EID report points to White Rock tap

By From page A1 | March 27, 2013

White Rock Powerhouse

THE WHITE ROCK POWERHOUSE is on the South Fork of the American River at an elevation of 993 feet. Democrat file photo by Mike Roberts

Tapping into the White Rock Penstock, where the Sacramento Municipal Utility District has reserved a connection for El Dorado County since a 1961 agreement, is viewed as the next major water source for the El Dorado Irrigation District.

Monday, on a 5-0 vote, the EID board adopted the Integrated Water Resources Master Plan 2013. The 251-page plan was created by HDR Engineering at a cost of $950,000.

The plan includes water demand forecasting, infrastructure requirements, water recycling strategies and cost estimates.

The top two options, both financially and for other reasons such as flexibility, are the White Rock Penstock and building a reservoir of 31,000 acre-feet on Alder Creek.

Both options provide gravity water. The White Rock Penstock water will need to be pumped up 300 feet to a new water treatment plant and then feed into the EID system by gravity.

Water available from White Rock is 30,000 acre-feet, 40,000 acre-feet after 2025. SMUD and the El Dorado Water and Power Authority, which includes EID, concluded a deal with SMUD during its relicensing that provides 15,000 acre-feet of drought storage in SMUD Upper American River Project.

UARP consists of 11 dams and reservoirs beginning on the Rubicon River in Rockbound Valley and ending in the White Rock Powerhouse. UARP has a gross reservoir capacity of 400,000 acre-feet of water. It is also called a “Stairway of Power.”  UARP generates 688 megawatts of power on 53 miles of river as it drops 1 mile in altitude. “In a typical year” SMUD says it generates 1.8 billion kilowatt-hours from the project built in the 1950s, receiving its federal power license in 1957.

The Alder Creek project would feed a 10-megawatt powerhouse and then return its water to the El Dorado Canal. Alder Creek reservoir would generate 11,250 acre-feet of new water supply that would be handled by Reservoir A Water Treatment Plan near Sly Park.

The likeliest treatment plant location for water for White Rock would be at Bray Reservoir near Missouri Flat Road. It then sends its water into the system at Reservoir 9 on the Diamond Springs Main.

Included in the report are new water transmission lines to serve Cameron Park and El Dorado Hills.

“It’s a very-very long-term plan,’ said EID General Manager Jim Abercrombie. “The plan is scalable,” meaning treatment capacity can be increased over the years, transmission lines can be added later. This plan and a wastewater treatment master plan to come later will feed into an update of the level of the hookup charges, which will go into a capital reserve fund “for expanded facilities.”

“This plan is in response to the county (general) plan. We have to adapt our plan to changes,” said Board President George Osborne.

“Eleven counties are in disaster drought status. It’s almost miraculous to have an opportunity to plan for reasonable growth,” said vineyardist Doug Liesz. “You’re really committing yourselves to a continuous planning process. What you have to do in year one is to ensure year 20. My compliments to you.”

“I echo what Doug said on the quality of the planning process,” said Cameron Park retiree Greg Prada.

“It’s important that the plan be flexible. Hope you’re not locked into a five-year plan,” said Kirk Bone of Parker Development.

The nice feature of the plan is it’s scalable and phase-able,” said Abercrombie.

“Don’t lose an opportunity to slow things down or speed things up,” said Director Alan Day.

Total present value cost of the two options is estimated at about $550 million, with slightly less than half of that being operations and maintenance expense. Alder Reservoir is estimated to cost $106 million.

The projects would be engineered over the over the next seven years, with expenses of $2 million in 2014 rising to $9 million in 2019 and $10 million in 2020. White Rock, the new water plant and a new transmission line likely will begin construction in 2025.

Michael Raffety

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