Dianna Suarez: Biased Nevada Irrigation District submittal
July 16, 2018
In response to "Summertime ups and downs in NID reservoir management," published on July 6 with no apparent author, but simply the note, "Submitted to The Union; and Source: Nevada Irrigation District," the question remains. Who wrote it?
This covertly biased Nevada Irrigation District submittal to The Union newspaper contains some good information and leaves out other information. It is obviously slanted toward reservoirs because that is what NID does. What is not mentioned is that a whole lot of people kayak, raft, swim and fish in our local rivers. What is NID doing to keep the rivers at "healthy levels?"
At the end of June, the district's storage is 93 percent of capacity and 113 percent of normal with average precipitation. An important point here is the difference between precipitation and snowfall. Precipitation is all the water that falls in a watershed regardless of whether it falls as rain or snow. Total precipitation was within 1 inch of average at Bowman Reservoir, 5,554 feet elevation. It sounds like we are doing fine again this year. In fact, NID declares surplus water every year and sells it "out of district" to the cities of Grass Valley, Nevada City, and parts unknown.
Then NID talks about snowpack only being 66 percent of average and 75 percent runoff; making it sound like we are facing a scarcity of water. This is not the fact. Remember precipitation is normal and storage 113 percent. So the impression that we are deficit is false. This is likewise the supply side argument that NID has been making for its billion-dollar dam on our Bear River. And it is likewise false. There is no looming scarcity of water based on more precipitation falling as rain instead of snow. The precipitation is still average.
There is no looming scarcity of water based on more precipitation falling as rain instead of snow. The precipitation is still average.
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The water is cycling through the NID system of reservoirs differently than in the past because the same amount of water is falling into the system but the timing is different.
"It's a complicated process to make sure there's the ideal balance of water in the reservoirs," said Sue Sindt, NID's water resources superintendent. "It requires daily monitoring of the system, knowledge of the system's capabilities, customer demand patterns and utilization of hydrographic and customer data. Reservoir releases are monitored daily along with flows in the canals to ensure that we are being responsive to customer demand, but not being wasteful."
It sure sounds like NID should be able to compensate for this change in timing without costing the Nevada County taxpayers an extra billion dollars; especially with the opportunity to store winter runoff in the North American Sub basin below the southwestern portion of the NID District near Lincoln. This has become the water bank for the West Placer Groundwater Sustainability Agency of which NID is a member. This opportunity is largely missed by the NID board. They keep claiming that there is no aquifer in the district. Well, parts of Lincoln are within the Nevada Irrigation District and they can certainly benefit from stored groundwater available to NID customers.
"Overall, nearly every reservoir filled this year," Sindt said. "With less than average runoff, however, the reservoirs did not stay full very long and the withdrawal from storage started a little sooner than an average year."
"This will affect the amount of storage we will end the season with and have to carry into next year," she added. "At this point, it is anticipated that the end of season storage will be near average."
Dianna Suarez lives in Colfax.