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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.

NID to Update the Board of Directors Regarding California Water Commission Application at 9/13 Board Meeting

August 30, 2017

 

Contact:
Greg Jones
(530) 271-6826

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

 NID to Update the Board of Directors Regarding California Water Commission Application at 9/13 Board Meeting

The Nevada Irrigation District will give an update to the Board regarding the California Water Commission’s 2017 Water Storage Investment Program at the September 13th Board Meeting.  On August 9, 2017, the Board passed Resolution # 2017-24 authorizing the filing of the application for potential funding for the Centennial Reservoir.  This update will be an informational presentation only.

NID Board of Directors meetings start at 9:00am, are open to the public, and are held at 1036 West Main Street, Grass Valley, CA 95945.  More information can be found at www.nidwater.com.

NID Takes Action at Scott’s Flat Reservoir for Public Safety

Contact:
Greg Jones
(530) 271-6826

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

NID Takes Action at Scott’s Flat Reservoir for Public Safety

The Nevada Irrigation District is installing exclusion fencing across the top of and along the edge of the Scott’s Flat spillway. In recent months, NID has experienced increased public safety concerns in and around the spillway, including illegal camping sites in the spillway, unsafe campfire remains throughout the area, excessive trash and debris remnants from use, and other access and operational concerns surrounding dam safety. In addition, NID has experienced increased vandalism to timber operator equipment and illegal vehicle travel from Pasquale Road to the reservoir.

NID has had open access across Scott’s Flat spillway for years, and regrets that the actions of the few violators impede the enjoyment of many. In addition to the fencing of the spillway and closure of illegal roads off Pasquale, NID will continue to monitor security cameras to ensure the safety of the dam, spillway, powerhouse and surrounding area. The protection and safety of the public and our resources are essential to the District and the community at large.

NID August 9 Board Meeting Highlights

Contact:

Greg Jones
530-273-6185

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NID August 9 Board Meeting

Grass Valley, CA – August 10, 2017 – On August 9, The Nevada Irrigation District held a special Board of Directors meeting to allow Board members to attend the opening ceremonies of the Nevada County Fair.  Present were President Nick Wilcox, Vice President William Morebeck, alongside directors Nancy Weber, John H. Drew, and Scott Miller.
The General Manager reported total acre feet of storage at 232,669.  Water conservation among District customers during the heat of July was 19% over 2013 levels.  NID appreciates all of our customers for conserving critical water during this record-breaking heat.
NID’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve Resolution #2017-24, a preliminary funding application to the California Water Commission for the Centennial Reservoir proposed project.  The application, at the request of the CWC, is intended to gauge interest in potential Proposition 1 funding requests from California stakeholders.  The resolution and application is not a guarantee or offer of funding, but rather an administrative requirement from the State.  Those in attendance voiced concern regarding the potential to connect Proposition 1 funds with out-of-district water sales.  In light of public comments, the Board unanimously provided direction to the General Manager to not transfer water outside the District as part of a Proposition 1 grant.
In other agenda actions, the Board unanimously approved an agreement allowing participation by California American Water in the West Placer Groundwater Sustainability Agency.  NID joined the West Placer Groundwater Sustainability Agency in 2017 to collaborate and create the Western Placer County Groundwater Management Plan (GMP).  A GMP is a requirement of AB 3030 and SB 1938 in order to maintain a safe, sustainable, and high quality groundwater resource to meet backup, emergency, and peak demands without adversely affecting other groundwater uses within Western Placer County.
The next regular meeting of the NID Board of Directors will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, September 13 at the NID Business Center located at 1036 West Main Street, Grass Valley. NID Board meetings are open to the public.  The meeting of August 23 has been cancelled.

NID July 12th Board Meeting Highlights

Contact:
Greg Jones
530-273-6185
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NID July 12th Board Meeting Highlights

Grass Valley, CA – July 12, 2017 – On Jul 12th, The Nevada Irrigation District held a board of directors meeting to discuss upcoming projects around water conservation. Present were President Nick Wilcox, Vice President William Morebeck, alongside directors Nancy Weber, John H. Drew, and Scott Miller.

The General Manager reported total acre feet of storage at 249,672, which is 114% of average.  Water conservation among District customers year to date is 22% over 2013 levels.  Precipitation as of June 30 at Bowman Lake is 136” or 202% of average ending the 2nd wettest year on record.

NID’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve an addition to section 4.06.03 of the District’s Water Service Rules and Regulations. This provision, in response to anticipated new state water budget regulations and County zoning ordinances, will create a new customer category for treated water agricultural production.  The provision will require treated water customers engaged in commercial/production agriculture to install a dedicated agriculture meter in addition to a residential use meter. The new smart meters will help treated water agricultural customers reduce operational costs in anticipation of new state regulations governing water use allocations.  Separating domestic residential treated water use from agricultural treated water use will not only minimize potential fines to customers, it will better inform water use needs throughout the District. NID hopes this additional customer category will allow commercial/production agriculture customers to utilize the treated water necessary to sustain agricultural lands.

NID contractor, AECOM, presented Phase III of the preliminary geotechnical investigation for the Centennial Reservoir project. The report, although preliminary, indicates strong bedrock foundation and suitability for the Centennial Dam. The report discussed a construction estimate of $256 million with anticipated construction timeline of 2.5 years. The Centennial Draft EIS is expected to be available for public review and comment by January 2018. More information on the proposed project is posted on NID’s website at www.centennialreservoir.com.

The next regular meeting of the NID Board of Directors will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26th at the NID Business Center located at 1036 West Main Street, Grass Valley. NID Board meetings are open to the public.

California Passes Budget & Funding for NID Mercury Project

Contact:
Greg Jones
(530) 273-6185

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

California Passes Budget & Funding for NID Mercury Project

Grass Valley – Governor Brown has approved the 2017 – 2018 budget, and with it a Proposition 13 appropriation of $6.13 million to treat and remove mercury laden sediment from NID’s Combie Reservoir. The project, in partnership with DWR’s Riverine Stewardship Program, will assess the scaling of new technology and methodologies to remove sediment and mercury from reservoirs and to determine its financial and technical feasibility in an effort that may prove useful to similar 303(d) listed reservoir sites within the Bay Delta area and other California watersheds.

Mercury was introduced to the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the Gold Rush period of the 1800’s and used to process mining ore for gold. Much of the mercury from those days has remained and has led to wide-spread contamination of sediments throughout the Sierra and Central Valley watersheds.

Project funding has been appropriated from the Proposition 13 Bay-Delta Multipurpose Water Management Program through the generous support from the Department of Water Resources under the leadership of Secretary John Laird. This project will help implement both Governor Jerry Brown’s Water Action Plan and the goals of Proposition 13 by restoring water storage capacity in an existing surface water reservoir, removing mercury from the Bear River watershed, and creating long-term benefits to downstream aquatic habitat.

This three year project is anticipated to begin in the summer of 2017. Thank you to our project partners, including the USGS, The Sierra Fund, the Cosumnes-American-Bear-Yuba Integrated Regional Water Management Group (CABY) and Teichert Aggregates for their support.

NID “Thank You” to Customers as South Yuba Canal Resumes Operations

Contact:
Susan Holt
(530) 271-6735

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:repairs-2

Grass Valley – The Nevada Irrigation District extends a sincere “thank you” to treated and agriculture water customers for their extraordinary conservation efforts during the past month while repairs were underway on Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) South Yuba Canal.

The canal serves the Deer Creek Powerhouse and is a main water conveyance facility for NID, supplying water throughout Nevada County. Significant damage to the canal was caused by a landslide during an unusually rainy February, creating a breach and interrupting service. Continued wet weather through April caused repair delays for PG&E.

To ensure adequate supply, NID had requested a temporary water use reduction during May, and district customers stepped up to the challenge. Voluntary cutbacks eliminated the need for mandatory reduction measures. Water is again flowing through the canal and regular deliveries have resumed.

NID would also like to recognize the hard-working crews at PG&E, for allocating the necessary resources and putting in extraordinary hours to repair the canal within the targeted time frame, amidst increment, and at times, extreme weather conditions.

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