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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Special District

South Tahoe Public Utility DistrictCandidate for Director2 Year Short Term

Photo of Shane Romsos

Shane Romsos

Environmental Research Scientist
5,928 votes (38.96%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Provide Exceptional Service: Reliable water and sewer services are foundational to our local economy. I will support District efforts to deliver affordable, reliable, and high-quality water and wastewater services. This includes supporting District e
  • Reduce Vulnerabilities to Fire: Recent mega-fires across California provide a stark reminder that the effects of climate change are occurring and can devastate communities. I support the District's engagement with Basin partners to reduce wildfire ri
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and: California legislation has established a timeline to reduce carbon emissions across several economic sectors. Reduced energy use will reduce the District's carbon footprint and save ratepayers money. I will

Experience

Experience

Profession:Environmental Research Scientist
Senior Research Scientist, Spatial Informatics Group, LLC (2014–current)

Education

Humboldt State University Master's of Science Degree, Natural Resources Management (1998)
Humboldt State University Bachelor's of Science Degree, Wildlife Ecology and Management (1992)

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Tahoe Chamber

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

STPUDs Role as an Environmental Leader

Summary

I believe STPUD can play a significant and positive role as an environmtal leader in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The scale of STPUD’s water and sewer system operation presents many opportunities to shine as an environmental leader. The District could research ways to reduce electricity consumption (and their carbon footprint) through retrofitting facilities with more energy efficient technologies. At STPUD’s Diamond Valley Ranch (DVR) property, there is an opportunity for the District to partner with Liberty Utilities through a power purchase agreement to establish a renewable energy farm (e.g., solar, hydro, and/or wind). If designed to scale, such a facility could fully offset the District’s carbon emissions – doing its part to mitigate climate change. Additionally, I believe there is a great opportunity to reuse treated effluent water to establish wetland habitat on DVR lands (similar to the Arcata Marsh). If established, this could be a wildlife refuge where people could visit to bird watch, hike, or otherwise appreciate the outdoors. Such a project would also provide STPUD with more capacity to manage its treated water – potentially opening up markets for its treated water through sales to ranchers and/or through the creation of a wetland habitat mitigation bank. Another opportunity I think the District could explore is the establishment of a biomass facility at the DVR property, where biomass from fuel reduction treatments in Tahoe (and elsewhere) could be processed into marketable compost, biochar, and other wood products. There is also an opportunity for the District to highlight its commitment to environmental quality by maintaining the integrity of its sewer and water systems – leaky sewer systems can have a negative effect on Tahoe’s water quality. STPUD’s water conservation program deserves due credit for reducing energy consumption (associated with water delivery) and leaving more water available for Tahoe’s riparian habitats and ground water recharge.

 

If elected, I will pursue and support smart projects at STPUD which make financial sense, increase system reliability and resilience to natural calamity, such as wildfire. I will support STPUD efforts to leverage State and Federal grant funding, all in the effort to improve the sustainability of the District’s operations. 

STPUD Rates for Water and Sewer Services and COVID-19 Relief

Summary

Keep rates affordable and continue investing in needed system upgrades.

The District’s water and sewer rates are well below the rates (-30%) charged by other Regional water and sewer providers. If elected, I will work to keep it that way through my support of the District’s asset management program which helps to identify priority projects and the timeframe they should be implemented. This program helps to avoid emergency repairs which are more costly than planned projects to implement.STPUD's rates are the lowest in the Tahoe Region and I will pledge as a Board member to keep rates fair and affordable. Revenue generated through rates is important because these are the funds that are primarily used to maintain the upkeep of the water and sewer systems. Prudent investments are needed now and into the future to avoid more costly emergency repairs. If rate increases are warranted, my preference is to pursue slow, steady increases that are generally in alignment with inflation, instead of sharp and shocking increases.  My approach to evaluating rates would be to understand non-discretionary spending associated with operations, priority system upgrade costs, water consumption and sewer use rates, local economic condition indicators, and anticipated trends in the consumer price index. This information together with rate payer’s input, and consultation with STPUD staff and their consultants would inform my decisions on setting water and sewer rates. Prior to any rate increases, I would insist that the District is doing all it can to find grant funding and to operate as cost-effectively as reasonable without compromising the integrity and reliability of their water and sewer systems, and the excellent service the District provides to our community.    

I believe there is a real need for COVID-19 relief for some District customers that have experienced reduced income. A program has recently been adopted to reduce the COVID-19 associated burden for those customers by reducing the cost of sewer services. To deal with revenue shortfalls, I'll encourage staff to pursue alternative funding sources (e.g., grants), leverage partnerships with local, regional, State and Federal agencies to share the cost of projects, work with staff to prioritize system maintenance and upgrades consistent with available funding and support the review of District spending to find savings without compromise to service. 

Role in Reducing Fire Risk in our Community and Improving System Resiliency to Natural Hazards

Summary

Implement projects the provide fire water flow capacity, improve system resiliency, and help to protect our community.

With the recent mega-fires across California and the west, I believe many customers are concerned that they will lose their homes and community to a catastrophic fire event. I'd address this through maintaining the District's program to upgrade the water system to be capable of delivering "fire flows" to under-served neighborhoods that are exposed to high fire threat. Similarly, I will support partnerships, programs and projects that are designed to reduce forest fuels in and around the District's above-ground facilities (e.g., water tanks, pumps, lift stations, and treatment facilities) and the communities these facilities serve. I will also support projects that will "harden" district facilities to reduce their vulnerability to natural disaster (such as fire) and thus maintain the reliability of service (especially needed during fire events).

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