Opinion

Wednesday, Dec 11 2013 11:30 AM

Golden Hills Sanitation saga continues

Those of you following the sewer chronicles may remember that I wrote in April 2013 of the positive accomplishments of the Receiver, Clifford Bressler, in the year following his appointment in April 2012 by Kern County Superior Court to keep the wastewater plant operating.

To date, we have continued the successful operation of the wastewater treatment facility without one penny of outside assistance. Customer revenue has consistently exceeded operational expenses, albeit some months just barely. Supervisor Zack Scrivner in the public meeting held Monday night, Dec. 2, rightfully characterized us as running a "lean operation."

Meanwhile, we have been awarded three grant-funded opportunities, and we wish to publicly acknowledge the assistance we will be receiving.

The first, which has no designated dollar value, is a limited number of staff hours of technical assistance from California Rural Water Association, funded under a State Water Board program. We are frugally using those hours which have already provided us with invaluable technical direction.

Secondly, the County of Kern applied for and has been awarded a planning grant for up to $500,000 on behalf of the customers of the Golden Hills Sanitation Company to determine the most cost-effective, long-term solution for waste water treatment for the customers of the beleaguered utility. The State Water Board Division of Financial Assistance is providing the resources to hire a consultant to do an in-depth feasibility study.

This grant will also compensate Kern County for the oversight and significant effort that staff is putting into this project. The county is providing opportunity for the Receiver and the sanitation customers to remain engaged throughout this exhaustive process which should culminate in a recommendation anticipated by the spring of 2015.

Finally, I wish to thank our District 2 Supervisor, Zack Scrivner, for his efforts in helping to secure a $51,700 grant from Kern County general funds for necessary repairs to our sewer system.

Years of deferred maintenance at the plant has resulted in a list of improvements that are essential to continued operations.

The lift station at the corner of Woodford Tehachapi and White Pine Drive has been the site of numerous sewage spills over a period of many years and rehabilitation of that component of the collection system was critically needed. We are just completing this improvement, which included new equipment, a total revamping of the electrical system with the involvement of Southern California Edison, and necessary upgrading of the alarm system. Completion of this project should serve the community for many years for whatever long-term solution is implemented.

On behalf of the Receiver, I wish to express gratitude to the many agencies that are involved in resolving problems that have been in the making for many years. It is our hope that we get it right this time. The California Public Utilities Commission, the State Water Board, and the Regional Water Board in Fresno are all engaged in our situation and our contacts are a phone call or email away.

The California Rural Water Association and Self-Help Enterprises have incredibly knowledgeable and available staff at our disposal. Locally, Kern County and the Golden Hills Community Services District have both provided more assistance than we could ever acknowledge and the City of Tehachapi and Tehachapi-Cummings Water District have also provided support as a part of our Solutions Group.

The amazing number of agencies and people who have responded to the concerns of the customers of this little public utility is a noteworthy example of people working together for the common good.

But our job isn't done yet...

BARBARA MILLER is the Executive Administrative Assistant to Receiver Clifford Bressler of Clovis. She is the local contact for Golden Hills Sanitation Company and can be reached at 822-1700.

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