Forebay: Surplus land sold for $1

By From page A1 | May 02, 2014

El Dorado Irrigation District is selling 14 acres of recreation area at Forebay to El Dorado County government for $1.

EID considers that a bargain.

The property consists of a Little League field, horseshoe pits, a meeting hall, parking and bathrooms.

An appraiser valued the land at $158,000 and considered the property improvements a community asset and of no value to a “hypothetical prudent investor.” EID subtracted from this $158,000 the estimated cost of $117,500 for making improvements to meet the requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act. That left $40,500 to cover ADA costs for the interior of the meeting hall.

EID didn’t expect to make any of these ADA improvements until 2017, leaving it open to potential legal liability. Hence, the board agreed in closed session that selling “as is” the 14 acres of recreation property for $1 was a good deal.

District General Counsel Tom Cumpston presented a detailed public summary of these issues at the April 12 board meeting and the board approved the sale as part of the consent calendar approval April 28.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the purchase April 8. There is now a 90-day due-diligence period. EID has already conducted tests on the property and commissioned a preliminary title report.

“If the county provides written confirmation of its satisfaction by the end of the due diligence period, the transaction will proceed to closing,” Cumpston wrote in his report to the board.

On March 24, the board approved the environmental impact report of Forebay Dam modification project, which it had previewed at its March 10 meeting.

Declared seismically unsafe by the state, Forebay Dam has been studied by a consulting engineer since 2004 and is now close to being approved for construction. The project is estimated at $18 million and is currently scheduled for construction in 2015-2016.

Forebay Dam, built in 1922 by Western States Electric Co., holds 400 acre-feet of water, but siltation has reduced that to 290 acre-feet. GEI Consultants determined that it would be less expensive to raise the dam 10 feet than to dredge the silt out of the reservoir. The dam raise will increase the reservoir capacity to 550 acre-feet of water. That would change the water supply for Treatment Plant 1 in Camino from eight hours to six days. It would also increase water for power generation enough to increase revenue by $300,000 annually, according to EID’s dam engineer Jake Eymann.

Forebay sends 15,080 acre-feet of water through the three-mile-long Main Ditch to Treatment Plant 1. It also sends the rest of the water brought in from the El Dorado Canal through 14,443 feet of penstock to the 21-megawatt Akin Powerhouse that generates an average of $8 million a year under contract with PG&E.

Replacing the dirt ditch with pipe is being planned as a project expected to get drought funding from the state. It is estimated to cost $3.4 million, but will save 1,000-1,300 acre-feet now lost in the ditch to seepage and evaporation and also is predicted to add $300,000 of annual income from power generation resulting from the water saved. The savings in the cost of treating the water at Treatment Plant 1 after piping eliminates trash and coliform picked up from neighboring septic systems has not been calculated.

The dam strengthening and raising will rely on a 70-acre area below the dam that has more than enough dirt to accomplish the task.

Michael Raffety

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