Olema water bond paid 
off after four decades

01/15/2015

Olema residents have finally paid off a 40-year, $70,000 water bond, the North Marin Water District announced last week. The bond was issued in 1975 when voters decided to switch their water-service provider from the Olema Water Company—a private group—to the water district. The Farmers Home Administration agreed to purchase the bond at a 5 percent interest rate and, until this year, property owners in Olema paid an average annual assessment of $120 on their water bills to satisfy the bond. “Forty years paid off here,” said David Bentley, the water district’s auditor-controller. “That’s something to celebrate.” Still, it may be a minor celebration: the bond assessment charge accounted for only around 5 percent of residents’ total annual bill. “It’s more symbolic than anything else,” said Dennis Rodoni, a longtime Olema resident who also serves on the water district’s board of directors. Prior to the bond’s issuance, the private water system in Olema was “broken,” Mr. Rodoni said. Not only did the facilities suffer from infrastructure problems, the system’s owners had no intention of investing in future improvements. Meanwhile, similarly poor maintenance and management problems were afflicting the private water system in Point Reyes—that is, until N.M.W.D. stepped in to purchase and rehabilitate Point Reyes Station’s system in 1970. Olema residents took note, and asked the district to annex their water system. The resulting bond helped finance the construction of several Olema water facilities, including a storage tank and a pump station, and the extension of a four-inch pipeline that carries water to Olema from a primary storage and treatment system in Point Reyes. “It’s a honeycomb distribution center system,” said Robert Clark, the district’s maintenance and operations superintendent. Improvements have since been made been to upgrade the pump station and replace the storage tank, but the original pipeline funded with the bond is still in service today.