NID defends water rights |

NID defends water rights

Nevada Irrigation District officials defended water rights Wednesday for the $12 million Lower Cascade Canal/Banner Cascade Pipeline Project, despite state doubts.

In July, State Water Resources Control Board official Katherine Mrowka wrote the board a letter challenging NID’s rights to sell 16,500 new acre feet of water per year from the project. Mrowka said the water is first used by PG&E for hydroelectric power production and then dumped into NID’s system.

Mrowka’s staff said a water right for hydro power could not be used again for new consumption purposes, unless another right is established. NID lawyer Jeff Meith disagreed.

Although the project will replace part of the old Cascade Canal with a pipe, Meith indicated the change should not strip NID’s rights to the water.

“It doesn’t change the bottom line that the water rights are solid,” Meith said. “The water rights supporting all components of the district system are intact.”

Chief Engineer Tim McCall said a response to Mrowka is being developed and will be issued after all comments are in on the draft environmental report in the near future.

In other news:

– The board rejected a plea from fellow board member Nancy Weber to study the costs of a tunnel for the same pipeline project. The tunnel idea has already been rejected by the district, but Weber said she wanted cost comparisons compared to pipelines.

– Directors voted unanimously but reluctantly to pay $92,000 extra to consultant Jeff Twitchell for the update of the Raw Water Master Plan. Board members said they understood Twitchell was giving them a better product than first envisioned but did not like its mounting costs. The original budget was $474,000, which increased to $555,000 when Twitchell reported an overrun of almost $77,000 last November. The cost has now risen to $647,000.

Twitchell said the first cost overrun was caused by taking more time to wade through NID data than first expected. The second overrun came when he decided to increase the plan’s scope and data without board approval.

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