Winter storms clog water canal |

Winter storms clog water canal

Strong winter storms in the high Sierra caused 62 trees to fall into PG&E’s South Yuba Canal over the holidays into January, and cleanup efforts have been going on ever since.

The canal comes out of Lake Spaulding at about 5,000 feet elevation and runs 20 miles downstream to the Deer Creek Power Plant, said PG&E spokesman Dave Ward. The lake and canal serve as links to Nevada Irrigation District’s high-elevation storage reservoirs and its delivery system lower in the Sierra.

“We’re still clearing trees out,” Ward said Tuesday. “Once the water stopped flowing (the canal) fills with snow and it turns into ice,” which also has to be cleared.

One tree smashed through the old wooden flume portion of the canal near Bear Valley, halting flow to Scotts Flat Reservoir on Christmas Eve, Ward said. Since then, PG&E has generated no electricity from its Deer Creek Powerhouse and NID has lost the normal runoff the canal would produce.

NID and PG&E officials Tuesday said water for the district’s customers has been coming from Scotts Flat Reservoir. When PG&E completes shoring up the canal at the end of this week, water will be spilled down Deer Creek to help refill Scotts Flat.

NID board members learned of the damage at the district’s Water and Hydroelectric Operations Committee meeting.

Despite the water loss, snowpack water levels were at about 131 percent of average at the end of January, according to Don Wight, the district’s water operations manager. Wight warned the April snow survey will tell the district how much water it will really have for the upcoming irrigation year.

“We need about 30 more inches of rain,” Wight said, reminding the committee that last March was extremely dry.

In other NID news:

• General Manager Ron Nelson said plans to bring water to the Cement Hill area above Nevada City are “still preliminary and rough.” The plan could serve as little as 38 parcels up to more than 130, Nelson said.

As part of the plan, NID is talking to the county about future needs for the Rood Administrative Center government building. The district has also sent an application to the state for a low-interest loan to help build the proposed system.

• Wight said the South County Mutual Water Company near Higgins Corner will probably not see any irrigation water deliveries this year because of the need of a new easement for the system. The parcel owners involved have also said they are having trouble finding a contractor to install the needed pipe.

• The Melody Oaks Mutual Irrigation Company between Penn Valley and Smartville will get a new service outlet this year, Wight said. Once installed, the new water company will install a pump to serve the area that lacked irrigation water for many years.

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