Anti-dam activists rally in Sacramento to show opposition to NID’s Centennial reservoir | TheUnion.com

Anti-dam activists rally in Sacramento to show opposition to NID’s Centennial reservoir

The California Water Commission, which is evaluating the Nevada Irrigation District's application in pursuit of state funding for the proposed Centennial dam, was greeted by a surprise group of visitors Wednesday.

Dressed in lifejackets and wielding kayak paddles, about 60 demonstrators stood outside the Commission's monthly meeting in Sacramento Wednesday to show their opposition to the Centennial project on the Bear River.

The South Yuba River Citizens League has gathered over 3,000 letters from community members opposed to the state funding a portion of the estimated $342 million reservoir. The organization submitted those letters to the Water Commission electronically this month.

Melinda Booth, SYRCL's executive director, said the demonstration Wednesday — a combined effort between SYRCL, the Foothills Water Network and the Sierra Club — was a visual representation of those letters.

"We wanted to show them the public support we have," Booth said. "There's so much support for the Bear River staying as it is. There's so much anti-dam activity in the community, and we wanted that to be seen in Sacramento, where our legislators and the Water Commission are making these decisions."

In the Water Commission's initial review of NID's application for Water Storage Investment Program funding, the district, which requested nearly $12 million from the program, wasn't projected to receive any funding toward Centennial.

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NID had an opportunity to appeal that review before the commission's final decision about program funding, but the district's board of directors chose not to appeal, noting the dam project doesn't seem qualified for program funding based on the Water Commission's standards.

But Centennial, along with 11 other projects, is still in the running for Investment Program funding. The Water Commission is expected to make final decisions about how it will allocate program money in the coming months.

Booth thanked Water Commissioners Wednesday for their transparency in the process of deciding which projects will receive Investment Program money. She also commended the commission's initial review of Centennial.

"We thought the Centennial project didn't meet those requirements (for program funding)," she said. "Turns out, the reviewers agreed with us."

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.

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