Leaders of the Nevada Irrigation District on Wednesday called for NID water users to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 10-15 percent until ongoing drought conditions have eased.
The NID board of directors declared a stage II drought emergency and authorized staff to purchase additional water under the district’s contract with the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. NID has its own mountain watershed but occasionally purchases extra water.
The stage II drought emergency is the lowest level in the NID Drought Contingency Plan and relies mainly on voluntary conservation measures by the district’s customers.
Directors left open the possibility for mandatory cutbacks if adequate water storage levels are not being maintained later this year. One possible measure is a shortening of the 2014 irrigation season, which normally runs from April 15 to Oct. 14.
Stage II calls for NID to keep total water storage at no less than 75 percent of average year-to-year carryover storage. Water Operations Manager Chip Close said the district is aiming toward carrying over a minimum of 110,000 acre feet of water storage for 2015. NID’s storage capacity is 280,380 acre feet.
The drought declaration comes near the end of a third straight dry year in the region. Near record dry conditions persisted through January of this year, but February and March brought welcome relief, with 33 inches of precipitation at Bowman Reservoir (elev. 5650 feet), an amount that is 147 percent of average for the two-month period.
While district water storage has risen to average levels, reservoirs are expected to drop this year because of reduced runoff from the snowpack, which now holds only 35 percent of average water content.
In a water supply update to the board, Water Operations Administrator Sue Sindt said that Jackson Meadows, Bowman and Scotts Flat reservoirs are not expected to fill this year and that impacts on public recreation are expected later this summer. She said the Cascade Shores boat ramp at Scotts Flat may be out of water by Labor Day.
Close said district customers are aware of the drought and are responding to calls for water conservation.
“Things have improved, and we’re not facing the emergency situation we saw earlier this year,” he said. “If we all pitch in and reduce our water use by 10-15 percent, we should be able to hit our carryover targets.”
In other business, NID directors:
• authorized staff to implement a new banking services program with Wells Fargo Bank to include new credit card, debit card and website payment programs. The new program is anticipated to be ready in the next few months.
• voted to elect NID Division V Director Nick Wilcox as special district representative on the Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission.
• accepted a proposal from Hills Flat Lumber Co. of Grass Valley to operate a kayak and stand-up paddleboard rental concession this summer at the Orchard Springs Campground at Rollins Reservoir.
The next regular meeting of the NID board of directors will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 23, at the NID Business Center in Grass Valley. NID board meetings are open to the public.