Water provider out $6M | TheUnion.com

Water provider out $6M

The Nevada Irrigation District expects to lose $6 million to $10 million over the next two years in property tax revenues under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget deal with the state’s special districts.

That would be a telling blow to western Nevada County’s water-providing agency, which has $54 million in reserves to cover such a decrease. However, the district also has a quickly deteriorating system that will cost many millions to repair and improve in the near future.

NID General Manager Ron Nelson and other district officials said Wednesday the $3 million they had expected to lose per year for 2004-05 and 2005-06 could increase to $5 million under the plan.

“We can assume it will be $3 million and maybe more,” said Tess Andrews, the district’s finance manager. Andrews said the district took in $7.5 million last year in tax money, making up a good chunk of its $23 million in overall revenue.

Nelson said in the past the district could tap into reserves, cut back on projects and inject other cost cuts into operations to make up the deficit. He did not envision layoffs or rate increases, but his predictions then were based on the $6 million loss.

Nelson said the good news is the governor has promised to back off special districts such as NID after hitting them up for two fiscal years to help finance California schools.

In other business, the board of directors voted Wednesday to encase a half-mile of the Cole Veit Canal in southern Nevada County with a 10-inch pipeline. Area residents sought the improvement when leakage from the canal damaged their properties and created water losses for some consumers.

Board member Nancy Weber said the district should look at the $165,000 project’s overall effects on the environment tied with other NID pipe encasements. She said she doubted documents that said the project would have little impact on the area.

“In L.A., they woke up one day and the river was paved over,” Weber said.

Board member Paul Williams said Weber’s comments were indicative that she “is trying to run the district.”

The open canal is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and West Nile virus, board member John Drew said.

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