Diverse projects improve watersheds, strengthen community: highlights of 2018

January 17, 2019

Diverse projects improve watersheds and strengthen community


Nevada Irrigation District (NID) embraces our mission to safeguard our community’s water and to be responsible stewards of our watersheds.

Year 2018 was filled with diverse projects and programs, such as replacing pipeline and adding new fire hydrants in neighborhoods; removing dead and dying hazard trees in our forested property to reduce fire risk; and opening up camping at Scotts Flat Reservoir to school kids so they could learn about our local watershed.

The District relies on Sierra snowmelt to provide water supply for about 100,000 people. So when the average precipitation during March 2018 was only 33 percent of normal, NID water managers began to get nervous. Thanks to late spring storms, however, our region ended the season with nearly normal precipitation for the year, and we entered into summer with full reservoirs. On May 23, General Manager Rem Scherzinger reported snowpack only was 40 percent of average, yet District water storage was 265,961 acre-feet, which was 127 percent of average for the year and 98 percent maximum reservoir capacity.

Throughout the year, a primary focus was to make the District more efficient in different responsibility areas that included tending to water supply, water quality, recreation, watersheds, hydropower and dam safety.

Here are highlights of what NID accomplished during 2018:


Loma Rica Reservoir cleanup creates more water capacity for community and fire protection

About 1loma-rica2,000 cubic yards of sediment were removed from the Loma Rica Reservoir to regain water storage of about 2.4 million gallons (or 7.4 acre-feet) for community supplies.

The reservoir, located just east of the Nevada County Air Park in Grass Valley, stores raw water delivered through the Cascade Canal and the 48-inch diameter Banner Cascade Pipeline from Deer Creek to the Loma Rica Water Treatment Plant. It also is a supply route for the Chicago Park Canal for raw-water customers. In addition, NID annually contributes up to 1 million gallons of water free of charge to the Nevada County Air Attack Base as part of its community firefighting support. Reservoir water is used to mix air retardant dropped by tankers dispatched from our local airport to fight wildfires regionally and around the state.

* Read the news release about the sediment removal project here.


NID receives a prestigious award for excellence in finance reporting

2018review_febNID earned the Excellence in Financial Reporting for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). “The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management,” noted the Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, the organization that made the award.

The award is a further example of how NID uses responsible financial management to ensure customers receive high quality water at the lowest possible rates.

* Read more the news release about the Excellence in Financial Reporting award here.


Reducing the fire risk by removing hazard trees

2018review_marchNID made great efforts to reduce the risk of wildfire by removing dead, dying and diseased trees during 2018. The Scotts Flat North Forestry Project thinned fire fuels in Campgrounds 1 and 2 – with 169 campsites – and NID property around the reservoir.

NID also received grant funding through the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) for our Yuba Headwaters Healthy Forest Project that will enhance about 550 acres around English Meadow in the Upper Middle Yuba River watershed.

* Read about the Scotts Flat North Forestry Project here.

* Read the news release about English Meadow restoration here.

* Watch a short video about the Scotts Flat North Forestry Project here.


NID provides high-quality water flows for both agricultural and household use

2018review_april1Our annual water quality report once again showed drinking water supplied to NID customers meets and exceeds state and federal public health standards. The report, known as the Consumer Confidence Report, focused on more than 2.9 billion gallons of surface water in 2017 treated and distributed through the Elizabeth L. George, Loma Rica, Lake Wildwood, Lake of The Pines, North Auburn and Cascade Shores water treatment plants.

The report covered a variety of substances, including microbial contaminants (such as viruses and bacteria), inorganic contaminants, pesticides and herbicides and organic chemicals.

In addition, The District began seasonal irrigation water deliveries on Sunday, April 15. NID serves about 5,400 customers who irrigate more than 31,000 acres with untreated “raw” water in Placer and Nevada counties, including farmers and ranchers who connect into 2018review_april2NID canal systems to irrigate their pastures, orchards and farms. They received full deliveries in 2018.

* Read the Consumer Confidence Report here.

* Watch a short video about a local farmer conserving water through drip irrigation here.

* Read a news release about the onset of the irrigation season here.



Recreation kicks into high gear

2018review_may1When NID recreational facilities opened for camping and outdoor activities in the spring, guests were greeted with many improvements. In addition to general tidying up in preparation of the busy summer season, campground improvements included new picnic tables for all campsites at Scotts Flat; construction of a new store at Orchard Springs; new boat slips at Long Ravine, Orchard Springs and Peninsula; and a new slide at Long Ravine. 2018review_may2In addition, 60 workers were hired for 2018 seasonal assignments at recreation sites.

Kayaks, paddleboards, canoes and sailboats took over Scotts Flat on Saturday, May 20 during the 11th annual No Motor Day. * Read about No Motor Day here.

* Read more about NID recreation here.


Mulch Magic Giveaway – 150 cubic yards delight residents

2018review_june1Starting early in the morning on June 2, residents with trucks lined up to load free shredded redwood for use in their gardens and yards during the 3rd Annual Mulch Magic Giveaway at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

By 12:30 pm, all of the mulch – a total of 150 cubic yards – was gone! Every year, NID and the Nevada County Resource Conservation District sponsor the popular event.

The Mulch Magic Giveaway is part of NID’s continuing efforts to promote conscientious water use and conservation.

* Read more about the mulch giveaway here.


The new Penn Valley pipeline makes a huge difference

2018review_july1NID crews focused on a major upgrade to the Penn Valley water system to address pressure issues and modernizing fire protection capabilities. Workers replaced the old, deteriorating pipeline system with 10,000 linear feet (nearly 2 miles) of new pipe. On any given day, they installed up to 300 feet of pipe!

The new, modern hydrants and larger-diameter pipe will provide a boost in water available to fight fires in the area.

Water to the Penn Valley area comes from Scotts Flat Reservoir and flows down Deer Creek to Nevada City where it is diverted into the Newtown Canal. Water then moves down the Newtown Canal to NID’s Lake Wildwood Water Treatment Plant where treated drinking water is produced for Lake Wildwood and Penn Valley.

* Read more about the PV Pipeline project here


NID hosts a roundtable for a new option for power – Community Choice Aggregation

2018review_augIn an exploration about how our community might provide its own energy supply, more than 80 people attended an NID-hosted roundtable discussion about Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) on Aug. 23.

CCA is a growing as a way for local governments and utility agencies to provide residents and businesses with a choice of an electric generation provider. Experts covered topics including the basics, (the what, why and how of CCA), benefits, the formation process, a case study presentation and an Q&A. The roundtable discussion was an example of how NID is working to leverage opportunities to ensure future sustainability.

* View the agenda here.


NID’s Hydro team powers on


NID’s hydroelectric team is charged with ensuring the District’s seven power plants, which have a generation capacity of 82.2 megawatts and produce an average 375 million kilowatt hours of energy each year. NID sells its electrical output to the Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

NID also works to ensure its 15 dams are safe by performing weekly and monthly inspections and working with the California Division of Safety of Dams and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

* Read more about NID’s dam safety program here.

2018review_sept3NID’s hydro team was in charge of the installation of a new sensing line on the face of Sawmill Dam, built in 1910 near Bowman Lake. A two-inch conduit running down the face of the dam is part of the system to measure the lake level and notify NID’s hydro department if the water level drops unexpectedly.

* Learn more about NID’s hydroelectric power here.




Healthy watersheds – healthy community: NID showcases its watershed stewardship projects

 2018review_oct2About 100 people of all ages gathered on the evening of Oct. 18 to learn about NID efforts to restore and protect the watersheds that provide our water, during the District’s first annual Watershed Open House. Nine projects were showcased, ranging from restoration of montane meadows and improving fish habitat to reducing the risk of catastrophic fire in our forests.

An example: the multi-year restoration work being done in English Meadow (elevation 6,152 feet) where the Middle Yuba River flows through on its way into Jackson Meadows Reservoir. NID’s project seeks to reconnect the meadow to the Middle Yuba to increase functionality. More water will accumulate as the spongy ground absorbs snowmelt runoff and percolates it through the soil. The water will remain in the meadow longer into the year. This will increase groundwater and reduce sediment into Jackson Meadows Reservoir, saving water storage capacity.

* Read more about the English Meadow project here.

* Read descriptions of all nine projects showcased at the Open House here.


Combie Reservoir Mercury Removal Project gears up

 2018review_nov1About 40,000 cubic yards of dry sediment was hauled from Combie Reservoir in the Fall as the start of a major pilot project. Next up in 2019, NID will remove and clean sediment and mercury using an innovative centrifuge process to reduce elemental mercury in the Bear River watershed. The removed sediment will reduce potential human exposure to methylmercury, as well as restore water storage capacity in the reservoir.

This pilot project in intended to demonstrate that mercury can be effectively removed from river sediments. The technology then can then be applied at other reservoirs throughout the Sierra Nevada.

* Read more about the project here.

* Watch a short video about the project here.


Citizens generate hundreds of ideas for long-term water management planning

The first two wo2018review_dec1rkshops to help plan for our water future drew people from all sectors of our community who offered hundreds of ideas about strategies and practicalities. The workshops – one in Grass Valley and the other in North Auburn – sought input and introduced the Plan for Water process that will create a vision for NID’s water management plans and subsequent programs and projects.

Among the suggestions during the first workshop, which drew about 70 people in Grass Valley, included:

  • Increase consumer education that leads to shared responsibility for resource management
  • Create baseline common understanding of water use coupled with transparent science and a data-driven process.

Key themes generated from the second input session, which drew about 45 people, in North Auburn, included:

  • Increase watershed resource management with community involvement
  • Protect local community (reservoir maintenance, forest management, local agriculture, recreation, energy and economic growth)
  • Develop best practices for water conservation with education and incentives.

* Read the full lists of community suggestions here.

* Read the news release about the workshops here.

* Learn more about the Plan for Water process at planforwater.org