Hubbub arises over NID repair bid |

Hubbub arises over NID repair bid

A seemingly innocuous bid to enclose a half mile of Nevada Irrigation District ditch Wednesday erupted into an environmental battle that had one district board member questioning how well the water provider follows the law.

No one was necessarily against replacing 2,600 feet of the Cole Viet Canal along Wolf Road in south Nevada County. Area landowners said they are sick of the existing canal, which leaks and harms their properties.

But NID board of directors’ member Nancy Weber and Save Our Historic Canals member Susan Sanders said the proposed project was typical of the district’s apparent disdain for wildlife habitat and riparian areas, an approach they said is shown every time the district encases an old canal. The women also said the cumulative effects of the encasements over the years have not been addressed by NID, possibly in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.

“We need to follow California environmental law, and we’re not doing that,” Weber said. “We need an overall plan on what canals to encase and what to leave open. We have to keep some habitat.”

In the end, no vote was taken on the project after director Paul Williams made a motion to approve a statement that it would not cause environmental problems. Only Williams, Weber and Vice Chairman John Drew were in attendance, and NID rules call for three “yes” votes to pass a motion.

Drew said he did not bother to second Williams’ motion because he knew Weber would vote against it. Directors George Leipzig and Scott Miller were absent.

But Drew did call for the matter to come back before the board in the near future, and Weber said she expects it to pass then.

“We need to approve this project and get it under way,” Williams said.

Area homeowner Laura Christofk agreed, saying she resented Sanders’ opposition to the project.

“She hasn’t even walked the site,” Christofk said.

Christofk said the leaking ditch turns half her land into a bog that her horses then harm even further. She also said she has rotting fences and algae problems.

“It’s just completely a nightmare,” she said.

“It’s in serious need of some kind of repair,” said Robyn Clark, whose home comes within a few feet of the canal. “It’s really become a headache over the years.”

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