Steven Pettit: Boondoggle |

Steven Pettit: Boondoggle

Other Voices
Steven Pettit

In May 2017, John Drew told us, “The truth about the Centennial Reservoir and the Bear River.”

That truth, it turns out … the Bear River is a seasonally dry “ephemeral stream” or in NID doublespeak it’s “underfit” — simply not enough water to reliably support users at current use rates and fill Centennial. Confirming Centennial is a boondoggle because water is not there to support it.

John further states “The Bear River … exists today because of the NID and PG&E water storage and conveyance systems” — confirming NID controls the flow of the Bear River and this “ephemeral stream” is already artificially made to flow.

In January 2018, Nick Wilcox again pitches the Centennial boondoggle. He says we should wait for NID’s complete analysis before any rash conclusions. However, NID hasn’t waited for complete analysis before acquiring land for this billion dollar boondoggle. NID has effectively locked 120 landholders and 24 homeowners into a “no way out but sell to NID at deflated prices” situation. Tell those people to wait for NID analysis before rash decisions. We who oppose this outrageous project read and do research and examine drawings and analyze documents and make expertly informed decisions about this project. Our consensus is that the Centennial Project is a very, very bad deal and a huge waste of taxpayer dollars!

NID is treating the Centennial Project as if it were a “done deal.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

On May 10, John Drew returns saying it’s “the water rights” in a thinly veiled and circuitous diatribe about how much NID cares about water safety and how the Raw Water Master Plan “update” will solve all water issues for the next 50 years, if only we would listen to those wise and prudent men at NID and build the Centennial Dam.

NID is treating the Centennial Project as if it were a “done deal.” Nothing could be further from the truth. There are serious questions about limited Bear River water, actual project cost, unexplored alternatives, impact to the indigenous community, impact to the environment, to name a few, that have not been addressed. Number 1 in my mind — how can the Centennial Project not be part of the Raw Water Master Plan update?

John’s tone also changed in this Comment. He spoke of “others from outside our community” and “the small number of folks who are not supportive of our current direction, most of which do not live in the district and do not pay taxes.” John, how could you know this? This sort of divisive and language added nothing to the discussion and does not belong at any level of public discourse.

Further, he states “a new reservoir will be immediately recognized as the most dramatic and beautiful reservoir on the western slopes …” ignoring the bludgeoning of Bear River Canyon as sacrifice. I call boondoggle!

Many of those folks, who live here in the community and in NID districts and use NID water and pay taxes, are questioning NID about why they are so focused on this new shiny thing (Centennial) to the neglect of the system John describes as an “absolutely incredible water system” and “very successful system.” Does John really think NIDs 1850s vintage water delivery system deserves those accolades?

What about modernizing the current 1850s era NID water delivery system with a spectrum of initiatives to better utilize the water given by the Bear River and modernize infrastructure already in place? Continue the hard, expensive sediment removal (increasing storage) and mercury mitigation, enclosing canals, evaporation reduction, pushing water conservation at every delivery and use point, controllable water delivery and drip irrigation to name a few.

My NID water is delivered through a rusty, crusty 1-inch orifice deteriorated over 14 years of operation. Many of NIDs 25,000 agricultural customers have this 1850s delivery hardware. This can’t be the “absolutely incredible water system” John Drew refers to, can it? The taxpayers’ $1 billion would be better invested in conservation, modernization and infrastructure improvements, which would pay continuous dividends for more than seven generations if done with foresight. Money better spent.

Preserving natural spaces and cultural areas for future generations to witness and enjoy is all our responsibility.

John Drew appallingly invokes the law of the Iroquois to justify trampling on the rights of our local indigenous tribes.

John Drew leads the NID Board’s relentless drive to build the Centennial Dam/Reservoir and destroy the last precious 8 miles of the pristine Bear River Canyon. Quash Centennial!

Get informed at, go to see the river and get involved and vote Laura Peters, Bruce Herring and Ricki Heck to the NID Board.

Steven Pettit lives in Auburn.

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