NID’s Centennial Dam project declared ineligible for state funding | TheUnion.com

NID’s Centennial Dam project declared ineligible for state funding

The California Water Commission has officially declared the Centennial Dam project application, submitted by the Nevada Irrigation District, is ineligible for Water Storage Investment Program Proposition 1 funding.

The Commissioners' unanimous ruling came late on Tuesday, according to a press release from the South Yuba River Citizens League. Tuesday was the first day of a three-day meeting focused on finalizing the public benefit ratio scores for all project applicants.

That decision came as no surprise, after NID opted not to appeal an initial review in February that found the reservoir would not qualify for funding based on the requirements of the grant.

At its Feb. 14 meeting, NID's board of directors unanimously approved a request by the Foothills Water Network to not appeal its public benefit ratio score.

"At the request of the Foothills Water Network, the board directed staff not to appeal NID's preliminary public benefit ratio of zero," said NID General Manager Remleh Scherzinger on Thursday. "Had we been allowed to appeal, I am sure NID would have improved our public benefit ratio score, and through the process would have been able to tap into state money and returned much-needed funds to our community."

NID did not appear in front of the water commission to contest the decision.

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On Tuesday, Melinda Booth, SYRCL's executive director, testified during public comment in support of the ineligibility ruling. She told the commissioners that in addition to the 3,000 letters the league delivered in February, she had 400 more asking them to take the final step and vote Centennial ineligible.

Now that the Centennial Dam project has been found ineligible, NID will not move forward in the evaluation process.

"While this action in itself does not stop the project from being built, it does seriously question the viability of Centennial's premise," Booth said. "A panel of California state experts found no value in the project as related to public benefits."

NID had applied for nearly $12 million from the investment program, out of a total estimated cost of $342 million for the reservoir.

"The case for the proposed Centennial Water Supply Project is compelling and the benefits to our region are numerous," Scherzinger said. "The project is a critical part of a much larger solution set needed to meet future water shortages facing our community, including providing the supply necessary to support sustainable agriculture, the environmental and our municipal needs."

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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