Submitted to KNCO:
GRASS VALLEY – In a community forum on Thursday (May 21), leaders of the Nevada Irrigation District outlined plans to ensure adequate supplies of water to district customers as the region endures a fourth year of drought.
More than 100 people attended the NID Community Drought Briefing at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building. NID staff provided overviews of NID’s background and role in the community, current water supply, state drought regulations and the need for water conservation.
Manager of Water Operations Chip Close said regulations imposed May 5 by the State Water Board require NID and its customers to reduce residential water use by 36 percent from 2013 baseline levels. District customers saved 16.4 percent last year.
Close said the district has been operating its water systems very conservatively and that water storage is near average for this time of year. However, a record low snowpack is producing negligible runoff to replenish reservoirs as they are drawn down this summer.
Through conservation and purchases of additional water supplies from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, NID is aiming to preserve a minimum 110,000 acre-feet of water storage at the end of this year. The district carries over 140,000 acre-feet in the average year.
General Manager Rem Scherzinger said costs to purchase additional water, combined with significant revenue losses to the district from reduced water sales, would have serious financial impacts on the district. As a result, district officials are considering a conservation water rate that could be implemented later this year.
The briefing also included a discussion by NID legal counsel Dustin Cooper, who provided an overview of NID’s water rights and how they are being impacted by the state’s drought regulations.
NID Water Efficiency Coordinator Aurora Tipton spoke of water conservation options and methods available to customers and said the district is preparing additional materials to help customers measure their levels of conservation.
In a question and answer session following the hour-long presentation, Scherzinger was asked to compare this year to the near-record drought of 1977 that brought the need for 50 percent use reductions. “We’ve been working this very carefully and from all angles over the past four years,” he said. “We have more water in storage, our water systems are more efficient and we know more about water conservation. We are much better prepared than we were in 1977.”
A resolution adopting a water conservation plan for the coming year is expected to be considered at Wednesday’s (May 27) meeting of the NID Board of Directors.
The NID website contains valuable tips and links on efficient water use. See the Conservation tab at www.nidwater.com.
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