Yuba Water Agency’s board of directors today approved more than $1.25 million in grants and a low-interest loan for flood risk reduction, water infrastructure, water quality improvements, fish habitat and emergency water rescue equipment.
“As we all grapple with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on our economy – and now wildfires as well, now more than ever we must work to improve community resilience where we can,” said Board Chairman Randy Fletcher. “The board’s actions today advance critical work to reduce flood risk, improve water quality and infrastructure, habitat, and to support our first-responders here in Yuba County.”
$500,000 – Hallwood flood risk improvements
Further advancing Yuba Water’s longstanding mission to reduce flood risk along the lower Yuba River, the board approved a $500,000 grant for the Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority to strengthen the Yuba River North Training Wall, which reduces flood risk to the rural community of Hallwood. The work, expected to be complete in 2021, will bring a 100-year flood protection level to the site, meaning there will be less than a 1-in-100 chance in any given year that a storm will come along that is more powerful than the area is designed to handle. The level of protection is significant because it will prevent the area from being mapped into a Federal Emergency Management Agency flood zone, which would increase flood insurance costs and restrict building in the area.
$90,080 – Hallwood Side Channel and Floodplain Restoration project
The board also approved an additional $90,080 for the nearby Hallwood Side Channel and Floodplain Restoration project, which will be used to plant riparian habitat on the Yuba River. This will be the final step of the first phase of this multi-agency, multi-benefit project that creates approximately 89 acres of habitat for Chinook salmon, steelhead trout and other native fish. Yuba Water has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, South Yuba River Citizens League, cbec eco engineering, Cramer Fish Sciences, Teichert and Western Aggregates on this critical project to remove a total of 1.2 million cubic yards of sediment from a mid-channel training wall in the lower Yuba River, and develop the improved habitat features.
$140,000 – Ellis Lake improvements
The board authorized $140,000 for HDR, Inc. and the City of Marysville to develop a plan to improve and manage water quality and recreational fisheries at Ellis Lake. Yuba Water has been working with the city since January, gathering monthly samples to better understand seasonal changes in water quality. That data feeds into the development of this plan. While Yuba Water will support water quality monitoring and refinement of the plan through 2020, Marysville will oversee the long-term implementation of the plan and management of the lake and its facilities. Implementation of the plan could begin by the summer of 2021.
“Ellis Lake has long been a point of pride for the City of Marysville, providing beautiful views and recreational fishing opportunities for our residents and visitors,” said Marysville Public Works Director Craig Platt. “This latest grant brings us closer to improving conditions at the lake, restoring it for the benefit of the entire community.”
$500,000 – OPUD water and wastewater infrastructure expansion
The board approved a $250,000 loan and $250,000 grant to the Olivehurst Public Utility District to complete California Environmental Quality Act work related to a multi-million-dollar water and wastewater infrastructure expansion project planned in southern Yuba County. Once the design phase is complete, the project will be “shovel ready,” hopefully making it eligible to compete for state and federal stimulus funds that may be offered in the future to boost the region’s economy.
$16,100 - Arboga residential water/septic system study
An additional $16,100 will pay for a feasibility study to determine the cost and financing options for connecting residential water and septic systems in Arboga to OPUD’s systems. A future connection could help protect groundwater quality by reducing the likelihood of septic system failure in a community with aging infrastructure and a high water table.
$10,000 – Emergency rescue equipment
The board also approved a Bill Shaw Rescue Equipment and Training Grant for up to $10,000 to the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office to purchase specialized rescue equipment, including underwater search and rescue gear and rescue climbing rappelling equipment. Named after Yuba Water employee Bill Shaw, these grants cover the one-time costs of up to $10,000 per applicant annually to support the purchase of rescue equipment or specialized personnel training by first responders in Yuba County.
Letter of support for Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020
Board members today also expressed their support for Senate Bill 4431: The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020, which will protect Yuba County’s communities by reducing wildfire risk in federal forests, harnessing public-private partnerships to address dead and dying trees, improving best practices for wildfire management and creating more resilient communities and energy grids. The board authorized the chairman to sign a letter of support, which will be sent to the office of Senator Diane Feinstein, one of the bill’s authors.
“The devastating fires in our region emphasize the urgency of acting now to protect our communities and improve forest management,” said Chairman Fletcher, who also represents the rural communities of Smartsville, Browns Valley, Challenge and others recently evacuated due to the North Complex fire. “This bill is an important move toward more resilient forests and communities for Yuba County and the entire western U.S.”