COUNTY SERVICE AREAS
As mentioned in the foreword to this section, the Public Works
Agency (PWA) operates and maintains five active County Service
Areas (CSA) which provide water and wastewater service to several
areas in the County. Each CSA is separately financed by
revenue from its customers. Although the systems are owned and operated
by Amador County, each CSA has an appointed advisory committee,
composed of system users, whose function it is to communicate
with PWA on matters that concern the system residents.
The review of CSAs revealed a number of issues that are best
discussed as separate topics. Accordingly, the methodology is
described for the overall CSA review, followed by a presentation
of facts and conclusions for each of the three issues listed
Management related problems.
Deficiencies in the water and wastewater systems.
Adequacy of staff and budget
Because many of the Grand Jury's recommendations are derived from
one or more of the topics listed above, all recommendations for
improvement of the CSAs are included as a final part of the CSA
Board of Supervisors
Deputy County Engineer
PWA Administrative Support Supervisor
Public Works Maintenance Superintendent
Manager, CSA #1 and 2
Manager, CSA #3
Manager, CSA #4 and 8
Board of Supervisors Public Works Committee
Director, Amador Economic Development Corporation
Director, General Services Administration
Amador Water Agency, General Manager and Director
Battalion Chief, Amador Fire Protection District
Chairperson, CSA #3 Water and Sewer Committee
CSA #1 water system
CSA #2 water system
CSA #3 water and waste water systems
CSA #4 wastewater system
CSA #8 water and wastewater systems
Amador Regional Sanitation Authority (ARSA) wastewater transport
Amador Water Agency Amador Canal
Plans of CSA and ARSA water and wastewater systems
1999-2000 Final County Budget
PWA job descriptions
Current rate sheets for all CSA's
Amador County Policy and Procedures Manual
State water and wastewater permits issued to Amador County
California Public Utility Commission Rules
California Safe Drinking Water Act & Related Laws, 6th Edition,
1998-1999 Amador County Grand Jury Final Report, July, 1999
Amador County PWA, "Amador County Service Area #3 - Water System
Improvements, Summary Report, July 1995"
SPH Associates, "Surface Water Feasibility Study - CSA #3,
Black and Veatch Corporation, "California Water Charge Survey,
The Chlorine Institute, Inc., "Water and Wastewater Operators
Chlorine Handbook, March, 1999"
Numerous letters, consulting engineers reports on water supply,
internal reports, personnel records, newspaper articles and other
data furnished by several Amador County agencies and departments.
Management Related Problems
The three CSA managers report to the Public Works Maintenance
Superintendent. Every work day, the three CSA mangers meet with
Public Works Maintenance Superintendent at 7 am to discuss the
day's work. The meetings are held at the County corporation yard
Most Monday mornings, a safety meeting is conducted by the Public
Works Maintenance Superintendent for the CSA managers.
The Public Works Maintenance Superintendent has little experience
or training in water or wastewater operations and maintenance.
A computer-based supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)
system was installed in 1995 on the CSA #3 water system. The
SCADA system transmits operating data to a central station to
enable operating decisions to be made more efficiently.
The PWA management staff reportedly access the SCADA system from
remote locations without coordinating with the CSA #3 manager.
The CSA #3 manager has received no formal training in the proper
use of the SCADA system and the operating manuals are reportedly
kept at the PWA's main office in Jackson.
There do not appear to be any operating and/or maintenance
manuals for the CSAs, nor does there appear to be a preventive
maintenance program in place.
Relationships between the PWA Director and CSA #1 and #2 Advisory
Committees are generally satisfactory. However, the relationship
between the PWA Director and the CSA #3 committee is acknowledged
to be strained by both parties.
The CSA #3 office facilities are satisfactory. However, the CSA
#1 & 2 office is inadequate and there is no shop area provided.
The CSA #4 & 8 situation is even worse; there are no office or
shop facilities whatsoever, forcing the manager to conduct all his business from the cab of his truck.
Deficiencies in the Water and Wastewater Systems
The "California Waterworks Standards" (Title 22, Division 4,
Chapter 16 of the California Code of Regulations) specifies
minimum acceptable standards for water systems. Standards
include: requirements for storage;
minimum service pressure [20 pounds per square inch gage (psig)];
avoidance of dead end water mains; valve and hydrant spacing and
minimum size for water mains (4-inch diameter).
- The California Public Utility Commission (PUC)
regulates investor owned utilities in California. Although the
County water systems do not fall under PUC jurisdiction, the PUC
standards are deemed applicable. They include such things as:
normal operating pressures (40 to 125 psig); minimum size for water mains (
6-inch diameter); and fire flow requirements ( 500 to 1000
gallons per minute ).
- The National Board of Fire Underwriters (NBFU)
publishes standards for fire flow requirements. Using the formula
developed by NBFU, a
community with a population of 1,000 would require a fire flow of
1,000 gpm for four hours.
- The transportation of chlorine is regulated by the
United States Department of Transportation (DOT). Applicable DOT
regulations appear in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations
(49CFR). Requirements for safe handling of chlorine in water and
wastewater facilities are described in the Chlorine Institute's
"Water and Wastewater Operators Chlorine Handbook".
- There are no overall as-built maps of the water and
wastewater systems. The maps given to the Grand Jury for study
included construction drawings and small scale drawings marked up
by the CSA managers. Therefore, information derived from the maps
this report can be considered approximate only.
- The CSA #1 water system serves Silver Lake Pines
Subdivision Units 1A, 1B, 2, 3, 4, and 5; Sierra Highlands
Subdivision Units 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and
a portion of Tiger Creek Estates. Because of the hilly terrain,
the system is divided into eight "pressure zones". A pressure
zone is defined as a portion of the overall system that has its
pressure regulated by gravity from a
storage reservoir, by a booster pumping station, or by a pressure
regulating valve from a zone of higher pressure. Each of the
pressure zones in CSA #1 was analyzed separately and compared
with industry standards. Deficiencies noted in the CSA #1 system
are summarized in Table 1 and described below:
Forty percent of the water mains in CSA #1 are 3-inch diameter or
- In Sierra Highlands Units 1, 2, and 3, only 13 percent
of the mains are 4-inch diameter or greater.
- In pressure zone #8, 87 percent of the water mains are
2-1/2-inch diameter or less.
- Two pressure zones contain no storage and three of the
zones had inadequate valving. Five zones contain excessively
long, undersized dead-end mains.
- Fire hydrant spacing is generally inadequate. There are
2-1/2- inch diameter "wharf" hydrants and 1-1/2- inch diameter
standpipes, both of which are considered inadequate for fire
- There are no security fences at the McKenzie Tank or the
- The McKenzie Tank has no access ladders, either inside
or outside. In addition, the tank is in need of major repairs
and corrosion protection.
- The CSA #2 water system serves Mace Meadows Subdivision
Unit 1 and
adjoining parcels. A summary of the deficiencies noted in the CSA
#2 system is given below:
Seventy four percent of the water mains are 3-inch diameter or
- Sixty five percent of the water mains are 2-inch
diameter or less.
- Forty five percent of the water mains are 1-1/2-inch
- Valving and hydrants do not meet acceptable standards.
- The system contains excessively long, undersized
- There are two storage tanks in the CSA #2 system.
Neither of them is fenced. The Mace Tank is an old 40,000 gallon
redwood tank subject to leakage. It has no ladders and the roof
reportedly is in need of repair or replacement.
- The CSA #3 water system serves Lake Camanche Village.
Deficiencies noted in this system are described below:
The CSA #3 wastewater system consists of a collection
system, four lift stations, a treatment plant and an effluent
disposal system. Deficiencies
In the wastewater system include the following:
- There is a high percentage of unaccounted for water.
This is confirmed in a report by the PWA, dated July 18, 1995,
which states: "Various estimates for water loss in the system by
County Public Works Agency/CSA #3 engineering staff have exceeded
- With the exception of Pumping Station #12, and Pumping
Station #9, well sites, pumping stations and storage sites are
either not fenced or inadequately fenced.
- With the exception of Pumping Station #12, storage
tanks are equipped with unsafe ladders, both outside and inside
the tanks. It is noted that the 1998-99 Grand Jury Final Report
recommended the replacement of these ladders and the PWA response
indicated that replacement was "a priority".
- Chlorine cylinders are transported from the point of
delivery at the wastewater treatment plant to Pumping Stations
#6, #9 and #12 in a County pickup truck.
- Approved breathing apparatus are not provided at any of
the three buildings which house chlorinators.
- Leaks were noted in some of the redwood storage tanks.
- At Pumping Station #10 a diesel storage tank, for the
emergency generator, is mounted on a fragile wooden structure and
there is no provision for capturing spillage of diesel fuel.
- At Pumping Station #9, the chlorine room exhaust fan is
located near the ceiling rather than at the floor level.
- At Pumping Station #12 there is no exhaust fan in the
CSA #4 provides wastewater service to the Martell
area. The facilities include a collection system, four lift
stations, a raw wastewater equalization basin, which is currently
out of service, and a pipeline that delivers sewage to the Sutter
Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Deficiencies noted in this
system include the following:
None of the four sewage lift stations has security fencing.
- The sewage lift stations are all located in close
proximity to residences, and all are unsightly.
- Lift Station C is located adjacent to a creek which
flows directly to Lake Camanche. Power failures have resulted in
overflows in the past.
- A review of sewage flow charts at the wastewater
treatment plant indicates the probability of high rates of
infiltration and inflow. Unconfirmed reports indicate an average
dry weather flow of 20 to
30 gallons per minute (gpm). Average wet weather flows
approximate 50 gpm, indicating an infiltration problem. Peak
instantaneous winter flows can be as high as 400 gpm which is
indicative of major sources of direct inflow.
- In April, 1999, a survey was made by the California
Rural Water Association of the extent of sludge deposits in the
aerated lagoon at the wastewater treatment plant. Their report
indicated a significant build up of sludge with an accompanying
in the capacity of the pond. They also noted symptoms of
anaerobic conditions developing in the pond.
- The effluent pond reportedly overflowed in 1997 and
1998. In winter, the ground is saturated, flows to the pond are
high and cloud cover
reduces evaporation; all factors which lead to the possibility of
CSA #8 provides water and wastewater service to
industries in the Carbondale Industrial Park. Deficiencies noted
in the CSA #8 system include:
None of the sewage lift stations is adequately fenced.
- The lining of the wastewater equalization basin, which
is currently out of service, has deteriorated. The cost of
putting the basin back into service will be significant.
Water from the well reportedly has a high pH and cannot be used
as potable water. Potable water must be trucked in.
- The access road to the well site is impassable in the
- A "stock watering trough", located near the well, poses
a threat of contamination.
- The well discharge line is located underground near the
tile plant's gray water system, raising the possibility of an
undetected cross connection occurring.
Adequacy of Staff and Budget
One employee is assigned to operate both CSA #1 and #2. One
employee is assigned to CSA #3 and one employee is assigned to
operate CSA #4,
CSA #8 and ARSA. The three employees help each other when a job
requires more than one person.
- The CSA managers have insufficient time to accomplish
needed tasks. This fact is confirmed by the PWA Director's
response to a 1998-99 Grand Jury recommendation where he stated,
"Annual inspections generate a list of required work and a needs
list, or a 'wish list'. The list is to be kept with the
maintenance person at all times and to be used as a reference as
to priorities. What usually hap
pens is, the maintenance person is overloaded with tasks and can
only react instead of being pro-active". (emphasis added).
Interviews confirm that maintenance is done on a reactive
emergency basis rather than being planned in an orderly fashion.
- The 1998-1999 Grand Jury recommended that additional
staff be added to CSA #3. This recommendation was rejected by the
PWA Director on the grounds that it would be too costly (see
- The County contracts for some services. For example, AWA
provides meter reading services, and mechanical help is obtained
through a blanket contract with a local mechanical contractor.
- The cost to the County of using AWA for meter reading is
about $7,000 to $8,000 per year.
- Each CSA is financially self-supporting. Costs of
operation and maintenance are recovered through rates charged for
water and wastewater services.
- A 1999 report prepared by Black and Veatch Corporation,
surveyed 436 California water service areas for water rates.
Based on a usage of 1,500 cubic feet per month, monthly costs for
residential use for water systems in California ranged from a
$91.24 to a low of $5.97. The average rate
was $27.04. For cities under 2000 population, the range was
$80.35 to $10.50, with an average of $31.21 per month.
- Based on a water usage of 1,500 cubic feet per month,
the current rates for the CSAs #1, 2 and 3 would be as follows:
CSA #1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $46.70 per month
- CSA #2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $44.65 per month
- CSA #3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $29.80 per month
- For each CSA, the Amador County budget shows a
line-item entitled "provision for reserves". The amount shown for
that item, however, includes several categories of reserves, only
one of which is available for replacement of plant and equipment.
That category is designated as the "facility replacement
- "Provision for Reserves" and Facility Replacement
Reserves" for the CSAs at the end of FY 1998-99 were as follows
in the Amador County Budget:
|CSA ||Provision |
|CSA #1 water
| CSA # 2 water
| CSA #3 water
| CSA #3 wastewater
| CSA #4 wastewater
- CSAs are charged overhead from GSA, the Auditor and
PWA. Some of the charges are direct labor charges of support
staff, while others are allocated costs. For FY 1998-99, the
overheads, expressed as a percentage of total expenses less the
cost of fixed
CSA #1 water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.6%
CSA #2 water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.7%
CSA #3 water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28.4%
CSA #3 wastewater . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25.6%
CSA #4 wastewater . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.7%
Management Related Problems
Interviews provide evidence of serious management problems with
respect to the CSAs. These include low morale, poor
communications and a lack of management attention and direction.
- The amount of supervision given to the CSA managers is
inadequate, due principally to their direct supervisor's lack of
knowledge and experience in
water and wastewater operations. In addition, there is a low
level of management attention from the PWA Director and his
- Based upon the poor condition of many of the CSA
facilities, coupled with the inability of the CSA managers to
keep up with their duties, it is evident that little or no
routine, or preventive, maintenance is performed. This conclusion
is reinforced by the lack of a written preventive maintenance plan.
- Because the CSA #3 manager has not been trained in the
use of the SCADA system, the operational advantages of that
system are diminished.
- Water and wastewater systems are often not operated in
the most efficient manner because the CSA managers are not
entrusted to make critical operating decisions.
- The practice of requiring the three CSA managers to
attend daily briefing sessions at the PWA Corporation Yard is
wasteful of resources.
- Water and wastewater safety training sessions conducted
by a person who, by his own admission "doesn't speak the
language", is counterproductive.
- The CSA managers should have adequate office and shop
facilities to properly perform their duties.
Deficiencies in the Water and Wastewater Systems
There is an implied obligation on the part of a public utility to
provide a high level of service to its customers. That obligation
is not being met by Amador County. When the facilities of the
CSAs are compared with regulatory requirements, normal indus
try standards and good management practices, they fall far short
of what the customers should expect.
It is recognized that the Board of Supervisors and the PWA
Director must be fiscally responsible. However, there seems to be
an overriding concern by both to keep costs low, even at the
expense of employee safety, employee morale and the need to
an adequate level of service to the public. The consequences of
system deficiencies, created in part by this policy, are
The most serious system deficiency is found in the CSA #1 and
CSA #2 water systems. The high percentage of undersized water
with long runs of small diameter dead end mains and substandard
fire hydrants makes it impossible to effectively combat a
structure fire. In this heavily wooded area, the inability to
produce sufficient fire flow could have
catastrophic consequences. The Amador Fire Protection District
(AFPD) has stated that they would respond to a fire with a water
tanker truck, but the maximum size tanker available is only 3,200
gallons. Considering that the NBFU recommends a fire flow of
1000 gallons per minute for four
hours, the volume of water that could be delivered by AFPD from a
tanker truck is considered inadequate to combat a major structure
- The preponderance of small diameter water mains in CSA
#1 and CSA #2 results in low system pressure under high demand
conditions. Over 40 percent of the water mains in CSA #1 are
smaller than the accepted minimum of 4-inch diameter. The
CSA #2 is even more critical with 74 percent of the water mains
being of substandard size.
- Long runs of substandard size dead end water mains not
only produce insufficient flow for fire suppression, but they
also contribute to water quality problems.
- The lack of security fencing at storage tanks, pumping
stations and other facilities invites vandalism and is a public
safety concern. The County
would be subject to liability in the event of an injury due to
unauthorized entry onto their property.
- Employee safety is compromised by the lack of ladders on
storage tanks, the lack of emergency breathing apparatus at
chlorination facilities, and the unsafe transportation of
- In the CSA #3 water system, there appears to be an
unacceptably high rate of unaccounted for water. Some of this can
be attributed to leaks in storage tanks and inaccurate metering,
but most of the excessive loss is likely the result of pipe
leaks. In an area of water shortage, a 30 percent loss should be
a major cause for concern.
- In the CSA #3 wastewater system, liability and public
safety concerns arise due to the lack of security fencing at the
sewage lift stations. Because the lift stations are in close
proximity to homes, concerns are also raised about aesthetics.
concerns apply to CSA #4, where lift stations are also
inadequately protected by security fencing.
- The wastewater treatment plant in CSA #3 will soon be
overtaxed if high rates of infiltration and direct inflow are
allowed to continue. Capacity is also diminished by the build up
of sludge in the aerated lagoon.
- There are a number of problems with the water system at
CSA #8. The major deficiency is the inability to provide an
adequate source of potable water. Without an assured supply of
water, the County's goal of encouraging industrial growth in the
Carbondale Industrial Park will not be met.
- The PWA appears to be obligated to provide wastewater
services to CSA #8. However, there is inadequate planning as to
how this service might be provided for future industrial
development. This also may inhibit the County's ability to
Adequacy of Staff and Budget
The CSAs are grossly understaffed. The worst example is CSA #3
where a single employee is required to operate and maintain a
sewage treatment plant and disposal system, four sewage lift
stations, three wells, four water pumping stations, chlorination
facilities, a water distribution system and a sewage collection
system. Similar inequities exist in the other CSAs. Understaffing
results in deferred maintenance and employee dissatisfaction.
- Employee safety is jeopardized by inadequate staffing.
The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(CalOSHA) requires two employees to perform certain tasks, but
with only one operator in each area, expediency sometimes prompts
an unsafe approach.
- The deteriorating condition of many of the CSA
facilities is testimony to the effects of a deferred maintenance
policy and the lack of a preventive maintenance program.
- By rejecting the 1998-1999 Grand Jury recommendation for
additional staff solely on financial grounds, the PWA Director
has shown disregard for employee working conditions, employee
safety and the need to provide an acceptable level of service to
- To provide a proper level of service and a safe working
environment for employees, the County will have to commit to a
long term program of system upgrading. Rate increases will be
required to implement such a plan.
- A comparison of water rates for the CSAs with rates for
other water systems in California indicates that, while on the
high side of the averages,
the CSA rates are well below the maximums encountered elsewhere.
Therefore, although rate increases are politically unpopular,
they are not infeasible.
- The PWA has not accumulated sufficient reserves for
replacement to correct the many system deficiencies. In
addition, the systems having the greatest needs appear to have
the least reserves.
- Overhead charges to CSAs range from 12.7 to 28.4 % of
operating expenses. The reasons for the relatively high
percentage of overhead expenses and the wide range are not
The Board of Supervisors should assess the effect of current PWA
management practices on the morale and efficiency of the CSA
managers and take action to improve communications and
supervision. This matter is addressed in more detail in the
the PWA review entitled, "Agency Organization and Management".
- The PWA should develop a comprehensive five-year
tactical plan for bringing the water and wastewater facilities up
to a reasonable standard. The plan should focus on the most
critical issues of employee safety and water system capacity in
the early years, with lower priority items being
addressed in later years. The plan should detail how the
improvements are to be financed, and it should include a
procedure for annual monitoring of
progress by the Board of Supervisors. Matters that should be
included in the plan are listed below:
Replace substandard water mains so that the minimum size mains
are 4-inch diameter.
- Eliminate long dead end water mains by "looping" the
- Provide valving to meet the requirements of the
California Waterworks Standards.
- Replace standpipes and wharf hydrants with hydrants
meeting NBFU standards.
- Provide security fencing at all water and wastewater
- Replace unsafe ladders on storage tanks.
- Provide approved emergency breathing apparatus at all
- Conduct a leak detection survey in the CSA #3 water
system and make repairs so that unaccounted for water is reduced
to about 10 percent.
- Conduct an infiltration and inflow study of the CSA #3
sewage collection system and take whatever steps are indicated to
reduce infiltration and inflow to acceptable levels.
- Repair leaks in storage tanks and make other repairs as
necessary to ensure adequate service. Progressively replace old
storage tanks with new ones.
- Construct a collection basin under the diesel storage
tank at Pumping Station #10 in CSA #3, and reinforce the tank
- Provide adequate ventilation facilities at all chlorine
- Provide an emergency generator at sewage lift station C
in CSA #3.
- Remove accumulated sludge from the aerated lagoon at
the CSA #3 Wastewater Treatment Plant.
- Repair deteriorating buildings.
- Prepare adequate as-built maps of all the water and
- The Board of Supervisors should carefully examine the
staffing needs of the CSAs and provide an adequate budget to
ensure a good working environment, employee safety and proper
maintenance of facilities.
- Add at least one, and preferably two, full-time
employees to assist the CSA managers. Eliminate the need to
contract with AWA for meter reading by assigning that duty to one
of the new employees.
- Establish a clearly defined decision-making process so
that decisions are made at an appropriate management level. The
process should include a procedure for communicating and
documenting critical decisions.
- Train the CSA #3 manager in the use of the SCADA system
and make that person the system controller with day-to-day
responsibility for system operation.
- Assign one of the CSA managers as safety officer and
train that person to conduct meaningful safety training. The
safety officer should be responsible for advising the PWA
Director on all safety matters.
- Provide adequate office and shop space for the CSA #1
and #2 manager and the CSA #4 and #8 manager.
- Review the requirements of 49CFR and revise the method
of transporting chlorine cylinders to conform to that code.
- Develop a comprehensive preventive maintenance program.
The plan should describe the required maintenance and frequency
for every item of equipment and plant. It should also include a
section on monitoring and
documentation to ensure the work gets done.
- The PWA Director should meet with each CSA Advisory
Committee and inform them of: (a) the extent of system
deficiencies, (b) agency plans for progressive improvements to
the systems, (c) the estimated cost of such a plan, and (d) the
on the rates for water and wastewater service.
- In future years, provide a separate line-item in the
County Budget which identifies the "facility replacement"
component of reserves.
- Commission an independent financial and management
audit of the CSAs to ensure that such things as overhead and
allocations are being properly accounted for, and that the rate
structures are fairly applied.
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