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By Roz Rogoff

We heard you

Uploaded: Jun 9, 2011

Tuesday night I attended the DSDSD Board meeting when the Directors would be approving the 2012 Budget and 2011-2012 Strategic Plan. Sue Stephenson, Community Affairs Supervisor, told me the Directors would be voting on posting Staff Reports on the DSDSD website at this meeting.

I downloaded the Strategic Plan from the DSRSD website and did a search for staff reports and TV30. Neither came up, so I went to the meeting to ask again that meetings be videotaped for replay on TV30 and Staff Reports be put online.

After I gave my impassioned plea, newly elected Director Dawn Benson smiled and said, "We heard you." Stephenson showed me additions to the plan, "Examine feasibility and regularity of posting Board and Committee Agenda packets to the internet," and "Examine feasibility of video and or audio recordings of District Board meetings with keyword search functionality." If these are feasible, the District will do them.

Sue told me TV30 wanted too much money for videotaping meetings, but audio recordings might be a good start. The District already makes audio recordings for transcribing the minutes, but these are not "broadcast quality." She wanted to find an audio recording program that would also convert the audio of the meetings into written minutes. That would, in effect, kill two birds with one check.

The District is planning to upgrade their IT systems as part of their Strategic Plan, so if anyone knows how to do this you should contact Sue Stephenson at (925) 875-2295.

Later in the meeting I asked where these new services are in the Budget. General Manager, Bert Michalczyk said they are not in the budget now, but an amendment could be added later to cover the cost. The Directors unanimously approved the new FY 2011-2012 Budget.

Residents need to keep track of how DSRSD operates, even if everything is on the up and up. Most rate payers really don't know how the District operates or what it is doing. I was, once again, the only resident at this meeting. There were a couple of representatives from Developers who spoke on the District's increase in Capacity fees. The rest of the people at this meeting were District employees who helped prepare the Budget.

Humans need water to live. We have three main sources of water: public or private utilities like DSRSD or EBMUD; wells, creeks, and rainwater storage; or commercially supplied bottled water.

Creeks and streams with pure drinking water are not easy to find in populated areas. Wells are not usually permitted where there is a municipal water service, and even in rural areas wells can become contaminated by insecticides, fertilizers, or over use. Bottled water is expensive and wasteful.

I attended the showing of Tapped at the Library on June 5th. This film was about how big corporations are taking well and creek water to bottle and sell at high prices. The film starts out in Poland Springs, Maine, where Nestle took over the spring for their commercial venture. The movie was very critical of Nestle for taking a natural resource that should belong to residents of the state.

I remember Poland Spring water from years ago. I spent my summers in Maine in the 1950's. I don't know who owned or bottled the water then, but it was sold locally in Maine and New England. According to the Poland Springs website its curative powers date back to 1793. The original spring cannot produce enough water for the increased volume of sales, so Nestle mixes water from other locations throughout Maine with water from the original spring. Nestle also bottles Arrowhead water in California.

I used to buy bottled spring water 45 years ago when it came from real springs, but since the bottled water industry took over, who knows where the water comes from or what's in it. Now I use a Soda Club carbonator to fizz my East Bay MUD tap water. I even had a link to Soda Club on my old San Ramon Observer website to try to make a few bucks on click-through's. I never did. Soda Club changed its name to Soda Stream and is now sold in upscale department stores and supermarkets like Draggers' in Blackhawk.

For the last three years I've been collecting and storing my own rainwater. I recently had two more water barrels put in my yard. Now I have storage for up to 5,600 gallons of rainwater. This is not approved for drinking (potable), but it can replace potable water for other uses. The 2,500 gallons on the North side of my house are used for laundry. The 3,100 gallons on the South side (see photo) are used for drip irrigation of a drought tolerant front yard.

Putting up rain barrels is easy. Everyone should have some stored water to be prepared for drought or fire or whatever might cut off your water supply.