Men’s Club: Spring 2016 Update

April provided us a look into the mind of an artist and a less enjoyable look at the hard decisions of managing water during drought.
Our first guest speaker, Robert Richert, gave us an exhilarating look through A Window Into the Artist’s Creative Mind.
Robert majored in Scientific Illustration after serving in VietNam and learned how to apply that knowledge and discipline to the creation of art. Thirty-four years later, he reveals that emotion combined with talent and technique, enables him to interpret the beauty of Nature. His preference is to work in the
studio using his own photos for reference, rather than paint on site outdoors. Rather than interpreting a scene literally, he frequently combines multiple elements of different photos (and artistic license) to give his paintings rich detail and exciting composition. As he executes his intricate works, he said he feels like an ant as he works and reworks each minute detail.
We viewers were visually delighted as Robert showed us how his paintings evolve during each step. As the elements of composition, color, value (light and dark) and texture are added, the process reminded me of a time-lapse photo of a flower blossom opening. (http://www.richertart.com/html/soy_01.html)
We were particularly impressed as he shared how an object can be added to a scene that will stop the eye or direct the viewer in a way critical to enjoying the scene. A final highlight was his emotional story of one of his commissioned works that was destroyed when the owner’s home burned. Robert painted them a near duplicate, but his real reward was the gratitude of the couple that now had a new foundation for their memories.
Our speakers on April 19 were our own Rick Erkenoff and Bill Green, plus Andrew Burnhart, the General Manager of the South Coast Water District. In addition to being in the Men’s Club, Rick is vice president and Bill is a director on the South Coast Water District Board. We were fortunate to get a well-informed overview of the drought that we are having in California, the actions being considered by the board to provide a stable supply in the future, and the Board’s rationale for upcoming water increases.
Currently, we are supplied with 90% of our water from the Colorado River Aqueduct. What about all of the water in Northern California? Fifty percent of it flows out under the Golden Gate, 40% is for agricultural use, and about 5% is available for use in the northern and 5% for the southern part of the state (additionally, southern California is on a 20% state allocation from the northern water supply). The hard facts are: we have about 7 days of water supply in nearby storage and we depend on the Colorado River. One long-term solution to this risky situation might be the proposed Doheny Ocean Desalination facility that could supply 15 million gallons a day. The Board believes the Doheny Project could be producing water as early as 2019.

Now that we are assured that the Board is forward looking and planning for the future, what about this rumored rate increase? That news is less comforting. In short, the Board has proposed a new rate structure that is based on taxing each water meter to pay for fixed costs of the operation, and paying for variable costs by setting rates for actual water used. This kind of rate structure is particularly stressing on HOAs like Niguel Shores who have invested in recycled- water irrigation, because we have a large number (66) of recycled water meters. The Cost of Service and Rate Study being prepared for the Board recommends a new $1375 charge per 2” Recycle Water Meter on the Tax Bill. The Board’s proposal is that the SCWD customers have been subsidizing the Fix Cost of Recycle Water and only charging 90% of Potable Water rates, however due to the San Juan Capistrano lawsuit government agencies can no longer subsidize rates and must charge the actual cost of water production and delivery. There is some possibility to reduce (not offset) this impact because the Niguel Shores Manager’s office is working with the Board to find a way to reduce the number of meters and help find an equitable solution for the recycled-water cost increases.
—Jerry Allen

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