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Posted on: November 2, 2021

Yuba Water commits more than $1.4 million to water education, water management and more

A photo of a sign on an island in a pond that says "Ellis Lake".

Today, Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors committed more than $1.4 million in grants and loans to support flood risk reduction, water supply, watershed resilience, water education, water conservation and public safety in Yuba County.

“The board’s actions today further solidify the role of Yuba Water in supporting a wide range of projects that have a direct, tangible impact on our communities, our children and the future of Yuba County,” said board chairman Andy Vasquez.

The board will award $501,655 to eight local agencies as part of Yuba Water’s Community Impact Grant and Loan Program. The remaining funds will be dispersed in future fiscal years. The board also approved a separate $350,000, 10-year loan to the City of Wheatland for a proposed community aquatic center for south Yuba County, which will only be executed if the city receives grant funding from the state.

A summary of each grant and loan is below.

WATER EDUCATION

Yuba College
A $700,000 grant to Yuba College will provide funding for the next five years to develop and implement a Watershed Management program specific to the Yuba River watershed that could facilitate the education and training needed for workforce development in the greater Sacramento region related to watershed resilience and economic development.

The grant includes hiring a full-time, non-tenure-track faculty member to work on program development. Depending on input from local and regional industry and organizational partners, the curriculum will support new associate degrees, certificates and internships in the Yuba River watershed, focused on natural resources and watershed management, watershed health and ecological restoration.

“This partnership will provide education and training that meets the needs of our local region,” said Yuba College STEM & Social Science Division Dean Michael Bagley. “More importantly, this is an opportunity to build an employable workforce in watershed management and strengthen Yuba County for generations.”

FLOOD RISK REDUCTION

Reclamation District 2103
The board awarded $495,000 to Reclamation District 2103, which manages rural and urban levees and includes the City of Wheatland.

The funding will help RD 2103 complete some of the levee improvements needed to secure certification of a 100-year level of flood protection from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Grasshopper Slough Levee in Wheatland, which will lower flood insurance rates for residents in the area. A 100-year flood protection means there is less than a 1-in-100 chance in any given year that a storm will come along that is more powerful than the infrastructure is designed to handle.

WATER SUPPLY AND MANAGEMENT

The City of Marysville
The City of Marysville was awarded $142,300 to improve the water quality in Ellis Lake. The funds will be used for algae treatments, carp removal and water quality sampling following initial treatments to the lake. The treatments are part of a long-term effort between the city and Yuba Water to restore the lake’s water quality.

The city will also use an additional $12,255 grant from the agency to apply for a $3 million grant from California’s Proposition 68 Regional Recreational and Tourism program to replace, reroute and widen the three-foot-wide sidewalk surrounding Ellis Lake. The proposed project will also include improvements such as benches, exercise equipment, playground equipment and an event stage.

“Ellis Lake is a big part of our city,” said Marysville City Manager Jim Schaad. “Our staff are committed to continuing to work with Yuba Water on a long-term, permanent solution to manage and improve the water quality of the lake for our residents to enjoy.”

North Yuba Water District
A $104,000 grant from the agency will support a water conservation quantification and expanded water use feasibility study for the North Yuba Water District. The study will evaluate the district’s facilities, including a review of conservation measures and potential economic growth opportunities within its service area based on possible water conservation measures. The study will also support the district’s Forbestown Ditch Pipeline Replacement Project, which will improve water conveyance in the area and increase efficiency by reducing raw water loss and minimizing water contamination.

WATERSHED RESILIENCE

Yuba County Resource Conservation District
An $8,600 grant to the newly-reinstated Yuba County Resource Conservation District will be used to develop a needs assessment to identify potential resources to guide the future strategic direction of the district, while helping build organizational capacity. A special district under Yuba County, the group supports the long-term sustainability and stewardship of the county’s natural resources, including forest and watershed health.

BILL SHAW RESCUE EQUIPMENT AND TRAINING GRANT PROGRAM

Dobbins Oregon House Fire Department 
A $10,000 grant to the Dobbins Oregon House Fire Department will help the department upgrade its wildland fire truck equipment and support its response to medical emergencies, fires, vehicle and boat accidents and search and rescue on the Yuba River, at New Bullards Bar Reservoir and within the communities of Dobbins and Oregon House.

Smartsville Fire Protection District
A $10,000 grant to the Smartsville Fire Protection District will help the district purchase new, more reliable handheld radios and updated personal protective equipment, including new breathing apparatus bottles to increase the time crews can work inside a structure fire.

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. The 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.

ADDITIONAL FUNDING

In addition to the community impact grants detailed above, Yuba Water approved a $350,000, 10-year loan to Wheatland to strengthen its application to the State Department of Parks and Recreation, Rural Recreation and Tourism Program to fund a state-of-the-art aquatic facility in southern Yuba County. The project has already received a $1 million community donation and hopes to use these funds, along with Yuba Water’s commitment, to leverage $3 million from the state. The total cost projection is $4.35 million.

If the construction of the aquatic center is approved, an annual commitment of $65,000 from Yuba Water over 10 years will primarily support water safety and education, lifeguards, swim lessons and public safety personnel training.

Yuba Water’s board has committed to spending up to $10 million per year on community impact grants. 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. Eligible grantees must be a local government agency, tax-exempt non-profit or Native American tribe within Yuba County.

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