Council Approves Agreement to Aid County Island Residences with Dry Wells

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Michael Cooke, Municipal Services Director for the City of Turlock presented an item to the City Council Tuesday, regarding a motion to authorize a blanket Out-of-Boundary Service Agreement for water services for property located within an unincorporated island of Stanislaus County, outside of City Limits.

In emergency situations or exceptional cases, the City of Turlock will provide water service to properties outside the City’s limits. These instances can include well failure or public health and safety issues. But recently, as the City Council packet explains, the occurrence has become more common due to the drought.

According to a Council synopsis of the issue:

“As a result of the three year drought the City of Turlock has experienced an increase in requests for connection to City water service from properties located within unincorporated county islands, outside of City limits.”

Right now, the City is looking at approximately six to 10 requests, two of which the property owners are seriously considering requesting City water, with a well at the southern end of West Avenue that has gone dry and the residence tied to their neighbor’s property with a hose.

Cooke explained that this blanket agreement would speed up the process of providing water to those specific property owners when in need.

“What this standard agreement would do would allow the City to sanction agreements with the property owner at the staff level to expedite the approval of water service to attach the City’s water system,” said Cooke. “So this applies only to County islands, there’s four or five of those in the City, and it only applies to residential properties and by the terms of the agreement, the property owner can’t expand the use of their property.”

He added that property owners would pay all of the normal City fees and charges, and that if they fail to comply with terms, the City has the right to disconnect that water service.

Councilmember Steven Nascimento asked for clarification that the agreement would only apply to County islands and not contiguous properties of the City, to which Cooke confirmed that it would only be islands, and could not involve the extension of a water main. Properties would have to be “right next to” a City water main to tie into it, according to Cooke.

The Municipal Services Director then referenced an agreement from approximately a year before where a property requested the City to provide water outside City limits on Washington Road to Swanson Farms, but the agreement occurred because it was a “health and safety concern” and was approved by the City Council.

Bigger agreements like that would still need approval from Council.

For a typical home, the cost of buying into the City’s water system and the main for their house would be roughly $6,000 to $8,000 according to Cooke. Following that, the property owner would pay a regular City water bill.

Although these kinds of requests do not require an agreement under the Turlock Municipal Code Section 6-5-115, California Government Code Section 56133 requires a contract or an agreement and written approval from the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).

Stanislaus LAFCO can approve the City’s request to provide new or extended services outside its jurisdictional boundaries to respond to threats to the public health or safety of the residents of the properties in need of water.

Because of the current drought, City staff wanted the approval to be a blanket agreement that could be utilized for future requests that could then be approved at a staff level. By authorizing the agreement Tuesday, the Council approved the document to go on to Stanislaus LAFCO.

The motion passed to approve the agreement with an added condition of authorizing the City Manager to execute the agreement with a 5-0 vote.

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