Will more Yuba water head south? | TheUnion.com

Will more Yuba water head south?

The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain, but where does melted snow from the Yuba River watershed go?

While the Yuba doesn’t keep Los Angeles green and verdant like Lake Oroville on the hard-working Feather River, some Yuba water heads south, potentially as far south as San Diego.

And Kern County, just north of Los Angeles County, would like to tap into it.

The West Kern Water District has approached the Yuba County Water Agency, hoping to enter into a 30-year deal by May 1 to buy a relatively small amount of Yuba River water for a hydroelectric plant.

Kern County has offered about $1 million annually for 12,000 acre-feet of water for the first 15 years (about two and a half times what Lake Wildwood can hold). For the next 15 years, Kern County wants about half that much water.

“They’re just talking about it,” said Nancy Jones, YCWA assistant manager.

Meanwhile, YCWA does have plans to sell up to 135,000 acre-feet of Yuba River water this year to something called the Calfed Environmental Water Account. Calfed is the federal and state effort to restore the Bay Delta.

Teresa Geimer, a supervising engineer for the state Department of Water Resources, explained how the account works:

Much of Southern California’s water gets pumped out of the Bay Delta at the Harvey O. Banks Pumping Plant near Tracy.

But at certain times of the year, such as when juvenile salmon and steelhead trout can get sucked into the pumps, the pumping stops. The lost water is replaced later with water from the Environmental Water Account, she said.

There’s no telling where the Yuba water sold to the Environmental Water Account might go, but it’s possible it could go as far south as San Diego, Geimer said.

The YCWA has definitely committed 30,000 acre-feet to the account, and may provide another 105,000 acre-feet, if it’s available. An acre-foot will cover one acre of land with water one foot deep.

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