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Innovative partnership to bring water to dry Rodeo Flat

Residents of a dry, hillside community known as Rodeo Flat have been trying for eight years to get water through the Nevada Irrigation District.

As residents of the southern Nevada County neighborhood inch closer to getting piped treated water, their progress in forging an innovative partnership with NID offers hope to others in the foothills with unproductive wells.

Last year, five wells in the arid region failed, said NID Assistant Manager Tim Crough. Drilling a new well can cost between $10,000 and $20,000.



NID’s board of directors is expected to agree to form an assessment district in Rodeo Flat at their regular scheduled meeting at 9 a.m. today at 1036 W. Main St. in Grass Valley. The Nevada County Board of Supervisors consented to the district in January.

An informal survey of the 36 parcel owners living in Rodeo Flat, west of Lake of the Pines, showed 92 percent supported forming an assessment district to bring water to the arid region.




“If you don’t have a well, your constantly living on the edge,” Crough said.

If approved, it will be the first assessment district in NID’s history and will serve as a pilot project for other hilltop communities suffering from wells that run dry, Crough said.

“We’re kind of testing new water. This is a new way of doing things for the district and we’re taking it slow,” Crough said. He has experience establishing assessment districts and community facilities districts in Southern California and the city of Grass Valley.

Late last year, registered voters of the much larger Nevada City community of Cement Hill approved a community facilities district in coordination with NID. Cement Hill has 240 parcels, some of which can’t be built on because of unreliable wells.

A community facilities district is approved by residents who also are registered to vote in Nevada County. An assessment district, however, is approved by property owners in the district, regardless of where they are registered to vote.

In Rodeo Flat, fewer than a third of property owners are registered to vote in Nevada County, Crough said.

The Rodeo Flat project will cost an estimated $1.8 million. NID will cover the first $1 million through funds from a community investment program from property taxes and capacity charges.

Property owners will pay the remaining $800,000 over a period of 25 years. Property owners will pay about $1,800 a year, or $150 a month plus additional costs for a water meter, Crough said.

If the board approves the resolution, the balloting process can begin and will culminate with a public hearing in April. After that, NID will move through the financiing process by issuing a tax-free bond with 5 percent interest. The district guarantees it will own the bond if a buyer can’t be found.

Design work is scheduled to start in 2009, followed by construction in 2010.

“We’re really excited to make this thing work,” Crough said.

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To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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