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Nevada Irrigation District - a wellspring of opportunity for Placer County

By: William Morebeck
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I’m proud to call Placer County home, a beautiful slice of the Golden State that has given me so very much to be thankful for – a happy and healthy home and family, and surroundings like nowhere else.

And yet, I realize that all of this is attributed to the reliable, dependable wellspring of water that makes it possible to thrive and survive. It’s easy in our day-to-day routines to take the water we use and depend on for granted, and even easier to forsake the “nuts and bolts” apparatus that makes this precious resource possible.

Water doesn’t just naturally show up in the pipes at our homes, the canals on our ranches or the drinking fountains at our elementary schools – it’s managed by local leaders and experts to ensure that supply is constant and safe. For Placer County and the Gold Country, the Nevada Irrigation District has been making that possible for our community since the turn of the century – from our earliest miners and families back then, to the scores of men, women and children here today.

It's an honor to serve as the most recent board member to the NID. However in my travels around our county and the region, I’m finding that there are still a good many who don’t realize what NID is and does, and the positive impact it makes for our communities.

I thought it might help to share a few poignant ways that the Nevada Irrigation District has been serving and supporting Placer County families and businesses.

 

A Reliable Water Supply – and Process – for Residents and Homes

The NID has approximately 27,500 customers, which includes raw water and treated water users. The district manages much of the region’s water collected from the mountain snow pack and stored in an extensive system of 10 reservoirs distributed to foothill homes, families and residents. When Gov. Jerry Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency in January 2014, he directed state officials and districts to make efforts to conserve and manage water usage in the most critically important and cautious manner – and to call upon the “customers” to do the same. During the drought, NID staff, partners and community members were able to keep the regular flow of water to those in need while preserving and conserving in a manner that didn’t compromise our public health or safety. NID has regularly upgraded and improved its long-standing infrastructure to keep the pipeline flowing and steady.

NID brings 25 percent of Placer County and all users a safe, reliable water supply 24 hours a day through the planning of new storage, enhancing existing reservoir storage, and collaborating with the city of Lincoln to build a water treatment plant near Big Ben Road. The board urges residents to  conserve – turn off sprinklers, take shorter showers, contact the city to get low-flowing toilets and faucets – but NID works around the clock to allow us a fluid supply at all times.

 

Environmental Protection and Conservation

The water collected and routed by NID plays a significant role in providing clean energy sources for our community, residents and businesses. NID is a leader among Northern California water agencies in the production of clean, hydroelectric energy, operating seven power plants that generate enough electricity to supply the equivalent of more than 60,000 homes. Water provided by NID has also insured significant resources for Placer County fire prevention services. Ongoing forestry will continue to address dead and dying trees on district lands as drought conditions and bark beetle infestation continues in Nevada and Placer Counties.

During 2016, the district has initiated field assessments of English Meadows, along the Middle Yuba River upstream of Jackson Meadows Reservoir.  The goal of this project is to restore the condition of the meadow, which will enhance the hydrology and late seasonal stream flows upstream of the reservoir. In recent years, NID and Placer County leaders worked with local residents and environmental advocates to develop the Auburn Ravine Fish Passage Project to allow fish migration at a flow level over and through the six-foot barrier at the end of the water measurement station. The district has now focused on the Hemphill diversion six miles upstream on the Auburn Ravine .This collaborative effort will bring a more natural condition to the ravine.

 

Recreational Opportunities

Thanks to NID, we continue to have significant recreational opportunities across Placer County and the foothills that have earned our region such renown as a destination for families and enthusiasts around the corner and around the world. NID provides waterways for swimming, kayaking, fishing and other local outdoor activities. Water from NID provides the important water supply for local campgrounds that include Long Ravine, Greenhorn, Orchard Springs and Peninsula Campgrounds and the mountain campgrounds of Bowman, Jackson Meadows, Canyon Creek, Sawmill and Faucherie Lakes.

 

Supports Local Farms and Ranches

The remarkable and diverse benefits that NID brings to Placer County and the Gold Country since 1929 are probably most visible through the benefits brought to residents through our local agriculture community. Local orchards, vineyards, vegetable farms and livestock producers benefit from a reliable, safe, sustainable water supply. Thanks to NID, farmers and ranchers in Placer County are able to plan and predict not just for the months and years ahead, but for decades and generations to come. Water supplied through NID is resulting in significant growth of produce, products and increased economic output for our county and continues to open the door to more agricultural jobs, activities and programs, including thriving ag education for our schools and youth, within our region.

 

It’s a joy and privilege for me to live and work in Placer County. I know that the lives of so many here in our region would not be what it is today without the safe, dependable wellspring of water that has been a source for our survival and success for generations to come. The Nevada Irrigation District – and its nearly 200 employees and scores of community partners – have made it possible for Placer County to earn acclaim as a center of magnificent hope and opportunity – from the Gold Rush to present day. As an NID board member serving our Placer community, I welcome feedback and ideas anytime at william@psyber.com or (530) 273-6185. Those wishing to learn more about all that NID has to offer can also visit the website at nidwater.com.

 

William Morebeck was appointed member of the Nevada Irrigation District Board of Directors (District IV) in July 2015 and serves as the small farms representative on the Placer County Agricultural Commission. A resident of Lincoln, he has been a local farmer and involved with various agricultural and community programs and organizations.