NID Seeks Community Input at Plan for Water Workshops
While we might not all agree on just about anything these days, one thing that we can all agree on is that we need to make sure that we are able to have access to water now and in the future. That is why the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) is initiating a new, groundbreaking community collaboration process to support the District’s 50-year Raw Water Master Plan (RWMP). The “Plan for Water” process incorporates all of NID’s community voices to create alternative solutions for water resources management that considers everyone across the District, and YOU are invited and encouraged to participate.
This is not a typical public comment project. The public isn’t being asked to line up for a one-time chance to speak. This is a brand new way of doing business that puts a community-wide strategic vision at the front of the water resources planning process.
“We are trying to be deliberate in saying that this is not public comment, but public participation,” said Rem Scherzinger, General Manager of NID. “The Plan for Water process is about bringing all community perspectives and priorities to the table.”
Creating a neutral space that brings all community views and values together effectively is a big job. Recognizing this, the District hired consultants to facilitate a balanced and structured process. The goal of Plan for Water is to include interests and values that span all interests that depend on water, including agriculture, the ecosystem, development, and foothill lifestyles.
“In an effort to make this as genuine a public process as we can, we have to create a separation between the process and the District,” explained Jim Crowley, the program manager heading up the Plan for Water team. “The magnitude of the effort we are trying to engage in needs a solid foundation for NID and the community to work together upon.”
The District’s current RWMP was completed approximately 10 years ago. Since that time, new and emerging regulatory requirements, water rights issues, and potential climate impacts have developed and need to be considered for the future. These issues will likely limit water supply availability for current and future water users, ushering in an era of resource-limited planning for the community. Plan for Water gives NID the opportunity to reimagine their stewardship responsibilities; a difficult proposition for the 96-year-old agency but a challenge that they are eager to embrace.
The Plan for Water process is expected to go through August 2020, with the first phase of convening the community through multiple touchpoints kicking off in December. During the coming months, the process will form a Community Representatives Group (CRG) that will be charged with developing a range of strategy and policy directions. Those wishing to contribute with less commitment can also attend the numerous planned public workshops held throughout the process or talk to CRG members to provide input. Whether as part of the CRG working group or as an ad hoc contributing voice, Plan for Water offers multiple ways for community members to be involved.
“There is no single decision that comes out of this; we are not driving at a single solution. Everyone who comes to this table gets to bring a solution forward and engage in the process. All ideas are welcomed and I believe the more voices we have that are brought into the circle the better the solutions will be,” Scherzinger said.
NID is not expecting to have one solution come from this process, but rather a variety of ways to manage the water of which NID is the steward. Currently, NID is projecting a water debt, meaning that the demand is higher than the supply and in the case of a three to five year drought, they could not meet their customers’ projected water demands based on what the past has been.
Solutions that have been suggested by community groups and organizations so far include storage, conservation, meadow restoration, canal lining, and development moratoriums. In the Plan for Water process, these and other ideas become part of the pathways. With each pathway, the community also identifies impacts to the community’s vision and values so that the full impact of each pathway on the community is considered.
“The whole process is about identifying options that best meet our community’s needs,” Scherzinger explained. “This is a very diverse community with different reasons why live they in the foothills. It’s water that provides the ability for everyone to live here. We recognize that this is a limited resource and we must find the best way to ensure that our community is sustainable for decades to come.”
To help shape the future of water usage in our community, plan to attend an upcoming public workshop:
Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, 10 a.m.-noon at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, or
Monday, Dec. 10, 4-6 p.m. at Rock Creek Elementary School, 3050 Bell Road, Auburn
For more information about the Plan for Water process, visit PlanforWater.org.
Paid for by Nevada Irrigation District
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