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Developer seeks recycled water exemption

By From page A9 | February 26, 2014

The developer of Carson Creek off of Latrobe Road in El Dorado Hills is seeking an exemption from the El Dorado Irrigation District’s requirement that recycled water be used “wherever economically and physically feasible.”

Lennar Homes representative Bob Shattuck said the requirement that his 1,240-lot subdivision pay for a $13 million recycled water storage tank and other recycled water infrastructure would make the project economically infeasible. He estimated the cost of recycled water at $30,000 per house for his project. “That’s very expensive for the first drop (of water) and we don’t think we’re going to take a lot of drops,” he said.

Carson Creek is planned as an “active adult community,” with single-story houses having “a very large footprint.”

He said the development would be water efficient and have “little landscaping.” The minimal landscaping would be a sales feature.

“I’m concerned we never know what’s going to happen down the road with the state and the feds” regarding mandates, said Director George Osborne, who suggested Lennar homes put in the purple pipes for future recycled water, but not the expense of adding in recycled water meters and the recycled water tank. “I don’t think to put that requirement in would not be infeasible.”

Shattuck said that Lennar Homes had a “long history of recycled water.”

At 12-15 units per acre, “There is not a lot of space for turf,” Shattuck said. “It’s still a shaky world out there. We’re fighting for feasibility.”

“Show us how we can save 500 acre-feet (of water). That would be a powerful argument for me,” said Director Dale Coco.

EID currently supplements recycled water with an average of 530 acre-feet of potable water, according to Elizabeth Wells, engineering manager for wastewater and recycled water.

Board President Alan Day asked how “economically feasible” is defined in the board’s recycled water policy.

“It is not defined in policy,” said General Counsel Tom Cumpston. “It’s your policy. You have discretion to decide.”

“One of our goals is to extend our water supply. Have you considered having no lawns?” Day asked of Shattuck.

“Our plans have a small amount of turf — a pee patch (for dogs),” Shattuck said.

Day said he was worried that, though a homeowners association would control the front yard, a homeowner might put in a lot of water-hungry turf in the backyard.

“That’s what I meant — we’re at the stage where we can write the rules,” Shattuck said.

“I would need to see more updated figures on (water) usage,” Director Greg Prada said.

“Any consideration to use artificial turf?” asked Osborne.

“Certainly — private parks, clubhouse facilities. We’ll look at all of that. Recycled water is a limited resource right now,” Shattuck said.

In answer to Prada, Shattuck said the time horizon for the project is about five years. “We expect to do well if we can contain costs,” he said.

“What I’ve taken is, let’s see how much water they can save. I think I’ve got enough to package something for the board,” said General Manager Jim Abercrombie. Though he warned that merely putting in purple pipes would leave the issue of the tank. “Who pays for that? I get concerned about deferring capital expenditures. We don’t want our assets deferred out so future ratepayers have to pay for it.”

Michael Raffety


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