NID to buy water from PG&E
NID budgets $620,000 for 16,000 acre feet of water from their shared watershed in Eastern Nevada County.
To ensure an adequate water supply, the Nevada Irrigation District is making arrangements to purchase supplemental water from PG&E — a move it says is happening after one of the worst years for rainfall in over 100 years.
The importance of finding additional water supplies continues to increase as drought intensifies. Based on an analysis and forecasts, the purchase of supplemental water is necessary to safeguard public health and safety supplies in the event that the 2021-22 winter is dry. The intent of the purchase is to bolster carryover storage heading into the 2022 water year.
NID Operations Manager Chip Close detailed the water conditions during the Board of Director’s Wednesday meeting. Seasonal precipitation at Bowman Lake was only 51% of average, at 33.95 inches. The forecasted carryover storage could drop to 106,700 acre feet — a level not seen since 2001.
As a result of grim precipitation and a runoff that has tapered off, Close said reservoir storage is affected. It is currently the third driest year that NID has experienced since 1900.
“The outlook for carryover storage is bleak,” Close said in a press release.
NID’s Public Information Officer Tomi Riely said water users are already using up the storage collected last year.
NID observed the community making strides in optimizing its water usage prior to the pandemic. Now, she is concerned that the community will face mandatory reductions in water use by midsummer.
“We’re aiming for maybe the worst year we’ve had,” Riely said. “All the advances have been erased and usage spiked.”
The board on Wednesday approved a budget amendment of $620,000 for the water’s purchase. The action will enable NID to purchase nearly 16,000 acre feet of water from PG&E throughout the summer.
The funds for the PG&E purchases are being transferred from three departments: Operations ($70,000), Recreation ($200,000) and Engineering ($350,000). Each department has found ways to accommodate the transfers with no impact to water delivery to customers or district projects.
In one case, the Recreation Department was able to transfer $200,000 by withholding the purchase of a generator for the Scotts Flat Campground. The transfer of funds will be offset by a donation of a re-purposed generator from the water division.
According to the California Water Board’s website, PG&E coordinates its operations at the Upper Drum-Spaulding Hydroelectric Project with NID’s Yuba-Bear Hydroelectric Project in eastern Nevada County.
Riely said NID and PG&E use a Coordinated Operating Agreement (COA) because they share the same watershed and some of the affiliated infrastructure.
“The agreement has been in place since the early 1960s,” Riely explained. “NID generally purchases water in dry years to supplement our supply.”
Paul Moreno, with PG&E marketing and communications, said the utility diverts water from Lake Spaulding on behalf of NID and the Placer County Water Agency, as needed.
NID purchased water from PG&E in 2014 and 2015, during the last drought, Riely said.
Source: Nevada Irrigation District
Staff Writer Rebecca O’Neil contributed to this report
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