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Posted on: June 1, 2021

Yuba Water pledges $6.5 million to community projects in Yuba County

Yuba Water grants and loans approved June 1

Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors today approved $6.5 million for a range of projects to improve public safety and enhance the quality of life for Yuba County residents.

This is the first group of grants approved by Yuba Water since adoption of its new Community Impact Grant and Loan Program last October. The program created a formal process for the fair and effective distribution of agency funds to Yuba County efforts that align with six strategic program areas. These areas are flood risk reduction, water supply and water management, watershed resilience, water conservation, water education and the agency’s Bill Shaw Rescue Equipment and Training Grant Program.

“The grants approved by the board today reinforce our vision of enhancing the quality of life for the people of Yuba County,” said Willie Whittlesey, Yuba Water’s general manager. “These investments are truly going to impact people’s lives and improve public safety and water security for our communities.”

The Yuba Water Agency Board of Directors has committed to spending up to $10 million per year on these types of community impact grants, and this new program helps the board prioritize how to best invest those funds. The majority of grants go to projects that reduce flood risk and protect Yuba County’s water supply, the two primary missions of the agency.

Reducing flood risk for people and property – $4,542,000

Marysville Levee District

Yuba Water’s board approved a more than $3.4 million grant to the Marysville Levee District to complete work related to the Marysville Ring Levee project, a critical effort to strengthen the 7.5-mile-long levee surrounding and protecting Marysville.

Yuba Water’s grant will leverage nearly $8 million in additional funds from the California Central Valley Flood Protection Board to complete the project. Once finished, the levee system will exceed the state’s requirement for urban areas to have levees that can withstand a 200-year storm, meaning there is a 1-in-200 chance of flooding in any given year, making Marysville one of the best-protected cities in California’s Central Valley.

Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority

Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority’s North Training Wall project, which is located north of the Yuba River near the community of Hallwood, is intended to increase local flood protection to 100-year requirements. A $1.1 million grant to TRLIA will allow them to complete the design and engineering of the project, increasing their competitiveness for additional grant funds from the state or federal government.

Reclamation District 10

A $12,000 grant to Reclamation District 10 will support the de-authorization of a specific section of levee to reduce the district’s liability north of Marysville, along the Feather River. The district does not recognize the privately-owned and unmaintained levee as a threat since the levee’s failure would not result in flooding.

Ensuring a reliable water supply and sustainable water management – $280,000

Linda County Water District

Using a $280,000 grant from Yuba Water, Linda County Water District will support the installation of a new half-mile water pipeline along Feather River Boulevard that connects to existing district infrastructure supporting water supply reliability for the community of Linda. The new pipeline will create a more reliable water delivery system for fire protection and enable the development of a planned low-income housing project in the area.

Building watershed resilience to reduce catastrophic wildfire risk – $1,517,315

Camptonville Community Partnership

Yuba Water approved a nearly $1.4 million loan to the Camptonville Community Partnership to cover initial costs to connect a proposed biomass plant to Pacific Gas and Electric facilities. This cash flow loan will allow the partnership to close the financing for the project in 2021. This timeline is important because it will enable the partnership to take advantage of a $7 million federal tax credit program before it expires this year and leverage more than $26 million in existing grants and loans to help the biomass plant achieve commercial operation. Once complete, the facility will create a market for forest biomass, using it to generate clean electricity and provide power and woody materials for co-located businesses.

Yuba Watershed Protection and Firesafe Council

A $75,000 grant to the Firesafe Council will help staff complete environmental planning associated with the council’s Yuba Roadside Fuel Treatment Project, which aims to reduce wildfire risk for Yuba County’s eastern foothill communities and support the area’s five rural fire districts. This planning grant from Yuba Water is expected to help leverage future funding from Cal Fire and others to begin project implementation.

Loma Rica and Browns Valley Community Services District

A $50,000 grant from Yuba Water will cover the installation of a new 30,000-gallon water storage tank at the Loma Rica Fire Station, which serves Loma Rica, Browns Valley and the surrounding area. Independent surveys recognized additional water storage as the single, most-needed improvement to meet fire suppression goals in the area.

Promoting water conservation and well-being of local residents – $86,210

Yuba County Office of Education

An $86,210 grant to the Yuba County Office of Education will support the installation of touchless water bottle filling stations at all of Yuba County’s public schools. Yuba Water’s grant leverages $68,735 in funds the Regional Waste Management Authority received from a Cal Recycles grant and contributions from Pace Supply to ensure nearly 14,000 students will have reliable access to clean water, while also promoting water conservation. This highly collaborative project includes significant support from all five Yuba County school districts, both in writing the grant applications and in the installation, which is expected to take place this summer. 

Expanding water education opportunities – $52,170

South Yuba River Citizens League

A grant to the South Yuba River Citizens League will support the organization’s salmon expedition river raft trips. Offered each fall, these trips provide up to 700 Yuba County fourth-grade students the opportunity to learn about the Yuba River and see threatened salmon spawn in their natural habitat. Through curriculum designed to meet Next Generation Science Standards and California Social Studies Standards, students learn about the Yuba River watershed and ecosystem, water conservation, historical mining impacts and local salmon habitat restoration efforts, while rafting down a mild stretch of the lower Yuba River below the Parks Bar Bridge.

Bill Shaw Rescue Equipment and Training Grant Program – $40,000

Marysville Fire Department

A $10,000 grant was awarded to the department to purchase new swift-water rescue equipment needed for the department’s Yuba County Water Rescue Task Force.

Marysville Police Department

Yuba Water granted the department $10,000 to purchase a second all-terrain vehicle and equipment to patrol and respond to incidents in hard-to-reach areas including near the river’s edge along the lower Yuba River.

City of Wheatland Fire Authority

A $10,000 grant from Yuba Water will be used to purchase a first-responder aerial survey drone for swift-water search and rescue and for levee inspections during highwater events.

Yuba County Sheriff’s Posse

A $10,000 grant will be used to purchase equipment to improve search, rescue and recovery assignments in coordination with the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office and the State Office of Emergency Services.

Yuba Water launched its Bill Shaw grants in 2018 based on a suggestion from an employee who was severely injured and wanted to help those who had helped him. Bill Shaw grants are exclusively for first-responder agencies in Yuba County and cover one-time costs of up to $10,000 per applicant, per fiscal year, associated with the purchase of a piece of rescue equipment or specialized personnel training.

Yuba Water has granted nearly $17 million for community impact projects since 2017, including more than $480,000 in Bill Shaw grants. The grants and loan approved today were previously reviewed and recommended by agency staff and the board’s Project Operations and Development Committee.

Eligible grantees must be a local government agency, tax-exempt non-profit or Native American tribe within Yuba County. Read the agency’s full program policy here. Learn more about Yuba Water’s Community Impact Grant and Loan Program at yubawater.org.

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