NID sticks thumb in potential leaks |

NID sticks thumb in potential leaks

The risk of major water leaks in Nevada Irrigation District canals forced board members to OK some plugging projects Wednesday.

At the top of the list was the Combie Aqueduct on the Nevada-Placer county line. The canal failed two years ago when the concrete gave way, causing hillside debris to tumble into the Bear River.

That failure was fixed, but now another problem has popped up about one mile upstream. NID engineer Bill Schell said groundwater has saturated the ground underneath the aqueduct, which could lead to the concrete settling and another failure.

“All structures like solid ground,” Schell said. He convinced the board to authorize spending up to $200,000 to install “a giant French drain” to release the groundwater. The 260-feet-long by 20-feet-deep drain is similar to one used on the section that failed two years ago.

“We’ve got to get that done,” said district Operations Manager Terry Mayfield. “We hope to have it completed by September before the rains.”

Mayfield also told the board there will be a two-hour flow outage in the Cascade Canal today in order to fix leaks.

“Our system is aged and fatigued, and it’s catching up with us,” Mayfield said. “It’s going to be a tight year,” for water distribution. “I hope July and August are abnormally cool.”

In other news:

• The board voted to build a $600,000 solar power project for the district’s water treatment plant in northern Auburn. PG&E will pay half of that cost under a state energy conservation program. The 80-kilowatt solar system could produce up to 16 percent of the plant’s yearly energy needs and save money in the long run, Maintenance Manager Robin Lantz said.

• Board members voted to keep all interest from the $6.5 million hydroelectric relicensing fund in the account. Half of it was being dispersed elsewhere. The district expects to spend about $10 million to relicense its hydroelectric facilities by 2013.

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