NID to explore pipeline option
Nancy Weber turned her frown upside down Wednesday.
Weber, a Nevada Irrigation District director, has been upset with a controversial NID proposal to bury a new 51/2 mile long, roughly 4-foot diameter water pipeline across Banner Mountain, which Weber represents.
But Weber was smiling broadly after she and her fellow directors voted unanimously to study further the less-controversial but more expensive option of tunneling under Banner Lava Cap Road to put the pipeline there.
“I think it’s amazing. What it really (says) is that the board will not be led by the consultants and the staff,” said Weber.
NID chief engineer Tim McCall and engineering consultants wanted NID directors to pick a “preferred alternative” Wednesday for an environmental impact report. The engineers favored putting the pipeline along Wings of Morning Drive and Banner Lava Cap Mine Road.
That would require crossing private property and possibly cutting a swath through the forest. But it would cost about $19 million – $8 million less than the estimated $27 million price tag for tunneling under Banner Lava Cap Road, the engineers said.
About 90 people showed up at Scotten School to oppose the engineers’ preferred alternative. Eighteen people spoke during public comment, expressing fears about the potential effect on such things as their wells, trees and roads.
Some speakers questioned whether it really would be $8 million cheaper to bury the pipeline along the controversial route once NID included factors such as buying pipeline easements and the cost of potential lawsuits from angry residents.
“You’re talking about some valuable property and some people who are fairly affluent … and they are going to stand up,” warned one resident, hinting at a lawsuit.
Some of the crowd’s complaints seemed to resonate with NID directors.
Weber said, “I want to see all the figures, not just the engineering figures.”
Director Scott Miller, of the south county, figured the extra $8 million tunneling cost would only cost NID customers an additional $6 a year over the pipeline’s expected 75-year life span.
Director R. Paul Williams, of Placer County, made the motion that NID look into tunneling under Banner Mountain.
Completing the tunnel study could postpone picking a preferred alternative for the environmental impact report for four or five months.
But the crowd applauded Williams when he said, “I’d rather delay the process and have it right.”
NID wants to install the pipeline to carry about twice the water that now flows through the aging Lower Cascade Canal.
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