Groundwater study proposed before county expansion |

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Groundwater study proposed before county expansion

Nevada County could be headed for a disaster if its groundwater supply can’t sustain growth, a businessman said Wednesday.

With little information available about the sustainability of the area’s well water, Steve Baker of HydroSolutions said he would like his company to start long-term monitoring of wells.

Baker told the Yuba-Bear Watershed Council Wednesday he has donated equipment and will give his time to start a well water level study. Baker would get the data detailing the status of the county’s underground water ” often called groundwater ” and share with others and his firm.

“There’s very limited information on groundwater, and we don’t really have a handle at all on its sustainability,” Baker said, noting that 50 percent of county homes are on well water.

Baker said he can start with 10 wells and is looking for other well owners or sponsors to pay $1,600 to $2,500 for equipment to monitor their wells over a lengthy period of years for usage information. The council was receptive, but Baker said he was not sure where the money would come from to expand his test to 30 and then 300 wells in the county.

“What I’m preparing to ask is the question, ‘Will your groundwater be sustainable through the next significant drought?’ ” Baker asked.

Baker and Nancy Weber, a member of the Nevada Irrigation District board of directors, said the study is vital as Nevada County looks at population growth and NID figures out how to meet mounting surface-water customer needs. No such groundwater study has been done, and the county’s general plan does not have any such data.

“This is something that really needs to be done,” Weber said. “If we don’t look for a sustained water supply, we’re headed for disaster.”

NID General Manager Ron Nelson last year said NID had enough water to fuel the county’s expansion but will have trouble if delivery systems need to be built quickly.

NID was urged to do a groundwater study last year as part of its raw water master plan, but declined to do so, saying it dealt in surface water only. NID official Terry Mayfield and county Planning Department official Suzanne Smith said at that time the county and district might study groundwater together, but Smith said Wednesday that has not happened.