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Posted on: September 19, 2023

Yuba Water grant will upgrade aging water delivery infrastructure to improve reliability

An old wooden flume with water in it surrounded by a steep hillside and trees.

Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors today committed $200,000 to help the North Yuba Water District upgrade a deteriorating wooden flume that delivers water for residential and agricultural use in the Yuba County foothills. The funds will cover the construction of a new, inverted siphon to replace the aging Hell for Stout Flume, which is part of the Forbestown Ditch, and increase its capacity for water delivery.

“This flume is essential for safeguarding the reliability and capacity of water deliveries in the area,” said Yuba Water Board Director Jon Messick, who also represents Yuba County’s foothill communities as a county supervisor. “A failure of this system would be catastrophic for our foothill residents.”

A recent engineering inspection of the flume found the structure to be at or near the end of its service life due to severe timber rotting and leaks that compromise its overall soundness. The location of the flume on a steep slope in the foothills also means it’s susceptible to hazards from surrounding rocks, trees and erosion, and impacts from heavy winter storms like those experienced last winter. The inspection determined that the flume likely would not survive the coming winter, which could have devastating impacts on foothill residents.

Yuba Water previously provided $400,000 to the district for engineering and analysis of the state of the flume. Based on the grave condition of the structure during the initial inspection, North Yuba Water requested that those funds instead be redirected to cover construction, which the Yuba Water board approved, as well as the additional $200,000.

The improvements will increase the flume’s capacity from 22 cubic feet per second to 38 cubic feet per second.

“Yuba Water Agency was created to reduce flood risk and ensure a sustainable water supply in Yuba County,” said Yuba Water General Manager Willie Whittlesey. “One of the primary ways we do that is by helping others with funds to support planning, engineering and implementation of projects like this one, which directly benefits local water supply reliability.” 

The district plans to begin construction as soon as mid-October to get ahead of winter weather.

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