Steve Pettit: An open letter to the new NID Board
I’ve watched for three years as NID doggedly pursues the Centennial Project despite the deluge of facts confirming Centennial is a completely bad deal.
Why does NID persist in the face of this evidence? Evidence such as:
5/26/2017 – John Drew’s op-ed confirms Bear River is “underfit” to support Centennial.
2/2/2018 – California Water Commission reports the Centennial Public Benefit Ratio = Zero.
5/1/2018 – Centennial is ineligible for Water Storage Investment Program Proposition 1 funding.
10/6/2018 – Pre-election SYRCL proposal to “pause” Centennial funding falls on deaf ears.
They also: grossly underestimated costs, existing recreation opportunities were ignored, questionable hydroelectric potential, concerns for indigenous peoples’ sacred sites was brushed aside, homeowners living under threat of Eminent Domain, no credible source of funding, disingenuous claim of fire protection, high impact recreation boasts … the list goes on.
The current Raw Water Master Plan update, now dubbed “The Plan for Water,” is a costly diversion intended to placate those of us asking hard questions that expose Centennial’s undeniable faults. There is a veneer of involvement at the public workshops but I doubt the public will have much influence on NID decisions. Common sense says the Centennial Project should be halted while NID, “with the public’s involvement” determines exactly what “The Plan for Water” for the next 50 years should be.
Why would a costly and controversial project of immense and wide-reaching scope not be questioned in any new Plan for Water?
My suggested Plan for Water for this new NID board to consider:
1. Stop all work on the Centennial Project right now. Not another penny! Do away with this impressive but impractical, hugely destructive and expensive project that provides no additional water.
2. Remove any and all threats to all remaining Centennial affected homeowners.
3. Focus NID on conservation for both agricultural and residential customers. Become a model of efficiency at every water point of use. Making every drop count must become normal procedure.
4. Modernize and/or repair the infrastructure from top to bottom. This is mundane work but a long-neglected task that will save lots of water.
5. Expand current water storage using natural methods like meadow restoration coupled with accelerated sediment removal and mercury mitigation at every existing reservoir.
6. Maximize the existing water storage capabilities and delivery systems to support the projected and expanding demand for the next 50 years — without a damn dam. No more dams on the Bear River!
7. Partner with Placer and Nevada counties to develop the Bear River Canyon recreation opportunities between Lake Rollins and Lake Combie with more and better river access points and trails and cultural site preservation utilizing the land already confiscated for Centennial.
With this new NID board leading the way, I hope for a more transparent and fiscally responsible NID preparing for our water future in a sustainable way while protecting our river canyons. I will be watching.
Steve Pettit is a North Auburn resident in NID District 4.
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