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NID Directors authorize opening the security gate on Scotts Flat Spillway

Grass Valley, CA – The Nevada Irrigation District (NID) will immediately open the security gate installed on the Scotts Flat Spillway so the public can gain access across the dam infrastructure.

During a special meeting on Friday, NID’s Board of Directors also directed that new signage be installed to alert the public about no jumping into the lake from the spillway or loitering.

The Board acknowledged the gate would be closed if ever the US Department of Homeland Security issues an alert of terrorist threat, requiring staff to shut the dam facilities. In that event, NID would notify the public of the closure as soon as it happens via press releases, direct emails, website post, etc.

Additional spillway alterations to address regulatory and public health and safety issues will be discussed during regularly scheduled Water & Hydroelectric Operations Committee and Maintenance and Resources Management Committee meetings. Suggestions, which were introduced during Friday’s meeting, will include:

• Fencing along the top of the spillway running parallel with the eastern and western edges, including adding wingwalls to the northern and southern access points of the spillway. Fencing would be consistent with the current “no-climb” fencing and razor wire

• Camera installation at various locations to allow real-time monitoring of the facility

• Security patrol during high-use periods / summer months.

As background, NID installed fencing and a gate across the top of and along the edge of the Scotts Flat Spillway in August to address regulatory concerns and public safety.

The Scotts Flat facility is subject to regulatory control by both the Department of Safety of Dams (DSOD) and the Federal Energy and regulatory Commission. Recently, the Scotts Flat Spillway was included on DSOD’s priority re-evaluation list, giving additional regulatory analysis to the facility’s security and operational constraints.

All measures being proposed are on an interim basis, while a long-term solution is explored to connect the northern and southern areas of Scotts Flat Reservoir. NID anticipates the spillway will be rebuilt under the direction of DSOD in the future. Moving forward, NID will engage with community members in those efforts.

The Board noted the District’s responsibility to protect its dam and hydroelectric facility and meet federal and state regulatory obligations. Directors also acknowledged the importance of working with the community to allow as much access as possible to NID property for recreation.

 

Contact: Susan Lauer

(530) 271-6735 ext. 335

lauers@nidwater.com

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Special Board of Directors meeting scheduled to discuss Scotts Flat Spillway gate

The Nevada Irrigation District (NID) has scheduled a special Board of Directors meeting to discuss concerns and alternatives regarding the Scotts Flat Spillway gate at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 17.

NID staff members met on Wednesday, Nov. 8 and have identified an immediate alternative plan to keep the gate open until a permanent solution is reached with community involvement. The Board will discuss and consider an action on a Scotts Flat gate plan at the special Friday meeting.

Also, on Tuesday, Nov. 14, staff will update the Water & Hydroelectric Operations Committee (WHO) on an alternative plan to the Scotts Flat Spillway gate closure, taking into consideration NID’s regulatory and health and safety concerns.

Continuing forward, NID will work with community members in a long-term, permanent solution.

 

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NID Nov. 8 Board Meeting Highlights

NID Directors authorize donation to the Nevada County Historical Society and discuss Drought Contingency Plan

 

Grass Valley, CA – A donation to the Nevada County Historical Society for a kitchen remodel and the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) drought contingency plan were among topics addressed during the Nov. 8 Board of Directors meeting.

Present were President Nick Wilcox, Vice President William Morebeck, alongside Directors Nancy Weber, John H. Drew and Scott Miller.

Directors approved $5,515 from the 2018 donations budget to support the Nevada County Historical Society’s efforts to remodel the kitchen at the History Center (formerly the Searls Historical Library). The library contains an extensive map collection including federal, state and local maps of the county dating from the 1850s. NID staff and consultants regularly use the facility for historical research. The vote was 3-2.

In other NID Board matters, Directors discussed the District’s Drought Contingency Plan, which needs to be updated every five years. The purpose of the Plan is to provide guidance to staff and customers to help minimize water supply shortage impacts during droughts. The plan identifies action levels, appropriate agency responses, water demand reduction goals, as well as provides recommended demand management measures to assist customers in water conservation.

The General Manager reported district water storage is 186,053 acre-feet, 66 percent of capacity. Precipitation to-date at Bowman Lake is 2.91 inches, or 48 percent of average for the water year.

The next regular meeting of the NID Board of Directors will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at the NID Business Center located at 1036 West Main Street, Grass Valley. NID Board meetings are open to the public.
Contact: Susan Lauer  (530) 273-6185

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NID pursues integrated vegetation management options

Continuing its efforts to find better ways to reduce the use of herbicides, Nevada Irrigation District (NID) stays committed to fine-tuning its vegetation management.

The District has learned it has qualified for the second round of a Pest Management Research Grant Program through the state Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). More than $1 million in grants will be awarded in March 2018.

“This is a competitive grant. If we are fortunate to get it, we would develop a research trial study that would look at many different types of organic herbicides and alternative methods for vegetation reduction along our canals and reservoirs,” said NID General Manager Rem Scherzinger. “This research might serve to help other irrigation districts throughout the State with their vegetation management issues.”

NID has an integrated management strategy in place to control problematic vegetation along the berms of its 474 miles of canals. This vegetation restricts flows and reduces water quality in the waterways, impacting water deliveries and adding costs. Foremost, impeded water flow can become a public health issue with increased algae blooms and a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Currently the District uses diverse methods to control vegetation to ensure maximum water flow and system efficiency. These practices include: grazing goats, weed tarping, hand cleaning by crews, mechanical cleaning by tractors and using herbicides.

The District has committed resources and staff time to find affordable alternatives to using herbicides. To assist with those efforts, a working group of 16 individuals comprised of community members and local organizations met in August to propose options and alternatives utilizing their expertise in this field. The group includes a representative for each of NID’s five directors plus individuals from local groups, such as area agricultural commissions, farm bureaus and resource conservation districts.

Recommendations from that meeting have been incorporated into the proposal that District staff and consultants developed for a trial research program to test viable alternatives. Technical support has been provided by local integrated pest management experts, including Sierra Consulting & IPM, organic advisors at Heaven and Earth Farm and Felix Gillet Institute, the University of California Cooperative Extension and Plumas Corporation.

This trial research will be implemented by the District whether or not the DPR grant money is awarded, Scherzinger said.

 

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NID Oct. 25 Board Meeting Highlights

Contact: Susan Lauer  lauers@nidwater.com

(530) 271-6735 ext. 335

 

NID Directors ratify employee union agreement, and authorize contracts for Loma Rica sediment removal and the rebuilding of the Orchard Springs Campground store

 

Grass Valley, CA – Acceptance of a new three-year labor agreement for NID employees, authorizing work to remove sediment in the Loma Rica Reservoir and construction of a new Orchard Springs Campground store were top agenda items the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) Board of Directors addressed during its Oct. 25 meeting.

Directors announced out of a closed session that the District has reached a three-year agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFCSME) Local 146 that will continue to offer exceptional benefit to both District customers and to District employees. Directors agreed to ratify the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in a 5-0 vote in closed session.

The new agreement affects about 170 (80 Union-represented positions) of NID’s 205 employees. Benefits for District employees include: short-term disability, life insurance, health benefits (including medical, dental and vision) and air ambulance insurance, among others.

This agreement saves the District approximately $750,000 over the life of the MOU, while still adding a cost of living adjustment (COLA) between 1.5 percent and 3.5 percent and a market rate adjustment of 2 percent to staff wages.  COLA and rate adjustments will take place in January, 2018.

Negotiations have been ongoing since March 2017 and the agreement will replace a previous AFCSME MOU, dated June 2014 – June 2017. All told, the agreement is fiscally responsible for District customers, economically beneficial to NID staff and is anticipated to keep well within 2018 budget expense projections.

In other NID Board matters, Directors approved a $200,000 contract with Lorang Brothers Construction of Colfax to remove 15,000 cubic yards of material from the Loma Rica Reservoir, located about one-quarter mile east of Nevada County Air Park. The reservoir stores raw water delivered through the Cascade Canal and the Banner Cascade Pipeline. When first constructed in the early 1960’s, it had a capacity of 96.9 acre-feet (31.6 million gallons). Since then, silt and vegetation growth have significantly decreased reservoir capacity.

The reservoir supplies the Loma Rica Water Treatment Plant and the Chicago Park Canal, an NID supply route for raw-water customers, although it is not directly connected with any local creeks nor does it discharge to any natural water bodies or streams. It also is used by the Nevada County Air Attack Base.

Directors also approved a $449,295 contract to rebuild the Orchard Springs Campground Store, which was removed last year.

The initial bid to rebuild was “significantly above the budget,” noted a staff report. NID has worked with Contractor Bill Litchfield Construction of Grass Valley to scale back plans, including a redesign so the store’s roof will no longer extend over a sitting and playground area. In general, public works construction project costs have increased by an estimated 4 percent this year. Directors unanimously approved the contract but noted the importance of having an overhang or canopy for store visitors. Staff will look into options to install such an amenity. The campground is located at Rollins Lake off Highway 174 about 4 miles from Colfax and offers 91 campsites for RVs, trailers and tents.

 

The General Manager reported total acre-feet of storage at 1841,181 acre-feet (69 percent of maximum capacity or 120 percent of average for the water year). For the month, 1.65 inches of rain (42 percent of average) has been measured at Bowman Powerhouse.

The next regular meeting of the NID Board of Directors will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the NID Business Center located at 1036 West Main Street, Grass Valley. NID Board meetings are open to the public.

 

NID will form committee to explore options for Scotts Flat Dam Spillway

Contact: Susan Lauer

(530) 271-6735 ext. 335

NID will form committee to explore options for Scotts Flat Dam Spillway

Grass Valley, CA – A number of options to reduce illegal activities while continuing to allow access across Scotts Flat Dam spillway were proposed during last night’s special meeting of the Nevada Irrigation District’s Water and Hydroelectric Operations Committee.

About 80 people attended the public workshop to share their thoughts and ideas about how to continue public access on NID’s facility. The district installed fencing and a gate across the top of and along the edge of the spillway in August after being prompted by increased regulatory, safety and health concerns, including unsafe jumping into the lake, illegal camping and campfires, excessive trash and graffiti.

NID staff will conduct an internal review of the numerous ideas presented and an ad hoc committee will be formed to further discuss the issue and explore alternatives. An ad hoc committee may be comprised of representatives from local organizations including, Cascade Shores Homeowners Association, Bear Yuba Land Trust, Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, Forest Trails Alliance, Single Track Action Riders, Sierra Express Bike Racing Team, Bicyclists of Nevada County, and other community leaders.

 

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NID keeps water flowing for local firefighting efforts

October 17, 2017

Contact: Susan Lauer

(530) 271-6735 ext. 335

NID keeps water flowing for local firefighting efforts

Grass Valley, CA – When two wildfires began to spread in the wee hours of Monday, Oct. 9, local fire fighters scrambled to evacuate neighborhoods and battle rapidly spreading flames in darkness, both in Rough and Ready and off McCourtney Road by the Nevada County Fairgrounds. In the morning, crews continued to beat back the fires, which had consumed more than 500 acres in a matter of hours.

In what quickly was shaping up to be a community disaster, Nevada Irrigation District (NID) came out in force to ensure water supplies were available for firefighting efforts. NID crews worked in canals, cleaning out debris to keep water running to be available where needed. The district’s water treatment section increased water storage in anticipation of increased demand.

Extra crews were already in the field on Sunday while the fires were flaring, responding to damage caused by strong winds with gusts reported at 50 miles per hour. Workers were clearing debris clogging canals and limiting services downstream to ensure the district’s 400 miles of canals were clear and water was flowing free.

The first call of a vegetation fire on Lone Lobo Trail off Bitney Springs Road in Penn Valley came in at 11:37 pm on Sunday, Oct. 8. By 3 am the fire had taken off with 200 acres burned, and evacuations were in full effect. Firefighters were battling the flames from different directions and providing structure protection for homes.

About 20 minutes after the Lobo Fire breakout, another blaze — a structure fire with rapid spread to the wildland — was reported on Orion Way off McCourtney Road. Immediate residential evacuations started, and by 2 am crews were providing structure protection as the fire continued to spread. By 7:30 am an estimated 150 acres had been consumed.

From the onset, NID coordinated with CalFire and other agencies to ensure district water was flowing and available for firefighting efforts.

As part of that, NID increased water flows to its system to get water through the canals during fire conditions. Wildfires typically create fallout debris of vegetation, heavy branches, rocks and earth that can fall into and clog canals quickly. For example, treatment plant personnel at the Lake Wildwood facility filled tanks and water distribution operators increased flows to the Deer Creek System to get to Lake Wildwood.

Helicopters scooped water from ponds and Lake Wildwood and had pumps in NID canals. And fire agencies also used the canals as fire breaks. For example, Tunnel Ditch, a canal near Rough and Ready, served as a fire break for the Lobo Fire.

In addition, as the Grass Valley Air Attack Base at the Nevada County Airpark began sending air tankers to make drops on the fires, NID reconfigured its system and turned on a crucial pump station to boost water pressure so the base would have ample and timely supplies to mix its fire retardant properly.

“We are very proud of all of the folks here at NID who were ready and committed to supporting our firefighters by making sure they had all the resources they needed, to provide for the defense of our community,” said Rem Scherzinger, NID general manager.

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NID Oct. 11 Board Meeting Highlights

Oct. 11, 2017

Contact: Susan Lauer

(530) 271-6735 ext. 335

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NID Oct. 11 Board Meeting

Grass Valley, CA – A 6 percent rate increase, department efforts to save $7.26 million this year and approval of the 2018 budget were among topics discussed during the Oct. 11 Nevada Irrigation District Board of Directors meeting.

Present were President Nick Wilcox, Vice President William Morebeck, alongside directors Nancy Weber, John H. Drew, and Scott Miller.

The rate increase was part of a resolution originally approved in 2014 based on a water rate and fee study. That study recommended annual 6-percent increases for fiscal years 2014 through 2018 to close the district’s operational fiscal gap. Wednesday’s review noted a 6 percent rate increase is the equivalent of $4 increase a month per average user.

The Board also approved a balanced budget for the 2018 fiscal year. The focus on efficiency and sustainability is reflected in continued efforts to develop recreation and hydroelectric business lines, whose stability will continue to improve in the coming years. Highlights included water revenues slightly higher from 2016 to 2017 forecasted levels resulting from rate increases and demand. The proposed 2018 budget estimates a negative $8 million net income and a projection of $5.5 million that will liquidate in 2018.

In other financial matters, efforts to become more efficient have literally paid off with more than $7.2 million in cost savings and additional revenues for the fiscal year. The 2017 Financial Efficiency Report noted specific examples, including in purchasing, operations, maintenance and through grants. Read the staff report here.

In other agenda actions, the board unanimously approved the purchase of a Vac-Con Hydro Excavator for $413,793. The hydro-excavator will save money through long-term efficiency. For example, during a construction project it is necessary to make a pot hole in front of an excavation to locate other utilities that might be in conflict with pipeline installation. A typical pot hole using a backhoe takes about 30 minutes and requires a minimum hole size of 3-by-3 feet. Using a rented hydro-excavator this summer, an NID construction crew was able to locate utilities in about 5 minutes with a hole size of 1-by-1 foot. Not only is the time requirement drastically reduced but less asphalt is needed for the repair, and it creates a safe work environment for staff.

The General Manager reported total acre-feet of storage at 191,000 acre-feet. For the month, 1.65 inches of rain has been measured at Bowman Powerhouse.

The next regular meeting of the NID Board of Directors will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at the NID Business Center located at 1036 West Main Street, Grass Valley. NID Board meetings are open to the public.

Public Workshop Scheduled to Explore Access Options for Scotts Flat Dam Spillway

Oct. 10, 2017

Contact: Susan Lauer   (530) 271-6735 ext. 335

 

Residents will have the opportunity to help brainstorm access options around the Scotts Flat Dam spillway during a special meeting of the Nevada Irrigation District’s Water and Hydroelectric Operations Committee on Oct. 18.

The meeting was scheduled after NID action taken at the Scotts Flat Dam spillway in August to safeguard dam infrastructure and as public health and safety protection measures. The district installed fencing and a gate across the top of and along the edge of the spillway after increased concerns, including illegal camping and campfires, unsafe jumping into the lake, excessive trash, graffiti and dumped debris.

Although signage prohibiting public access has been posted for years, residents and recreationists have used the spillway path to reach either side of the reservoir and nearby trails.

The spillway itself is used to provide controlled release of water flows from the 175-foot earthen Scotts Flat Dam, originally built in 1948 to impound Deer Creek and create the reservoir. The top of the spillway provides NID operational access to the district’s hydroelectric facility at the base of the dam. The plant has produced an average of 3,000,000 kilowatthours a year during the past 3 years. That’s enough electricity to power about 277.5 households a year.

NID is subject to dam safety enforcement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and California Department of the Safety of Dams (DSOD). The California Water Code details NID’s responsibility: “… the law requires that a dam shall at all times be designed, constructed, operated and maintained so that it shall not or would not constitute a danger to life or property.”

After record rains earlier this year in Northern California damaged Oroville Dam spillway, for instance, there has been heightened scrutiny on aging dams and spillways throughout the state. In September, Scotts Flat was included on a priority re-evaluation list for spillways by DSOD. The spillway had an “extremely high” rating based on the downstream hazard based on the number of people who live downstream of the dam, not the actual condition of spillway.

After the gate and fence installation, residents have expressed displeasure about lost access. The Oct. 18 workshop will provide a venue to have open discussion about alternatives that might provide public access while addressing NID’s concerns about providing health and safety protections, as well as district liability.

The Water and Hydroelectric Operations Committee meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at NID’s Main Business Center, 1036 W. Main Street, Grass Valley, CA 95945, in the Board Room. The meeting will be structured in a workshop format to maximize the opportunity for input.

 

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NID Scotts Flat Reservoir Fencing along the Dam, Temporary Opening

Contact:
Greg Jones
(530) 271-6826

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

In response to public request, NID will temporarily open the gate on Scotts Flat Dam to allow for access leading up to and during the Barbara Schmidt Millar Triathlon. The gate will be open during the day through Sunday, September 17.

In August, NID installed exclusion fencing and gate across the top of and along the edge of the Scotts Flat spillway. NID has experienced increased public safety concerns in and around the spillway, including unsafe jumping into the lake from the dam, illegal camping and campfires in and around the spillway, and excessive trash and debris.

NID owns and operates the Scotts Flat Dam, including the powerhouse, and is subject to dam safety enforcement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the California Department of the Safety of Dams (DSOD). NID is subject to regulations applicable to protecting the public so that it shall not constitute a danger to life or property.

The protection and safety of the public and resources are essential to the District and the community at large. The District will hold a special meeting of the Water and Hydroelectric Operations Committee on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. at NID’s Main Business Center in order to receive additional input from the community regarding gate and fencing.

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