In 2020, the Zone 7 Board of Directors hosted a series of workshops to develop a new Five-Year Strategic Plan for the organization. During that process, we refined our mission, vision and values. The Strategic Plan is structured in a supporting fashion: the Initiatives support the Goals, which support the Mission and achievement of the Vision. The overarching Goals guide our work at every level. The major Strategic Plan Initiatives that are planned to be undertaken over the five-year period support the meeting of those Goals.
We deliver safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable water and flood protection services.
We provide excellent water and flood protection services to enhance the quality of life, economic vitality and environmental health of the communities we serve.
Transparency – We operate in an open and transparent fashion.
Customer Service – We are prompt, respectful and courteous in all of our interactions.
Collaboration – We embrace collaboration to enhance our services.
Environmental Sensitivity – We deliver our services in an environmentally sensitive manner.
Fiscal Responsibility – We operate in a productive, cost effective and efficient manner.
Innovation – We encourage innovation, creativity and ingenuity.
Integrity – We maintain the highest ethical standards and value open and honest communications.
Leadership – We maintain a diverse team of highly skilled professionals devoted to honest and accountable stewardship of resources.
Proactivity – We proactively address issues and embrace continuous improvement.
Safety – We are committed to public and employee safety.
GOAL A | Reliable Water Supply and Infrastructure
Provide customers with a reliable water supply and infrastructure.
Initiative #1 – Establish a diversified water supply plan
Initiative Description – The Zone 7 Water Agency portfolio is highly dependent on water supplies transported through the Delta, primarily from the State Water Project. The Delta’s ability to convey water has become increasingly unreliable due to aging levees, earthquake risk, climate change, and increasingly stringent regulations resulting from declining ecosystem conditions. As the Agency considers a number of new water supply and storage projects, the Agency will endeavor to establish a diversified water supply and storage portfolio that focuses on local storage and supplies.
Initiative #2 – Evaluate and develop appropriate new water supply and reliability opportunities
Initiative Description – A key Zone 7 goal is to provide customers with reliable water supply and delivery. Zone 7 studies have shown that to ensure current and future water supplies are reliable, additional water supply and reliability measures are required. This initiative outlines the programs currently being reviewed. There may be additional opportunities.
Initiative #3 – Continue to effectively implement infrastructure projects in the Water System Capital Improvement Program (CIP)
Initiative Description – Water system infrastructure is critical to providing a safe and reliable supply of water. Existing infrastructure must be maintained, upgraded, and\or replaced to ensure reliable operations. Modifications to infrastructure related to technological advances and improvements must be considered and incorporated if necessary, to improve system reliability and operations\maintenance efficiency. New infrastructure must be developed to serve future growth in the Valley and to comply with future anticipated water quality regulations. This initiative documents how Zone 7 will continue to update and implement its Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and the Asset Management Program (AMP). The CIP encompasses the near-term (10-year) implementation and funding plan for projects required to meet the long-term mission and goals. The AMP includes the asset inventory and long-term (40-year) renewal and replacement schedule for the water system assets, determines the total funding need 13 over the planning horizon, and documents Zone 7’s funding plan.
GOAL B | Safe Water
Provide customers with safe water.
Initiative #4 – Implement Ozone
Initiative Description – The upgrade of Zone 7 Water Agency’s surface water treatment plants includes replacing aging treatment facilities and the addition of raw water ozonation. The addition of ozonation will improve overall treated water quality, reduce tastes & odor events, and improve production reliability by improving downstream treatment plant processes. Ozone is highly effective in inactivating pathogens such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium thereby reducing chlorine use and disinfection byproduct formation. Ozonation is also the most effective water treatment process in destroying contaminants of emerging concern such as algal toxins, endocrine disruptors, and pharmaceuticals. This initiative documents that both Zone 7 Water Agency’s treatment plants are being upgraded and modernized to continue to meet our commitment to providing safe and reliable water supply.
Initiative #5 – Meet or surpass all drinking water health and safety requirements
Initiative Description – The Zone 7 Water Agency is committed to providing water that is safe to drink. As a water wholesaler for the Valley, Zone 7 Water Agency collaborates with its Retailers, interacts\communicates with its customers, implements internal water quality goals that surpass State and federal primary standards by at least a margin of 20%, and monitors water quality at production facilities and in the transmission system with online monitoring and grab sampling for various water quality parameters. This ensures the water Zone 7 Water Agency delivers is safe to drink. This initiative describes how Zone 7 Water Agency will continue to provide high quality water.
Initiative #6 – Assess treatment requirements and strategy for PFAS and Cr6
Initiative Description – Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are unregulated contaminants of emerging concern to drinking water due to their tendency to accumulate in groundwater and their potential adverse health effects. Zone has implemented procedures to deliver water supply below response levels by limiting use of any affected wells, blending with other sources of water, and by reverse osmosis treatment. A study is being conducted to assess treatment options. This study is also 15 evaluating treatment options for hexavalent chromium (Cr6) to meet an anticipated future regulation.
GOAL C | Groundwater Management
Manage and protect the groundwater basin as the state designated Groundwater Sustainability Agency.
Initiative #7 – Manage the GSA and implement the groundwater management plan
Initiative Description – Zone 7 Water Agency has managed the Livermore Valley Groundwater Basin for more than 50 years. Sustainable groundwater management has been accomplished by replenishing pumped groundwater with surface water from the South Bay Aqueduct. Because of its long history with replenishing the Basin, Zone 7 Water Agency was designated as the exclusive Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) for the basin in accordance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) adopted by the State Legislature in 2014. This initiative consists of administering the groundwater program as the GSA and implementing the Basin’s Alternative Groundwater Sustainability Plan (Alternative GSP).
Initiative #8 – Study and refine knowledge of the groundwater basins
Initiative Description – The Zone 7 Water Agency currently manages the groundwater basin according to the “historic low” that was most recently updated in October 2015. As Zone 7 Water Agency deals with salt and nutrient management, PFAS contamination and implementation of the SGMA, additional study of the groundwater basin would be beneficial. This initiative will help to optimize and protect groundwater resources.
GOAL D | Effective Flood Protection
Provide an effective system of flood protection.
Initiative #9 – Continue to maintain the Flood Protection System
Initiative Description – The Zone 7 Water Agency manages approximately 40 miles of flood channels in the Tri-Valley area. Maintaining the system and reducing flood risk involved preventative and reactive maintenance as well as storm damage repairs. This initiative describes the Zone 7 Water Agency’s commitment to maintaining these channels for flood protection and watershed stewardship.
Initiative #10 – Update the flood protection strategy
Initiative Description – The current Stream Management Master Plan (SMMP, 2006) no longer reflects the current regulatory or financial environment and requires an update. This initiative encompasses that update, but also recognizes that a thorough review of the overall strategy is required.
GOAL E | Effective Operations
Provide the Agency with effective leadership, administration and governance.
Initiative #11 – Review professional development approach to maintain workforce capability for now and into the future
Initiative Description – Zone 7 Water Agency depends on a professional and capable workforce. Effective recruitment and compensation are required to hire the workforce, and professional development is key to retaining this workforce. This initiative describes how Zone 7 Water Agency will modernize and refine its human resources programs.
Initiative #12 – Review and develop strategies for water treatment operator recruitment and retention
Initiative Description – In recent years, the water utility industry has been experiencing that “Silver Tsunami,” the term used in the water industry to refer to the ongoing exodus of Baby Boomers who are now hitting retirement age – taking with them significant water system experience and expertise. The water utility industry has had challenges in finding the workforce necessary to maintain water treatment operations. Zone 7 Water Agency is experiencing the same issues. In the last 12 months, 8 out of 22 Water Plant Operator positions turned over. This initiative describes how Zone 7 will review the situation and make recommendations for improvement.
Initiative #13 – Review and update Board policies
Initiative Description – This initiative describes a review of existing Zone 7 Water Agency Board policies. Many policies are out-of-date and are no longer needed. There is not a common understanding of the definition of a Board policy versus a resolution or other action.
Initiative #14 – Evaluate current program to increase ratio of preventative to reactive maintenance
Initiative Description – Provide maintenance on existing facilities that meets industry standards and preserves the Agency’s infrastructure. The current Zone 7 Water Agency ratio of preventative maintenance percentage is approximately 20%. This initiative strives to improve that ratio to 70% on a pathway to 85%. Preventative maintenance keeps assets and infrastructure in good working order and prevents unscheduled downtime and limits major repairs. Leaders in industry have an 85% preventive maintenance percentage with reactive maintenance and corrective maintenance making up the difference at 10% reactive and 5% corrective. As the preventative maintenance percentage increases; overall maintenance cost lowers and downtime on equipment diminishes. This means that facilities become more reliable in the long term. Increasing the preventive maintenance percentage is a positive return on investment in the overall operation of the different facilities.
Initiative #15 – Optimize the procurement process
Initiative Description – Procurement is a function of business management that provides the resources needed for Zone 7 Water Agency to carry out its mission. Procurement is currently decentralized and does not take place in a standard manner. This initiative will provide a centralized procurement function that standardizes workflow, provides simplified and easier-to-understand processes, results in greater efficiencies and frees up project managers to focus on core activities in water and flood operations.
Initiative #16 – Develop and implement an energy strategy
Initiative Description – This initiative will plan and implement cost-effective energy projects and programs to optimize Zone 7’s energy use portfolio, energy resiliency, and carbon footprint.
Initiative #17 – Refresh emergency preparedness program
Initiative Description – This initiative describes the activities Zone 7 Water Agency will perform to update and keep current its emergency preparedness programs. Emergency preparedness and response planning are critical to maintain operations during emergencies. Emergencies range from small pipeline breaks to pandemics and large-scale natural disasters. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated that Emergency Response Plans be updated by September 2020, and a firm and staff have been engaged. Staff will then expand on the Emergency Response Plan to update 22 and modernize key elements of the Emergency Preparedness Program. The Hazard Mitigation Plan, the Hazardous Materials Business Plan, the Risk Management Plan, the East Bay Regional Communication Systems Authority (EBRCSA), and industry standard best practices for emergencies will be utilized to ensure that the Emergency Preparedness Program is robust.
Initiative #18 – Develop and implement a climate change strategy
Initiative Description – Climate change will impact water and flood operations. Studies indicate that California will confront more extreme droughts and floods as well as rising temperatures. The State Water Project has historically depended on snowpack to store water, but climate change will likely reduce snowpack and create more and earlier runoff. Zone 7 Water Agency receives on average 80% of its raw water supply from the San Francisco Bay Delta. The delta system is vulnerable to sea level rise and there are federal and State efforts to help this system be less vulnerable which will have a direct impact on Zone 7 Water Agency and how this water is received. As runoff increases and starts earlier in the year, flood control maintenance efforts should be efficient and timely in the dry season to make sure that the flood water will leave the valley quickly and with as little damage as possible. This initiative documents that Zone 7 Water Agency must plan for and manage these challenges.
GOAL F | Stakeholder Engagement
Engage our stakeholders to foster understanding of their needs, the Agency, and its functions.
Initiative #19 – Optimize Agency communications program
Initiative Description – This initiative describes Zone 7’s commitment to operating in an open and transparent manner. Maintaining effective communication strategies for the Agency is key to serving the community with openness and transparency and maintaining the commitment to customer service and integrity.
Initiative #20 – Redesign Agency website
Initiative Description – The Zone 7 website requires updating. Cyber threats are posing an increased risk to vulnerable public agencies. Enhanced security measures are vital to maintain public documents and agency information as well as mitigate financial risk from cyber threats. This initiative describes the major anticipated activities.
Initiative #21 – Conduct water supply reliability outreach program
Initiative Description – Zone 7 Water Agency continues to proactively seek ways to enhance storage flexibility, diversify its water supply portfolio, incorporate climate change, and improve long-term water supply reliability for the Livermore-Amador Valley in support of its mission. This initiative describes a community outreach program to engage the Tri-Valley residents and businesses on the region’s water supply challenges on potential solutions.
GOAL G | Fiscal Responsibility
Operate the Agency in a fiscally responsible manner.
Initiative #22 – Develop a long-range finance strategy
Initiative Description – This initiative consists of forward-looking analysis to plan for the Agency’s future. Key issues to address in the future include replacement and rehabilitation costs for aging infrastructure, the need to invest in expensive new water supply and reliability projects, the need to comply with new water quality regulations, and the reduction of development-related revenues as the Agency’s service area reaches buildout.
Initiative #23 – Track State and federal funding opportunities
Initiative Description – Key financial issues to address in the future include replacement and rehabilitation costs for aging infrastructure, the need to invest in expensive new water supply and reliability projects, and the reduction of development related revenues as Zone 7 Water Agency’s service area reaches buildout. State and federal funding programs can assist in these areas.
Initiative #24 – Continue to effectively manage financial resources
Initiative Description – This initiative consists of managing financial resources in a prudent manner that maintains Zone 7 Water Agency systems but provides reasonable rates to the community and demonstrates good stewardship of public funds.