McKinleyville could help supply Trinidad water

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – The McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors may decide tonight, Jan. 6 whether to participate in a feasibility study that would look at constructing a water line from McKinleyville to the Trinidad Rancheria.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be held electronically using Zoom. Attendees can use a computer or call 1 (888) 788-0099. The meeting ID is 836 4924 1188.

Under the proposal, the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District would sell water directly to the Trinidad Rancheria, but the water would pass through McKinleyville’s pipelines, which extend to the Dow’s Prairie area. A new pipeline would need to be built from the northern end of McKinleyville up the casino,. located south of Trinidad.

The study, and project, would not cost the district anything, as it would be reimbursed for any costs in incurs. 

The Trinidad Rancheria is eager to obtain an alternative supply so that it can carry out its  economic development projects.

Currently, the rancheria’s casino, housing, office and medical facilities all receive their water from the City of Trinidad.

However, when the rancheria requested additional water for the five-story, 100-room Hyatt Hotel it plans to build adjacent to its casino, the Trinidad City Council decided send the matter to the Trinidad Planning Commission, which was charged with developing a policy on how to handle new water requests. Some councilmembers have said they don’t think the city has enough water to supply the hotel, particularly in drought years.

The rancheria has said it plans to proceed with the hotel project, which it says will be supplied using other sources. 

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But water is still needed for the tribe’s future economic development projects, which include a proposed RV park, mini-mart, a gas station, a cultural and community center, a visitor center and housing.

Trinidad Rancheria Tribal Chair Garth Sundburg approached the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District in June about connecting to its system. The HBMWD is the wholesale water supplier to McKinleyville, Arcata, Eureka, Blue Lake, Glendale, Fieldbrook, Manila and an unincorporated area outside Eureka.

In December, HBMWD General Manager John Friedenbach wrote a letter to the MCSD asking whether it would be willing the participate in the study.

McKinleyville’s northernmost water line is located in the Woody Road area of Dow’s Prairie.

“MCSD’s Service Area Boundaries end at Dow’s Prairie to the north, so we could not sell water directly to the Rancheria without approval from LAFCo [Local Agency Formation Commission] to revise our Service Area Boundaries,” states a staff report from MCSD Manager Patrick Kaspari to the MCSD board.  “However, HBMWD could likely utilize MCSD’s system for ‘wheeling’ water to the Rancheria. The MCSD system would then basically serve as an extension of the HBMWD distribution system. A waterline would still have to be constructed from the north end of the MCSD system to the Rancheria, but the use of the MCSD system would eliminate the need to construct a line from the HBWMD system in Arcata to the Rancheria. If this alternative is deemed feasible, the retail water contract would be between HBMWD and the Rancheria; however, there would also need to be a contract between HBMWD and MCSD to recoup our costs for the use of our system.”


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