Three in race for NID seat
There is a three-way tangle for the Nevada Irrigation District’s Penn Valley-Lake Wildwood area board seat with the deadline to file approaching at 5 p.m. this Friday.
Retired scientist and local activist Nick Wilcox first challenged the Division 5 seat of NID board president George Leipzig in a recent filing. Monday, Jack Meeks filed for a second try at Leipzig, following his 2000 try defeat to him.
The three-way battle may be the only race this year for the board, as Division 3 incumbent Scott Miller was still unopposed Monday, according to the county elections office.
Wilcox is a retired water scientist who spent the last part of his career in state water issues as the Chief of the Bay-Delta Unit of the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Water Rights.
Wilcox said the district “needs to look at all potential ways to create income,” in order to meet needed system upgrades. In particular, NID could raise an additional $2.65 million a year by selling the South Sutter Water Company its annual allotment at market rates rather than the current $18 per acre foot, Wilcox said.
NID Operations Manager Terry Mayfield said NID could indeed raise that much money on the open market for the water, but the rate is part of an agreement reached between the two water districts in the late ’90s that expires in 2013.
“A deal’s a deal,” Mayfield said. It was made in 1980 and raised to $18 in the late ’90s, a 25 percent increase for NID then. NID has had an agreement to sell South Sutter water since before he came to NID 35 years ago, Mayfield said.
Wilcox also said the district needs to develop its raw water master plan to meet rebuilding needs in the future.
Wilcox has some name recognition in the community from his interest in NID and his anti-firearm activism. That activism arose after his daughter, Laura, and two others were slain by a gunman in January 2001, in Nevada City and Grass Valley.
Leipzig is going for his fourth four-year term in office. The retired research and development chemist is the former chairman of the Western Gateway Recreation and Park District and a former Lake Wildwood Citizen of the Year.
Of great concern to Leipzig is the Melody Oaks Irrigation Company in his area and the South Nevada County Mutual Water Company in Miller’s Division 3 sector of Alta Sierra and Lake of the Pines.
“They need assistance from the NID board,” Leipzig said. “The benefit will be to serve more people without water.”
Leipzig said he also wants to the Lower Cascade Canal/Banner Pipeline project to progress for his “fourth and final term.”
Meeks said he realizes it will be an uphill battle to beat a long-term incumbent and another candidate with name recognition. “I don’t want anybody to walk away with it,” said Meeks, who could split the vote in a way his opponents did not foresee.
Meeks said he would like to work on NID getting compensation for the water it produces that rolls out of the county for free use down the line.
“That water is free,” the retired L.A. school teacher said. “This could bring us equity.”
Like Leipzig, Miller said he is interested in expanding the district’s services to small water companies and will work on legislation to accomplish it with State Senator Sam Aanestad of Alta Sierra. In particular, Miller said he would like to get water service to those in the district who pay property taxes for it but are not hooked up.
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