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Yucca Valley Wastewater Project Moving Forward

By   /   February 11, 2013  /   11 Comments

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HDWDWastewater Logo (white background)The Hi-Desert Water District has kept their nose to the grindstone making steady progress on the sewer project with very little fanfare.  The Public Advisory Committee, consisting of 15 citizens, met this evening to work on the Low Income program to help seniors living in Phase One of the sewer project. Trying not to re-invent the wheel, they have reviewed several programs used successfully by other cities facing similar problems.

CFO/AGM Frank Luckino is concerned with the administrative costs and is quick to recommend the simple way of straight grants until the funds are used up versus a revolving fund that is paid back when the property sells which will help others at a future date. There are many pros and cons that need to be worked on before handing off this Low Income Assistance program for the HDWD Board approval. There was a casual polling of opinions to develop a consensus with five key members absent to weigh in.  I suggested sending the poll to them by email so that their voices would be heard which the members agreed was a good idea.

Prior to discussing this item, the committee voted on selecting a new chair and vice chair.  John Babrowski was selected to serve another year as the Chair, and Art Miller Jr. as Vice-Chair.  Babrowski was the author/signatory for the rebuttal in favor of Measure U.  Link  Art Miller Jr. donated $1,000.00 towards the Political Action Committee to promote Measure U and owns many properties in Phase One of the sewer project.  Measure U was a thirty-year 1% General Fund sales tax, which could not legally be dedicated to fund the sewers and was defeated by the voters November 2012.

Chair Babrowski suggested that I speak my three minutes during “Public Comments,” and not during the meeting.  I informed him the public has the right to comment on any item that has been placed on the agenda.  After one year as Chair, it seems Babrowski may not have an understanding of the public’s right to comment and should take some time to study the  basics of the Ralph M. Brown Act.

Kudos to the Wastewater Citizen’s Advisory Committee for working on the framework of  a Low Income Assistance program to be ready when the Citizen’s Initiative is passed funding this program. The Citizen’s Initiative will be a Special 1/2 % sales tax dedicated to fund the HDWD sewer project to lower the assessments with funds set aside to help the low-income. This Special Tax will require 2/3rds vote to pass.

For a quick peek at the rough draft of the program, click here link


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About the author

Margo Sturges

Yucca Valley Editor

Note: Margo Sturges has written many articles for Cactus Thorns and is the founder of Citizens4Change.info. Email contact: MargoSturgesYV(at)aol.com "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."- George Orwell


  1. Steve Whitten Steve Whitten says:

    I have a few questions about your statement. Maybe I’m missing something:

    “The Citizen’s Initiative will be a Special 1/2 % sales tax dedicated to fund the HDWD sewer project to lower the assessments with funds set aside to help the low-income.”

    1. In it’s current form, is CI planned to be a 30 year lock?

    2. Will only Seniors and Low-Income benefit from the Sales tax funds collected?

    3. Is the Private Property Assistance Program only for the low-income? If so why?

    4. Will only Phase 1 benefit from the sales tax or will Phases 2 and 3 also benefit?

    5. Do you feel all Yucca Valley property owners should benefit from the 1/2% sales tax collected for the Sewer? If not, why?

    Thanks is advance.

  2. The next Wpac meeting is scheduled for the 2nd Monday in March @ 5pm http://www.HDWD.com


  3. Steve Whitten Steve Whitten says:

    After reading the last meeting minutes, if I understand them correctly, the CI proposal of 1/2% Sales tax is to provide a Financial Assistance Program to approximately 840 Low-Income Families who make $17K or less in the Phase 1 area?

    All Property Owners within the Town Limits of Yucca Valley should benefit from any local sales tax increase.

  4. Main benefit for ALL residents? No more feces in drinking water….

  5. Time4David says:

    At first glance, this initiative to offer “low income” folks some type of relief by taxing everyone to provide such relief sounds like it’s not really fair. For instance, who’s going to decide exactly what qualifies as “low income”? Is it making below the poverty level, or 400% and below poverty?

    Why would some benefit while others, that have played by the same rules, but enjoy a reasonable level of comfort without being classified as poor, will have to pay the full cost? There are many, that can pay their bills, pay their mortgage, buy food, but any added expense means “there’s too much month at the end of the money.”

    Adding a tax to help some pay for their property improvements is taking the RESPONSIBILITY from the Homeowner and shifting it to the community as a whole. If that’s the case, then everyone should be able to benefit by getting some kind of relief on a scaled basis. For instance, any homeowner making $30,000 as a household (or less) gets the full benefit of the program. Those making between $30,000 – $50,000 get 50% benefit use of the program. Those making between $50,000 – $100,000 get 25% benefit use. Those making above $100,000 get a 5% benefit use.

    But the key here in my opinion is RESPONSIBILiTY. Isn’t the point of being a home owner to be able to take care of what you have? In my view of things, if someone doesn’t have the $$$ to hook up to the sewer, then maybe they don’t have the resources necessary to actually be a homeowner. For instance, one neighbor of mine doesn’t even own a broom! That might be his choice or it might a financial problem – but the lack of the broom or any gardening equipment means his front yard is a mess and in my opinion, is not a responsible home owner. Sure, he can own a home, but it doesn’t make him a good citizen in terms of keeping up his property. Why doesn’t the town care about a community tax to offer homeowner’s a Gardener at a low cost so Yucca Valley doesn’t look like a ghetto in some parts?

    The issue of responsibility means that some folks are not meant to be home owners. It’s like while folks can own a dog, any dog, some are not meant to be dog owners because they don’t know the first thing about the needs of caring for a dog – like walking on daily or every other day basis, or NOT chaining a dog for hours on end, or NOT walking a dog off leash on city streets.

    Responsibility to me means that the Town needs to define what “low income” is and exactly how many folks would benefit. Phase 1 doesn’t mean that everyone is a home owner. Just how many people claim to be home owners, but are just renters? And could a homeowner that is renting out the house, and has 5 properties, claim to be ‘low income’ if they can prove that all their ‘resources’ are being used to maintain these rental properties and they have no other ‘earned’ income except from rentals?

    There are many questions to be answered. But playing fair is important. Everyone should benefit if everyone will be taxed.

    • Steve Whitten Steve Whitten says:

      @Time4David – Excellent Points. All Citizen’s of Yucca Valley who will pay the local sales tax of 1/2% should benefit from said tax. Just like the automobile owners who purchase fuel and pay the taxes contained in the price per gallon benefit from the road improvement projects.

      @Margo – The use of the words “No more feces in drinking water..” is misleading.

      Feces, faeces, or fæces, also known as excrement, is a waste product from the digestive tract expelled through the anus or cloaca during a process called defecation.

      As I understand Mr. Short’s comments on in the Public Record Comments recorded 8/11/12, the USGS is stating Nitrates are the issue with the water quality.

      Nitrates and nitrites are nitrogen-oxygen chemical units which combine with various organic and inorganic compounds.

      Fully understanding the sewer is State Mandated, I find these particular comments of Mr. Short’s interesting. Similar to the same issue 29 Palms is now facing. The scientific data was in question:

      “The USGS has taken limited samples in our area. They point to the fact that the samples were done “in proximity to the percolation ponds.” The USGS has also pointed out that, after the initial samples were taken, additional samples showed that nitrate levels had dropped to within the allowable/safe levels.
      I am not aware of any continued monitoring or reports of ground water quality by the USGS. However, Hi‐Desert Water District has published its annual groundwater bulletin which proclaims that the water in our area is well with‐in EPA limits for all toxic substances. This would indicate that the nitrate problem is NOT an on‐going issue.

      The Peer reviews state that the higher nitrate levels are the result of the artificial recharge program. Additionally, Hi‐Desert Water District has plans to “Recycle” the treated water. Their plans include another recharge pond where they will allow the reclaimed waste‐water to percolate back into the aquifer (See Dr. Hunt’s question above). The belief of Hi‐Desert Water District is that any contaminants will be naturally filtered out before the treated water reaches the aquifer. This would help to create additional problems by washing more contaminants from the soil into the groundwater (again‐ See Dr. Hunt’s question).”

      Whether Yucca valley needs a sewer system or not is another discussion that can be debated but it doesn’t resolve the need for local action due to the mandate.

      • Over $300,000 Measure I funds paved 2 roads in Sky Harbor neighborhood with Councilman Dawn Rowe getting a new driveway out of the deal.

        There was NO benefit to the 98% majority of automobile owners paying that tax through fuel purchase. Measure I funds are supposed to be for HEAVILY traveled road repair in Yucca Valley.

        Mr. Whitten,your comment,”Just like the automobile owners who purchase fuel and pay the taxes contained in the price per gallon benefit from the road improvement projects,” may apply in 29Palms or elsewhere…this is Yucca Valley.

        Back to the Sewer Issue:

        As for the feces in the drinking water being misleading. Not….check out the TDS and HDWD Mark Ban’s plea to the Board to do a study on where they are traveling. Keywords: State Water Recharge

        Ban’s control to recharge just below the nitrate saturation level keep the tests results within the acceptable range, however, as the nitrates creep further down, this diminishes storage/recharge capability.

        Let’s add caffeine and prescription drugs to the drinking water problem too, further confirmation that humans are excreting into our drinking water. The membrane technology is too expensive to address removing pharmaceuticals and there is the Title 22 mandate before discharging into the ground. (Title 22, Chapter 3 of the California Code of Regulations, refers to tertiary-treated water produced from the three-stage treatment of municipal wastewater.)

        Natural nitrate levels in groundwater are generally very low (typically less than 10 mg/l NO3), but nitrate concentrations grow due to human activities, such as agriculture, industry, domestic effluents and emissions from combustion engines.

        Nitrates generally moves relatively slow in soil and groundwater:there is a lag time of approximately 20 years between the pollution activity and the detection of the pollutant in groundwater. For this reason, it is predicted that current polluting activities will continue to affect nitrate concentrations for several decades.

        However if the pressure in the aquifer is high, transport can be very rapid within the saturation zone.

        The clock is ticking, water storage is diminishing….

        • Steve Whitten Steve Whitten says:

          It is a mute point to debate whether we need the sewer or not. It’s water under the bridge because of the mandate.

          During some of my recent bicycle rides, I have observed Measure I funds at work in several neighborhoods in Yucca Valley to include the new section of Church Street.

          It’s interesting that you take the time out of your day to check on the Yard Art habits of our Council Members.

          Bottom line. 100% of the Community of Yucca Valley should benefit from the 1/2% sales tax, not a select few.

    • Hello Time4David,

      Let me clarify one thing, the low income program is presently being vetted by the Wastewater Public Advisory Committee of citizens representing all walks of life and backgrounds. There is a tenant from a mobile home parks, engineers, accountants, real estate agents, one woman, a manager of a large hotel and several that have backgrounds dealing in wastewater including a Board Member from Big Horn Desert View…a great mix of concerned citizens.

      The funding for this program will be a small percentage of the Yucca Valley dedicated sales tax to be set aside. While the Yucca Valley Real Estate market (read property taxes)may have leveled out from the free-fall of values, there is the possibility of another tumble if a program is not in place. This will help ALL of Yucca Valley to stabilize property values and remove the cloud of gloom for current and future residents, as in other communities with this program.

      As I stated in my post, there are the high costs of administrating the program to be considered. A sliding scale was a consideration at previous WPAC meetings for low income assistance or revolving fund to help more citizens.

      HDWD CFO Frank Luckino reports 60% of the parcels in Phase One are vacant lots. Only Owner-occupied SFR parcels will be eligible for the low income assistance which may be a flat $1,000 towards their private connection of the laterals to the main line.

      Please be sure to visit http://www.HDWD.com for more information, updates and meetings.

      Thank you for your comment.

  6. @Time4David:

    Establishing guidelines are not a problem or an issue. County, state and federal guidelines are already in place. It’s a misleading non-issue.

    Why should low-incomes get breaks? That is very callous position. Where are the grant-seekers?

    It’s obvious that Time4David hasn’t much concern for people that arguably could loose their homes. Much like a past YVTC, who kick seniors and low-income residents out in the streets of during the weekend in violation of california Laws. [see Time4David 4th & 5th paragraph]

    Time4David is right that there are many unanswered questions, but overall his comments are offensive.

  7. Mark Clemons Mark Clemons says:

    The issue of Yucca sewer is being bamboozled by those that are ether ignorant or positioning themselves to profit in one way or the other. The yucca citizens had best realize that the purposed legacy treatment plants are costly and out dated. Those in that legacy industry are trying their best to push these dinosaurs while they can. Even if it means spending big bucks to lobby state regulators, county supervisors and, and city manager. This will be a large money stream, many are looking at sticking their fingers in that stream.

    Those that live up in the affluent areas will get a pass so of course they will push the boondoggle, they have little compassion for those with less. They will even enjoy the extraction that is going to take place. Those in the less affluent areas that believe those that are up the hill sewers do not flow downhill to the same water source hold some blame.

    There is no ligament reason to force a hook up until the septic system fails, I believe that is the way it is handled in many areas, but those towns don’t phase it in no one gets a pass they all pay for the infrastructure even those up on the hill. If yucca is unwilling to participate in a basin wide solution they should at least demand all in their fair city pay, no passes for those that live in the affluent areas.

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