When Alta Sierra resident Mike Rugge visited his gravity-powered irrigation ditch Monday morning to ensure it was properly serving the modest garden he grows, he found it was dry.
“I irrigate every day, but today, I had to scramble to water the garden with the hose,” said Rugge, who maintains a couple of acres with a garden he regularly waters with Nevada Irrigation District raw water.
On Sunday afternoon, a leak appeared in the South Yuba Canal off Zeibright Road, which siphons water from upper elevation reservoirs, compromising NID’s ability to deliver water to its customers throughout western Nevada County.
“For those who receive irrigation water, the canals will appear almost dry,” said NID Water Operations Manager Chip Close. “Those who receive treated water, we are asking them to conserve.”
The South Yuba Canal is owned by Pacific Gas & Electric, but the canal delivers water to Scotts Flat Lake, which serves as a major launching point for NID’s canal system.
Residents in proximity to the canal heard a large noise, said PG&E spokesman Jason King.
“Something must’ve hit the flume,” King said.
The breach occurred in an upper elevation portion of the canal owned by PG&E when a portion of the flume shifted, causing an immediate emergency outage, Close said.
Multiple agencies had repair crews on scene Monday, Close said.
The repairs were expected to be completed by the end of the day but might take longer, given the length of the section necessitating emergency repairs, Close said.
The areas affected include treated and irrigation water customers in and around Grass Valley, Nevada City, Alta Sierra, Chicago Park, Cedar Ridge and South County.
The large water leak comes on a day when high temperatures are expected to soar to 103 degrees in Grass Valley.
The Sierra foothills will witness the mercury rise past 100 degrees throughout the week, including the Fourth of July holiday Thursday.
Hot temperatures are expected to peak Wednesday and Thursday, said forecaster Drew Peterson with the U.S. National Weather Service, with highs of 106 degrees on both days.
Three-digit highs will break toward the weekend, but above-average heat will remain in western Nevada County for the foreseeable future, Peterson said.
The heat wave also features overnight lows in the low 70s, said Peterson, which compounds the risk for those susceptible to heat stroke and other health-related problems.
“Typically, overnight is when the body recovers from the heat, but it can be harder for the body to recover when temperatures stay high during the night,” he said.
Further exacerbating the heat wave is the unseasonable moisture in the atmosphere as a result of an unusual precipitation event that struck the foothills last week.
Monsoonal moisture is also traveling north from the Baja California region, Peterson said.
The culprit is a high-pressure system that originated in the Four Corners region and migrated west to center over Nevada.
Heat is the No. 1 killer when it comes to weather phenomenon, Peterson said, killing more people than floods, lightning, tornados or hurricanes.
Residents are urged to stay indoors where it’s cool and drink plenty of water, even when not thirsty, according to a press release issued by the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services. Avoid strenuous activity or exercise and avoid exposure to direct sunlight, where temperatures are typically about 15 degrees higher.
Residents without air conditioners are advised to visit cool public places like shopping centers and movie theaters, the release states.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4239.