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NID Board Sees No Need for Garden Bar Project

Directors of the Nevada Irrigation District on Wednesday (Oct. 12) offered little enthusiasm for a new reservoir on the Bear River that is being studied by the downstream South Sutter Water District. 

Board President, Nancy Weber says NID board members are open to helping South Sutter find more water for its agricultural water users but that building a large and expensive Garden Bar reservoir is not the way to do it.

“It’s very expensive and alarming because it would mean water that is from this region going to Southern California for the very first time.”

South Sutter Water District began the Garden Bar Reservoir studies with financial assistance from five other water agencies interested in additional water supplies, including two from Northern California and San Bernardino Valley, Palmdale and Castaic Lake Water Agencies in southern California. Castaic Lake has since dropped out.

South Sutter officials say a new reservoir would take 10 years to develop at a projected cost of $415 million to $675 million, depending on size. Members of the NID board all expressed reservations about the need for such a project.

“I think the best news that came out of yesterday’s meeting is that we may be able to find an alternative way to give them some water. Not give, but sell water. We are certainly going to ask a reasonable price for it, but it would be cheaper than building the garden bar and much less environmental damage.”

South Sutter Water District is a small district that supplies a 36,000-acre area in Sutter and Placer counties. Rice farming accounts for about 82 percent of the water it supplies. The district owns and operates the 104,000 acre-foot Camp Far West Reservoir. SSWD currently buys 10,000 to 15,000 acre-feet of water from NID each year but the water is sold on a surplus basis and not guaranteed.

NID Board President Nancy Weber referred the issue to the board’s Water and Hydroelectric Operations Committee for a recommendation on whether the district should support, oppose or remain neutral on the project. Committee review was scheduled for Nov. 8 and the matter will return to the full board on Dec. 14.

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