When Josh and I decide to open a brewery in Southern Humboldt it came from a place in our hearts. We wanted to add to the vibrant culture and connected community of Southern Humboldt. Of course we were also looking out for our own pocket books and the idea of exporting our beer out of Humboldt brought an added financial security to not only us, but to Southern Humboldt, as well.
I say this because as we journey through this process of taking our ideas from paper to reality, the challenges have brought conflict into our lives and the lives of others. We have been asked similar questions on a few occasions; Why can’t we be patient? It is a valid question and I would like to take this opportunity to answer it and ask my own questions as well. Read on to see what I have in mind.
I would like to share with you a small picture of what the last 18 months has looked like for my husband and I as we navigate the roads of our small town's politics. Please keep in mind; we are looking for utility service, water and wastewater for a piece of property in an industrial park that is currently already zoned for a brewery and is a customer of the service district it lies in.
RCSD Timeline for The Gyppo Ale Mill
(Warning: This is some boring reading and if it gets too long there is a call to action at the end)
December 13, 2013 :: Our first contact with the Redway Community Service District (RCSD) via Kenneth Dean. (Dean has since retired and been replaced by John Rogers) Mr. Dean request that we put a proposal together and submit it to the RCSD board. It must be received by Jan. 16th to be included in the agenda packet.
January 8, 2014 :: Submit Proposal to RCSD to accept brewery wastewater.
January 15th, 2014 :: Attend our very first RCSD board meeting only to learn that the office manager failed to include our proposal in the agenda packet, even though we submitted it on time.
February 13th, 2014 :: Apply through Humboldt County Planning for a Conditional Use Permit for the restaurant side of our brewery. The brewery portion already zoned correctly.
February 19th, 2014 :: Three hours before RCSD board meeting and one months after we have submitted our proposal, Mr. Dean informs us that he will not support the project because we have not provided enough information. The previous week, numerous phone conversation had taken place to assure that proposal information was sufficient. At board meeting, Mr. Dean introduces us by comparing our small brewery to Lagunitas in Petaluma, CA. Lagunits 600,000 Barrels vs Gyppo 1,000 Barrels. Barrel=31 gallons.
March 26th ,2014 :: RCSD requires that we apply for an Industrial Wastewater Permit. This application must be created and an Industrial Wastewater Ad Hoc Committed is formed made up of Art McClure and Linda Sutton. Additionally, the Ad Hoc board will be responsible for setting Industrial Wastewater limits.
April 14th, 2014 :: Gyppo Ale Mill submits Industrial Wastewater Permit Application 1.0
April 24th, 2014 :: Learn that a letter has been sent to us, which is dated April 16th, yet post marked April 22nd. Our application is incomplete because we used the industry norm of pounds per litter and the Ad Hoc board prefers milligrams per litter. Additionally, they request more detailed information about our on-site collection system and process.
April 25th, 2014 :: Corrections and detail are added to the Industrial Wastewater Permit Application 2.0 is resubmitted.
May 21st, 2014 :: RCSD decides to hire Waterworks Engineers to do a capacity study. Mr. Dean believes that the facility is currently at about 50% capacity on water and 70% capacity on wastewater.
May 28th, 2014 :: Application is again deemed unacceptable because a footer was added, i.e. “Gyppo Ale Mill Industrial Wastewater Permit Application” and a request for schematic drawing of facility and on-site wastewater system.
June 6th, 2014 :: Corrections and detail are added to the Industrial Wastewater Permit Application 3.0 is resubmitted.
June 14th, 2014 :: Mr. Dean tells us, along with a property owner that is trying to annex in his lots, that he has every intention of approving our application as long as we have Humboldt County plan check ready schematic drawings. This cost us $30,000 to complete.
August 20th, 2014 :: Capacity results come in and Waterworks Engineers recommend that “Depending on the demand of significant new connections to the water system, the WTP capacity would need to be increased.”
September 14th, 2014 :: Submit Industrial Wastewater Application 4.0 that has interior brewery schematics as well as brewery wastewater system and process information.
September 17th, 2014 :: Mr. Dean goes point by point through the capacity study to disagree with the Waterworks Engineers findings. He believes that the parameters the study were done under “were very abnormal for the needs to be that high” The systems average water daily demand is 145 gallons per minute. The peak is 342 gallons per minute and the capacity is 450 gallons per minute.
September 22, 2014 :: Josh and I are invited to attend an Industrial Wastewater Ad Hoc board meeting to discuss our application. These meeting are generally closed to the public. At this meeting we are given the Industrial Wastewater limits. No questions are asked of our application.
September 23, 2014 :: Attend our first Garberville Sanitary District board meeting. We begin a conversation with the board and they ask us to submit our information to their general manager, Ralph Emerson.
September 24th, 2014 :: We send the capacity study to Neal Carnem. Carnem is a wastewater engineer out of Eureka, with over 40 years of experience in the industry.
September 25th, 2014 :: Our wastewater consult, John Mercer informs us that there is an error in Industrial Wastewater Limits. A decimal mark has been placed in the wrong spot. We pass this information and the Ad Hoc board decides to stick with the new number. Our limits for an Industrial Wastewater are now 150 mg/L, while a Redway home on average discharges between 190 – 250 mg/L.
September 29th, 2014 :: Carnem gives us his findings from the capacity study that fall in line with what Mr. Dean said at the September 17th meeting. He sees no reason why RCSD cannot add Gyppo Ale Mill to the system.
October 22nd, 2014 :: At this RCSD board meeting we encourage the board to work with Neal Carnem, who has a history of helping out small service district to implement financially responsible solutions to capacity issues. Gyppo Ale Mill offered to pay for these services. They deny this request as well as our application for Industrial Wastewater.
October 28th, 2014 :: The Garberville Service District ask for us to get approval from LAFCO to transport our wastewater from the RCSD area to GSD area.
November 3rd, 2014 :: We submit an application to RCSD for water only for the brewery and regular water and wastewater services for the restaurant.
November 19th, 2014 :: Our application is on the RCSD agenda and is put to a vote. It is not seconded and is tabled.
December 1st, 2014 :: At this RCSD board meeting, the outgoing manager, Mr. Dean, the new manager, John Rogers, and the plant operator all believe that the facility can handle our new request for service. Garberville Sanitary District general manager is present and confirms that the GSD will take our wastewater. Art McClure and Linda Sutton will not vote yes until we have a signed agreement that Garberville Sanitary District will take our brewery wastewater and the RCSD legal council reviews the contract. Additionally the board decides that they want a new RCSD service application, one that covers both residential and commercial applicants.
December 17th, 2014 :: For Garberville Sanitary District, LAFCO rules that GSD does not need their approval.
December 30th, 2015 :: A draft wastewater contract is presented to the Garberville Service District. One member of the public has issue and must be double checked for legality.
January 7th, 2015 :: Special Workshop held and John Rogers includes in agenda packet “… water use pertaining to a 130 seat restaurant could be accommodated within our current capacity…”.
January 21st, 2015 :: RCSD board approves new application with both residential and commercial portions.
January 27th, 2015 :: Just four months of negotiations and Garberville Sanitary District agrees to take Gyppo Ale Mill’s brewery wastewater.
February 2nd, 2015 :: John Rogers emails us the finalized version of the New Service Application
February 5th, 2015 :: Complete application and submit it to RCSD.
February 11th, 2015 :: John Roger via email contacts us that there are “significant concerns” regarding our application.
February 17th, 2015 :: Drop off signed copy of GSD and Gyppo Ale Mill brewery wastewater contract. Roger notes that we have a very damaged relationship with the Industrial Wastewater Ad Hoc board and hints that they would like to save service for others.
February 25th, 2015 :: RCSD board puts Building Moratorium on agenda as well as a Developer Fee that would cost Gyppo between 100K-200K depending on the discretion of the board and/or staff. Legal council becomes a part of the conversation.
March 18th, 2015 :: Staff reports that a Building Moratorium is not necessary, but RCSD board refuses to still approve service application.
March 24th, 2015 :: Gyppo submits a memorandum from wastewater water engineer Neal Carnem, that states, from the RCSD capacity study that, Redway has an excess capacity of 155,000 gallons of water per day. He sees no reason why the RCSD can not provide both wastewater and water services.
March 27th, 2015 :: Our legal Council puts in a California Public Records Act request to learn what RCSD policy & procedures. To date (5/29/2015) the RCSD board has been unable to provide these.
April 15th, 2015 :: The Gyppo Ale Mill’s application is still not on the agenda although it has now been turned in since February 5th, 2015. The RCSD board states that they are yet to see it, although someone on the board has "significant concerns" with it (See Feb. 11, 2015) Our council, Jeffry Slack, specifically ask to be put on the May 20th agenda.
May 5th, 2015 :: The RCSD has a board meeting that we were never made aware of.
May 20th, 2015 :: RCSD board meeting and Gyppo Ale Mill is NOT on the agenda again……
Whew.. That is a list of hoops to jump through and sadly none of them brought us any closer to our goal of getting water and wastewater service. This puts us and anyone who wants to live in Redway in quite the dilemma. It clearly states in the capacity study that there is 155,000 gallons of water of day that is excess. In my minds eye, I feel like there are two options. Sadly, two members of the current board (Stutton & McClure, yep, we're finally pointing fingers!) are stopping any forward progress on completing the only application that has been turned in over a year. In their hearts I am sure that they believe they are doing what is best for the customers of the Redway. But we are customers of Redway. We are within the district. It may be time for these fuddy duddy's to step down from the board and new progressive, forward thinking individuals that can follow the advise of their hired professionals to step in.
Or two, begin cultivating a closer relationship with the highly function Garberville Sanitary District in an effort to combine the two community districts. Time and time again, I have heard from industry professional that it is a strange practice that these two districts are so close together yet do not share staff and equipment. Combing would be a economical saving to all.
So there it is. Look it over and come ask some questions of the Redway Community Service District Board. We do not have infinite time to sit around and wait for approval. Isn't a year and half long enough. The next meeting is Wednesday, May 20th at 7pm at 1150 Evergreen Road next Greenwired in The Meadows Business Park.