Local water supplies threatened by state action
June 11, 2014
As the California drought grows more serious, leaders of the Nevada Irrigation District are preparing strategies to preserve local water supplies in face of growing downstream demand.
The drought and the state's May 27 order that stream diversions be curtailed were the subjects of presentations at Wednesday's meeting of the NID Board of Directors.
The meeting was attended by several members of the Nevada County and Placer County agricultural communities, who are trying to get through this unusually dry year. Annual agricultural production in NID's two-county service area is estimated at $98 million.
NID General Manager Rem Scherzinger, General Counsel Jeff Meith and Special Counsel Dustin Cooper briefed the board on Gov. Brown's emergency drought declaration, the state water board's curtailment of junior (post-1914) water right diversions, and a possible July 1 action on senior (pre-1914) water rights.
NID holds numerous senior and junior water rights — some among the oldest in the state — that are used to divert water into reservoirs and supply homes, farms and businesses in Nevada and Placer counties.
Scherzinger said the current drought and water shortage should be seen as a sign of things to come. He and members of the board said NID must look into all options for securing water, including conservation, storage expansion and building additional water storage, a sentiment echoed by several farmers and ranchers in the audience.
Cooper cited examples of other north state water right holders who are experiencing difficult conditions as the result of the state's curtailment order. He said the state Water Resources Control Board's emergency action used a flawed process that lacked evidence and participation.
Meith noted that a majority of this year's thin but early snowpack runoff had already been captured in NID reservoirs when the state's curtailment order was issued. He said, however, that the order, effective for up to 270 days, could seriously impact NID's ability to collect water next fall and winter when NID replenishes its reservoirs. State action on senior water rights could further hamper NID's ability to supply its customers, he said.
Officials said NID would continue its advocacy effort in the state water planning process and consider other options in the protection of local water supplies.
In other business, directors heard a water supply update from Water Operations Manager Chip Close who reported that NID water storage is at 86 percent of capacity (near normal for this time of year) but is expected to dip to 50 percent or less by late October. The district is urging all customers to reduce their usage by 20 percent until the drought is over.
The next regular meeting of the NID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on June 25, at the NID Business Center in Grass Valley. NID board meetings are open to the public.
NID employees recognized
Nine employees were recognized in a semi-annual service award presentation hosted by the NID Board of Directors.
Maintenance Supt. Jeff Brady and Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Huey were recognized for 35 years of employment service with the district.
Asst. Water Supt. Warren Hart earned recognition for 30 years of service while 20-year service awards went to Water Operations Manager Chip Close, Meter Reader Lawrence Lockwood and Maintenance Supervisor Todd Newman.
Receiving recognition for 10 years of service were Board Secretary Lisa Tassone, Senior Finance Asst. Cheryl Harris and Hydroelectric Generation Supervisor Jerry Green.
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