Bruce Herring: Why, I’m running for the NID board |

Bruce Herring: Why, I’m running for the NID board

Hello. I’m Bruce Herring. I’m a candidate for the Nevada Irrigation District Board of Directors in Division 2. Here’s why:

First, a little background. With few exceptions, public water agencies remain tied to a 20th century model. For supply concerns this model still turns first to the expansion of surface water storage and delivery; meaning dams and the pipes, tunnels, or canals that convey water elsewhere.

The model is averse to public disclosure of problems related to water supply, water quality, or infrastructure failures that may cause alarm in the community. This leads to a culture of secrecy. The model harbors a proprietary attitude toward its own internal data and is thus reluctant or unable to effectively collaborate with potential partners.

But facts on the ground and in the atmosphere have changed dramatically and will continue to change throughout the century. Water managers face new challenges with ever-increasing populations, uncertain and variable precipitation patterns, and expanded regulations.

… the next version of the NID board needs to be open and honest … People want to know and people want to be part of the solution.

NID and other like water agencies should not be blamed for holding onto the old model. It made sense based on our understanding of the conditions and needs of the time. But it is no longer capable of serving the urgent need to address a rapidly changing water world. Simply put the model needs to evolve to meet current trends and the NID board needs to evolve with it.

I commend the board for acknowledging the need to address what is becoming more and more apparent. A general decline in snow accumulation levels, greater variability from year to year, and warmer temperatures. Should the Centennial Reservoir be on the table as a possible solution? Absolutely. But with a variety of common sense steps now available a new dam should move from solution number one towards somewhere near the bottom of the list.

What follows is an introduction to what I call the Five Pillars of the Working Man’s Blueprint for Water Management in the 21st Century: Data, Market, Conservation, Groundwater, and Community. The Blueprint as a whole, and each pillar in turn will consist of a short, medium, and long term strategy. As analysis of each step proceeds it will remain crucial to adapt to changing conditions as necessary.

By data I mean more than scientific data regarding precipitation levels and mix, or evolving methods and analysis for keeping water in the upper watershed longer. We need hard numbers to know how much water is lost thru old and leaky infrastructure and how much storage capacity is lost from sediment accumulation in our reservoirs.

Market. There could be a more efficient way to sell raw water rather than the quaint but wasteful Miner’s Inch. As NID presently loses money on water sales, clients should be charged a fair price for what they actually use.

State mandated conservation is coming. Why not address the issue pro-actively before that day arrives? The possibilities are limitless.

Groundwater overdraft is a growing problem in our state. The only viable aquifer in the NID service area is in West Placer County (North American Sub-Basin). Working with the city of Lincoln and SSWD (South Sutter Water District) it may be possible to use Bear River water to help replenish this important resource.

Community. Instead of being so secretive about the purpose of the dam, integration with the state system, denied access at Scotts Flat, or the failure of the South Yuba Canal, the next version of the NID board needs to be open and honest about all such matters. People want to know and people want to be part of the solution.

NID’s association with regional water agencies in CABY (Cosumnes, American, Bear, Yuba), ongoing efforts to enhance water retention in English Meadow, and the ground-breaking sediment and mercury removal project on Combie are all good starts.

But we can do so much more. We can reach out and work more closely with our diverse ag community, the outdoor recreation folks, and a variety of local groups. We should listen to and learn from our disenfranchised neighbors on the Placer County side and the Nevada City Rancheria. We all want the same thing — a reliable model to meet our water needs and address uncertainty and variability for the rest of the century.

Let’s move beyond the 20th century model into a new more all encompassing vision. Let’s adopt the Workingman’s Blueprint. This is why I am standing for election to the NID board. Stay tuned for more details.

Bruce Herring lives in Grass Valley.

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