Key state officials appeared in Placerville on April 4 to give area water purveyors the keys to the drought grant kingdom.
The event was sponsored by the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association and took place in the large downstairs meeting room of the El Dorado Irrigation District headquarters on Mosquito Road.
After the morning meeting broke up, two of EID’s top engineers in attendance expressed confidence about receiving drought funding for the district’s No. 1 drought grant application — piping the Main Ditch.
The 3-mile-long Main Ditch brings water from Forebay reservoir in Pollock Pines to Reservoir 1 Water Treatment Plant in Camino.
In addition to saving 1,000-1,300 acre feet of water lost to evaporation and sinking into the soil, piping the Main ditch will improve the purity of the water delivered to the treatment plant and reduce treatment costs.
“How you might leverage in other activities, such as public health…” said Bill Croyle of the Governor’s Drought Task Force, in describing an additional factor in allocating drought project funding.
EID’s Main Ditch deposits 300,000 pounds of dirt and trash at the water treatment plant in addition to collecting coliform bacteria from 28 uphill septic systems along the way.
Saving that 1,300 acre-feet of water could also result in $300,000 more revenue from EID’s hydroelectric powerhouse, also served by Forebay reservoir.
Regional Drought Solicitations Manager Tracie Billington promised that the state would not be “cherry-picking” projects in deciding what projects to fund in the first round with $200 million. The first round would be “expedited drought projects,” Billington said.
After the 2014 solicitation, the final round of Proposition 84 funds totaling $250 million would be allocated in 2015.
A state draft document on drought grant funding identifies $40.5 million available for the Sacramento River funding area, which includes El Dorado County west of Echo Summit. Funding applications are made to one of four regional offices of the state Department of Water Resources. For this area that is the North Central office in Sacramento. The chief of the Water Supply Evaluations Section of that office is Hon Lin, a civil engineer and Ph.D.
Lin told the group the latest update to the California Water Plan would be released in June. She also added that promoting regional cooperation and working together to solve regional problems were key goals of her office and the state.
The application criteria were released this month in draft form and remain open to comment. By the end of June, the application details will be finalized and the deadline to have grant applications submitted will be “early July,” Billington said. Grants will be awarded by mid-August through early September, she added.
State documents call for a 25 percent match from local agencies receiving the grants.
For immediate drought relief, particularly from those relying on wells that have gone dry, or small water companies serving a group of houses from a well that is drying up, such as those that exist in Calaveras County, Eric Lamoureux, regional administrator of the Office of Emergency Services for the Governor’s Office, urged agencies to call their local Office of Emergency Services.
Lamoureux, a Placerville resident, said he has a weekly teleconference with local OES officials and he can bring state resources to bear on identified local water emergencies.
In addition to the Main Ditch, EID Engineering Manager Brian Muller also noted two small localized water service improvements — Outingdale and Strawberry — may qualify for drought funding.
The grant funding briefing Friday drew water purveyors from throughout the region served by the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association. The area encompassed by Mountain Counties covers 15,700 square miles and is home to more than 40 percent of the state’s developed water. EID Director Bill George is a member of the board of directors for Mountain Counties Water Resources Association.
Moderator for the event was John Kingsbury, executive director of Mountain Counties Water Resources Association.