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The original item was published from 4/4/2023 1:15:59 PM to 4/5/2023 9:38:33 AM.

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Posted on: April 4, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Yuba Water discusses water supply conditions, approves funding for local hydro improvements and more

A flooded rice field with a white barn and mountains in the background.

Water supply in Yuba County is in excellent condition. That was one of the key takeaways from today’s Yuba Water Agency Board of Directors meeting.

"After three very dry years, Yuba County’s water supply is in fantastic shape this year, thanks to the exceptionally wet and snowy winter we’ve had,” said Ryan McNally, Yuba Water’s director of water resources and flood risk reduction.

In a presentation to the board, McNally described the health of Yuba County’s surface and groundwater supplies and how Yuba Water works closely with its local irrigation partners to manage those supplies. McNally also detailed the agency’s extensive water delivery infrastructure and planned upgrades to ensure continued water supply reliability. 

“Yuba Water truly takes pride in managing our shared water resources in partnership with our local irrigation districts, which we call our member units,” McNally continued. “This includes sharing and working from the same technical information to inform what actions we’re taking.”

In addition to discussing the agency’s partnerships and efforts to ensure a reliable water supply for the region, Yuba Water’s board committed more than $1.8 million to help Browns Valley Irrigation District modernize its hydropower facility at Virginia Ranch Dam, located at Collins Lake. 

The 38-year-old system is nearing the end of its life and requires significant maintenance. Delays and challenges related to sourcing specialty parts and equipment needed to keep the powerhouse running has resulted in longer and more frequent outages.

“Aging infrastructure and supply chain challenges are something we’re familiar with in Yuba County and beyond,” said Willie Whittlesey, Yuba Water’s general manager. “BVID is one of our oldest irrigation partners, and we’re glad to support their operational reliability as we all continue to navigate these types of uncertainties.”

BVID estimates that replacing the aging system will cost approximately $3.6 million and has already committed $750,000 as the local share. Yuba Water’s funds will be used to leverage federal funding through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy for the Hydroelectric Improvement Incentives Program, which supports the modernization of small hydroelectric facilities. 

Applications for the program are due by the end of June. If BVID’s application is successful, the federal funding will cover 30 percent of the overall cost of the upgrade.

Lastly, the board authorized staff to file a California Environmental Quality Act notice of exemption for its planned Power Systems Headquarters Project, which allows the agency to move forward with the bid process for the project. A third-party analysis conducted by GEI Consultants determined that the project qualifies for streamlined environmental review.

The purpose of the project is to relocate Yuba Water’s current headquarters from an aging building adjacent to New Colgate Powerhouse at the base of Lake Francis Road, which is no longer adequate to accommodate the agency’s current staff and future hires. The new building will be located on Marysville Road in Oregon House.

The estimated cost of the project is $35 million to $45 million. A final construction budget with additional details on the project will be brought back for board approval in the coming weeks.

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