The River Fire
The River Fire, which scorched over 2,600 acres of the watershed of the Bear River in both Nevada and Placer counties, included approximately 320 acres of NID owned land and has impacted its water infrastructure downstream. The Bear River is a key component of the District’s water conveyance system as approximately 15,000 treated water customers (LOP and N. Auburn) and 3,000 raw water customers are downstream of this wildfire-impacted area.
Major concerns are hillside stability, trees in the river, dam safety, sedimentation from hillside erosion and possible landslides. The increased costs to operations and maintenance is a budgetary concern. Preliminary estimates are approximately $3.5 mil.
The district is working collaboratively with the Placer County Water Agency, PG&E and other agencies and jurisdictions to mitigate the damage. See the River Fire Update for further information. My heart goes out to all those who were directly effected by this tragedy and I can assure you that the District will do all that it can to prevent further damage.
Plan for Water
The focus of my state career was the practice of regional water management. I worked with diverse stakeholders from the public and private sectors where, oftentimes, their only commonality was that they all resided in the same watershed. We developed Integrated Regional Water Management Plans, with specific projects identified and subsequently implemented, to improve watershed health and promote the efficient use of our water resources.
Thus, I am thrilled to let you know that the general manager presented an outline for NIDs upcoming at the July 28, 2021 Board meeting. This process will revisit the watershed hydrology to consider the impacts of climate change, and will reevaluate our water supply and demand assumptions, I encourage you to review and provide any comments you think may improve the proposed timeline of the planning effort. The entire Plan for Water Process is anticipated to take 18 months.
The beginning of this plan has the board and constituents focusing on reviewing the existing systems and water rights. Starting in October 2021, we will hold separate public workshops to begin the planning process. This plan is the basis for the development of operational and capital improvement projects over the next 50 years so now is the time to get involved. See https://www.nidwater.com/plan-for-water.
We are all concerned about rate increases. We have just had over a decade of steady increases, and now a 7-8% increase per year for raw water customers over the next 5 years is being proposed. Even that won’t balance the budget.
As we all know, controlling rates is a matter of scaling back expenses and raising revenue. When the two management systems, the financial process (ERP), and the asset management (CMMS) are operational, the district will be in a far better position to control expenses. (See Projects page for details). The expected completion date is late 2021 or early 2022.
In addition, I have been advocating for increased investment in existing facilities, in particular, canal modernization to improve efficiency in raw water delivery, and for more rigorous cost/benefit analysis on all new projects.
On the revenue side, I am advocating to update all rate schedules and review existing municipal contracts to ensure everyone is paying their fair share. In addition, I am facilitating new connections for District taxpayers seeking NID service.
I am working to increase the transparency and accountability of NID. I successfully promoted holding board workshops as a part of the regular board meeting, not just so the board members hear the same depth of information about an item before voting on it, but so that staff would not have to present the same information up to three times before securing a decision on an item. An additional bonus for everyone is that the number of meetings has been reduced from six to two per month, making it easier for the public to track projects of concern to them. District board meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month at 9 am.
I’ve upgraded this website and will be activating my Facebook page. As the COVID restrictions are lessened, I’ll be reaching out to organizations in order to create an opportunity to interact with their membership. If you are a member of an organization, and would like me to come to speak, please let me know by filling out the contact form and putting that message in the Note section.
I’m also developing a newsletter which will come out quarterly on a regular basis and, occasionally, to send out announcements of important upcoming events. You can be put on that list by filling out the contact form as well.
The future of water in the Sierra is uncertain. More intense and warmer storms will expose the Bear and Yuba watersheds to increased erosion, threatening our water deliver infrastructure and filling reservoirs with sediment. I support the Districts’ work to protect our watersheds by restoring mountain meadows, increasing floodplain space along rivers and streams, evaluating opportunities for groundwater recharge, removing sediment from our reservoirs, and thinning the watershed forests for increased water supply and fire protection.
Examples of the work currently underway are the English Meadow Restoration project and the Scotts Flat and Rollins Lake Forest Improvement Project and the Sedimentation Review Project. Details are on the Projects Page.