Conservation, drought cost NID $3.8M | TheUnion.com

Conservation, drought cost NID $3.8M

Trina Kleist
Special to The Union

Water conservation makes sense, but it comes at a price.

In 2015, the driest and hottest year of Northern California's recent four-year drought, Nevada Irrigation District's treated water customers conserved a record 38 percent that August, compared to benchmark 2013 levels, the district reported.

Water that was saved in 2015 cost NID $3.1 million in lost revenue, utility figures show.

In addition, NID's agricultural customers saved more than 14,000 acre-feet of water, documents show.

The drought cost NID in more ways.

Despite conservation efforts, NID still had to buy water from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in 2015 to assure enough water remained in reservoirs at the end of the year. Water remaining in the reservoirs is called "carry-over." It is "crucial in ensuring minimal supplies for public health and safety going into the next year," Operations Manager Chip Close wrote.

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To ensure sufficient carry-over in 2015, NID bought 16,000 acre-feet of water from PG&E, paying $650,000, Close said.

Neither the PG&E purchase nor the loss from customer conservation was passed on to customers that year.

"It was absorbed through NID's reserves," Close said.

Visit TheUnion.com for more on NID's conservation efforts.

Trina Kleist is a Grass Valley freelance writer whose clients include Nevada Irrigation District. She may be contacted at tkleistwrites@gmail.com or 530-575-6132.