Treated water is now available for residents adjacent to the alignment on Idaho Maryland Road and Lee Lane. Contact NID Customer Service at 530-273-6185 for connection information.
The Banner Cascade Pipeline Project is a major $41 million upgrade designed to strengthen water supply reliability to western Nevada County. It is also a job that impacts the lives and properties of those living in the project area.
This is where the activities of NID’s two part-time Ombudspeople come in. Hugh Gordon and Sarah Rohde are serving as project liaisons and keeping channels of communication open between area residents, NID and its contractors on the job.
Ombudspeople are appointed by government agencies to investigate and report on concerns raised by citizens. They are also responsible for monitoring the performance of NID and its contractors on the job. The magnitude and alignment of the Cascade project through rural, forested Banner Mountain neighborhoods makes it easy to see that local concerns would arise.
The Cascade project includes 6.4 miles of large diameter raw water pipeline and another 5.5 miles of treated water pipeline. The project will enable NID to take some of the water from the Cascade Canal across the southern flank of Banner Mountain to two water treatment plants and service areas across western Nevada County. Completion is scheduled for late 2011.
Through detailed planning and studies, NID has worked to mitigate construction impacts as much as possible. The presence of the two onsite ombudspeople has helped the district in its efforts to build support and cooperation among area residents.
Hugh Gordon is on his third ombudsman assignment for NID. He’s a Grass Valley native and retired AT&T representative who helped NID with property issues on the Upper Cascade Canal upgrade from 2000 to 2002.
Gordon later spent three years working with residents at Combie Reservoir after NID became concerned about numerous unauthorized private docks on the publicly-owned reservoir. The issue has since been resolved through a permit program.
Sarah Rohde, a UCLA graduate with a background in advertising, came to her ombudsperson role by a different route. She and her husband, Chris, reside on Banner Mountain and had participated in neighborhood meetings as NID planned the Cascade project. “We had concerns,” she said. “We didn’t want to be angry or unreasonable; we wanted to be heard. I wasn’t looking for a job.”
Rohde’s organization and communication skills impressed NID General Manager Ron Nelson enough that he offered her the parttime contract position. She’s been on the job since June.
They Stay Informed, Listen, Provide Answers
Understanding the large project and staying informed is the first responsibility for the ombudspeople. They listen and find and provide answers. They alert residents as construction moves through different areas, posting notices, making calls and going door to door.
Rohde said residents sometimes have concerns or complaints but are generally understanding and supportive. She enjoys finding solutions and helping those affected by the project.
Gordon said the project is going smoothly. “I’ve heard from the construction crews that the people have been friendly and nice to them. For me,” he said, “it’s gratifying to get thank-you’s from the property owners.”
An added benefit of NID’s current Banner Cascade Pipeline Project may be the addition of a small hydroelectric power station. The 1.68-megawatt station is being planned for a site near the Loma Rica reservoir and water treatment plant. Design work could begin in 2011, funding permitting.