum of about 230 gallons, which may hold 2 or 3 days of normal use. During an extended outage, conservation measures would be encouraged. In addition, the grinder pump control panels would be outfitted with a quick generator fitting. If the regional power outage lasted more than a day or two, the District could go around and connect emergency generator(s) to each household and pump out its contents. Only the smallest of portable generators are required to operate the grinder pump.

How will the obsolete septic tanks be dealt with? :

      The state grant will cover the cost of decommissioning the tanks during the construction project. Once the new system is running and the house connected to it, the septic tank can be pumped out and then filled with gravel.

      Financial Questions :

How much would it cost? :

      We will know more when the planning studies are done. The initial planning phase (2016-2020) will be 100% paid for by two State planning grants. The engineering firm of Brelje & Race will be developing planning documents for both a drinking water and wastewater systems. During the planning phase system alternatives and their estimated associated costs will be presented to the Boonville Planners, our citizen advisory group. The estimates will include the cost of the planning, design, environmental documentation, construction and construction management efforts. Estimates of the amount each parcel will be charged to hook up and the associated monthly service charge will be presented for the preferred alternative. A rate study by Rural Community Assistance Corp (RCAC) will examine the cost per home for ongoing operations and maintenance.

Will it be affordable? :

      The chosen option MUST be deemed affordable in the view of the State before they would commit further funds to build it. The State uses an affordability formula that considers the debt service each household will be responsible for and the estimate monthly bill for service.

Who would pay for it? :

      Grants are available for construction in addition to planning. Since the the area is designated as "disadvantaged" based on the most recent census data, a significant portion of the capital costs could be covered by grants. Although grants would cover most laterals, commercial property owners should anticipate being responsible for the cost to connect to a utility (typically the work on their side of the property line). After project implementation, operating costs would be derived from ratepayer fees. There will be no cost to property owners located outside of the projected service zone(s). Property owners within the zone may be responsible for some costs even if they elect not to hook up.

Will a construction loan be required? :

      It is unlikely that a loan will be needed. At this time, given Boonville's rating (severely economically depressed), the State will cover between 75-100% of our construction costs. The State will consider the final percentage of their subsidy based on their 'affordability' formula. We expect that the State's portion will be 100%. The project will only be affordable if it is 100% financed.

Will property taxes increase? :

      According to Mendocino County Assessor's office (Sue Ranochek June 2018), there would be no automatic increase in the assessed values of properties due to the availability of water or wastewater hookups since properties are already assumed to have water and wastewater systems available (via wells and septic systems).

      Administrative Questions :

Who would administer the system/s? How would that work? :

      The AVCSD would be the administrator and operator of the system(s). The service areas for water and/or wastewater systems would lie within current AV Community Service District boundaries.

Would the AVCSD need to acquire more powers in order to provide water and/or wastewater services? :

      Yes, the AVCSD would need to apply to the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) to activate powers for Water and Sewer. The District already has those latent powers and has started discussion with LAFCo about their activation. The process will be completed after the rate schedule has been determined. .

How can I learn more? :

      Keep following our posts here. There are still unknowns at this time but information will be released as it becomes available. The CSD, engineers and our State funding consultant will be meeting throughout the planning process. We anticipate having several community meetings during the planning phase (2016-2020) where there will be an opportunity to learn more about your specific situation. We hope that there is a lot of interest and feedback throughout this process with the goal that the community is fully educated prior to voting to approve the funding and rate structure for the project. Please reach out to us if you have questions or concerns. Or, you can attend one of our meetings held at the Boonville Fire Station the first Thursday of each month at 10:30 am.

Related Documents

Community Meeting Zoom Recording April 24, 2023


Anderson Valley Hydrogeological Study, Nov, 2022,


Link to youtube video: Virtual Tour of MBR Treatment Plant May 25, 2021


Link to youtube video: Questions Answered after MBR Virtual Tour May 25, 2021


Slides for Presentation May 25, 2021


Water Testing in Boonville and SWRCB, Feb 11, 2020


State Water Board packet, classification of public water systems, Feb 5, 2020


Community Outreach Flyer Jan 22, 2020


Report for General Plan Housing Element, Anderson Valley, Aug 2019


Fair Board meeting notes Aug 12, 2019


Municipal Water Systems and Public Health Jan 28, 2019


Youtube link to NOP Video Nov 1, 2018, Part I


Youtube link to NOP Video Nov 1, 2018, Part II


NOP Presentation Nov 1, 2018


Notice of Preparation EIR, Oct 2018


CSDA Guide Proposition 218, 2013


Estimated Costs and Funding Sources for Water and Wastewater Treatment, June, 2018


Proposed Wastewater Treatment Boundary Aug, 2017


Wastewater Disposal at Airport Aug, 2017


Wastewater Disposal Asti Field with Spray Aug, 2017


Wastewater Disposal Asti Field Subsurface Aug, 2017


Wastewater Disposal Subsurface Trenching Aug, 2017


DRAFT Drinking Water Report June, 2017


Mendocino County Planning Dept Analysis, Oct 2015


Boonville Parcel Map, 2010 General Plan


Action Items from Mendocino County General Plan 2009


CRWQCB Monitoring Report for Jeffs Chevron, 2000


CRWQCB Monitoring Report for AV Bus Barn, 2004


Anderson Valley Groundwater Basin


Public Health Survey 1974


Boonville Planners/ Water Projects Committee

Transcript of Zoom Panel Discussion, Dec 3, 2020


Water Projects Committee Minutes, Oct 1, 2020


Progress Report Sept, 2019


Jan 29, 2019 Transcript of Meeting


Oct 12, 2017 Scoping Session


May 15, 2017 Drinking Water Proposal


Summary of Alpha Labs testing March, 2016


Meeting Notes Jan 12, 2016