Time to act fast

By From page A4 | February 21, 2014

The governor and the leaders of the Assembly and state Senate announced drought plan legislation Wednesday afternoon. There aren’t bill numbers attached to it yet, but there is a figure: $687.4 million.

The breakdown that is key for El Dorado County is $549 million from “accelerated expenditure of voter-approved bonds, Proposition 84 and Proposition 1E, in the form of infrastructure grants for local and regional projects that are already planned or partially completed to increase local reliability, including capturing of storm water, expand use and distribution of recycled water, enhance the management and recharging of groundwater storage and strengthen water conservation.”

There are other specific allocations, but this one is key for the El Dorado Irrigation District, which can put several vital projects on the block in short order.

Project No. 1 to seek funding for is the Forebay Dam raising project. This nearly $17 million-$18 million project is being required by the state Division of Safety of Dams and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who have questioned the seismic safety of Forebay, built before the first power license was granted in 1922.

Forebay holds 400 acre-feet of water, but silt that has built up over the past 92 years has reduced that to 290 acre-feet. Raising the dam 10 feet was deemed less expensive than dredging it. Raising the dam would also include improving the dam’s safety and boost its capacity to 550 acre-feet.

Bringing that capacity up to 550 acre-feet changes the supply of water to Treatment Plant 1 in Camino from eight hours to six days. How close is this to being done? The engineering work by a specialized consultant was 90 percent done a year ago. That indicates it could be ready to be packaged up for soliciting bids.

Project No. 2 would be to pipe the Main Ditch that carries water from Forebay Reservoir through a dirt ditch to Treatment Plant 1. This $3.4 million project will save 300-400 acre-feet of water now lost by the ditch.

Project No. 3 would be for EID to build a recycled water tank to serve the planned Carson Creek “active adult” subdivision, then have the developer install recycled water pipes and meters to irrigate landscaping there.

Project No. 4 would be to build the $58 million winter recycled water storage so the district doesn’t have to supplement the recycled water with potable water in the summer. Also this would enable the district to sell recycled water to Folsom when it develops the land south of Highway 50.

EID’s engineering and management staff probably can bring some other projects forward that would enhance supply and save water, such as the Echo Lake conduit.

Georgetown Divide Public Utility District needs to figure out how to enhance its supply in a way that can take advantage of this drought funding.

Placerville needs to find its leakiest waterlines, come up with a construction estimate and give the city manager the same drought emergency powers as EID to waive formal bidding requirements.

The El Dorado County Water and Power Authority is working on a plan to gain 40,000 acre-feet of water from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Upper Mountain Project and sell the use of that water to Sacramento for recharging its well reservoirs. SMUD’s water is currently strictly for hydroelectric generation and to keep the rafting industry afloat. The county Water and Power Authority can use this drought funding to accelerate this plan, which will have that water in reserve for the county when it needs it in the future.

EID should get a head start on lining its projects up with the state.

Mountain Democrat

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