Placer County Water Outlook Improved
AUBURN -- Wet weather in February and early March hasn't ended the drought but it has given the Placer County Water Agency more time to determine if water delivery restrictions will be needed this year.
Meeting Thursday (Mar. 6), the PCWA Board of Directors decided to postpone until early April the adoption of new rules that would require water use cutbacks for customers using PCWA domestic and agricultural water. Directors said they would assess water availability following results of the April 1 snow surveys.
Directors approved a measure guaranteeing up to 5,000 acre-feet of water to large agricultural water users in Zone 5 west of Lincoln. The water comes with a price; it must be pumped from the American River and includes additional charges to cover pumping costs. The one-year rate is $106.85 per acre-foot, the Agency's cost to deliver water, which is more than four times what the farmers normally pay.
The board's water supply deliberations followed several staff reports on the water agency's dry year water supply planning and management.
Drought project manager Tony Firenzi said above average precipitation in February has improved water availability significantly after very dry conditions prevailed through most of the early winter. He said normal precipitation patterns are predicted over the next few months and should improve the outlook.
Although the water outlook has improved, the agency is still facing reduced supplies as a result of record dry conditions earlier in the water year, he cautioned.
The Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which supplies PCWA with water that flows down the Interstate 80 corridor to most customers, is now reporting that PCWA can expect 58 percent of its normal water delivery amounts, up from 39 percent earlier this year.
To make up for the shortfall, PCWA is planning to pump its maximum 35,500 acre-feet of water from the American River near Auburn and to activate two wells in the Rocklin area that can supplement supplies at the lower elevations.
In other business, directors:
- heard a report from Director of Technical Services Brent Smith, who announced that the water agency and the Nevada Irrigation District have successfully obtained a $997,500 grant from the state Department of Water Resources. The agencies will use the funding to construct two system interties in the North Auburn area, conduct canal lining projects and add water flow measurement equipment.
- welcomed Placer County Treasurer-Tax Collector Jenine Windeshausen who provided an update on the county's mPOWER Placer program, which assists homeowners with financing of water and energy efficiency projects. The four-year-old program has received 344 applications and has worked with 87 local contractors, she said. For information, see mPOWERPLACER.org.
The next regular meeting of the PCWA Board of Directors will be held at 2 p.m. on Mar. 20 at the PCWA Business Center, 144 Ferguson Road, in Auburn. PCWA board meetings are open to the public.
Information on PCWA board meetings may be obtained through the Clerk to the Board at (530) 823-4850 or (800) 464-0030. The PCWA website, www.pcwa.net features a Drought Update link with many water saving tips and techniques.
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