District has a difficult choice ahead
For more than 80 years, the Nevada Irrigation District has worked hard to supply reliable, high-quality water to the homes, businesses, schools and farms found on the 289,000 acres of land within the district’s boundaries.
During this time, the district has often had to balance the needs of a wide variety of stakeholders as it has made the tough decisions necessary to continue serving a growing customer base.
We are again facing that situation today.
The Lower Cascade Canal, a structure built more than 120 years ago to transmit water, needs to be modernized. Due to the encroachment of houses along the canal and increasing federal water quality standards, an alignment study determined that it would be best to transmit water through a pipeline.
Several possible routes for a new water pipeline have been identified. Each option affects the community in different ways.
One route would rely on gravity to move water through the pipeline. This would ensure a reliable water source delivered efficiently at the least possible cost, and is considered most technologically feasible. However, this option would greatly impact a number of property owners along the pipeline’s route.Another route would require that pumps be installed to carry water through the pipeline. This option may result in fewer short-term effects to property owners along this route, but it could produce longer-term effects to customers in the form of increased energy use and water rates. Those potential effects to the environment have yet to be determined through the environmental impact assessment process.
Community members have questioned the need for this project. If we choose not to modernize the canal and maintain the status quo, then others, including several hundred landowners who are seeking water for fire suppression, will not have the necessary water resources to live in and enjoy our community. These individuals live within district boundaries and are entitled to a share of the water supplies available through the Upper Cascade Canal.
In addition, NID, as a water provider, would also not be fulfilling its statutory obligation to provide water, as governed by California’s Water Code.
These impacts are not taken lightly by the NID staff, board of directors and consultants. For this reason, we have worked hard over the past year to involved the community in all key decisions about the pipeline and the canal. We appreciate the efforts of everyone who has participated in our advisory committee, various subcommittees and have come to our public workshops and demonstrated their dedication to making our community a great place to live and work.
Ultimately, however, the Nevada Irrigation District will need to weigh all impacts and make a difficult decision about the pipeline’s path and the future of the Lower Cascade Canal. We anticipate choosing the option that provides the greatest good for the largest number of people, following an example set by the district’s earliest pioneers.
Jim Chatigny is general manager of Nevada Irrigation District.
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