Normally, Woodbrige Irrigation District board meetings are sedate sessions that revolve around discussions about project updates and precipitation levels. Thursday was different. The meeting featured several board members incensed with the county's public works department over a permit for the district's new proposed office.
"When they screwed up crossings and needed us to fix it, we did," said WID board president Bill Stokes. "Let's see how it goes the next time they need something from us."
The delay, it appears, is related to an encroachment permit needed to run utility lines under Lower Sacramento Road for a new district headquarters bulding.
"It's funny," said district general manager Andy Christensen. "We didn't need a permit to build a dam but we need one for an office."
The board's president was especially critical of the county's public works department.
"How many encroachment permits can they really be dealing with right now?" Stokes said, alluding to the region's relative lack of new construction. "It's a bunch of workers drawing the process out so they will have job security."
The district currently operates out of a 750-square-foot office building on Lower Sacramento Road in Woodbridge and is looking to construct a 5,000-square-foot building directly across the street from its current home. The district needs an encroachment permit to run stormwater and water lines under Lower Sacramento Road and filed for the permit in October. An encroachment permit is required before the district can obtain a building permit. A county official said the process is nearly complete and was slowed by a lack of employees and an annexation action.
An official from the county's public works department said the division overseeing the process has experienced several cutbacks in personnel.
"That department does not have a full-time staff," said Alex Chetley, senior civil engineer for the county's public works department. "The staff in the surveyor department has been reduced to match the level of development in the area."
Before the encroachment permit can be issued, an annexation is required. The proposed location is not currently in a county maintenance district, which could provide drain and water service, and must be annexed into one, Chetley said.
Mokelumne Acres Maintenance District is slated to provide the services, he said.
The county normally finishes the annexation process before issuing an encroachment permit. The annexation should be completed within the next two weeks and the encroachment permit should be issued at that time, he said.
New superintendent named
Before the board members expressed their displeasure with the progress of their new office, they unanimously appointed Todd Versteeg as the district's new superintendent. Versteeg earned his bachelors of science at Sacramento State in 2006 and has worked for the district since 2008.
"He's a good fit and he knows the system," said Christensen.
Versteeg replaces Jim Shults, who worked for the district for nearly 30 years and retired in December.
December rainfall in the Mokelumne River Basin
More than 15 inches of rain fell in the Mokelumne River Basin in December, reported Russ Taylor, a supervising hydrographer for East Bay Municipal Utilities District. The rainfall was 186 percent of what the area receives during the average December. However, the basin is only at 40 percent of its average January rainfall total. Even though the totals have been down this month, both October and November were above average, Taylor said.
Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at firstname.lastname@example.org.