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Posted on: January 21, 2020

Yuba Water Agency funds project to improve Wheatland drinking water system

A rusty, outdated water meter

A more efficient water system that will improve the city of Wheatland’s drinking water supply is in the works with the help of a grant from Yuba Water Agency. 

The $700,000 grant, approved today by the agency board, provides funds for the city to replace its aging water distribution system equipment, including all of the water meters, water meter reading technology and associated software. 

The current distribution system includes multiple brands of outdated and inefficient meters, and doesn’t allow the city to identify water losses or alert its customers in a timely manner when their water use is high, which can lead to significant waste and unnecessarily high water bills. 

“This funding will directly benefit not just the city of Wheatland, but the approximately 3,700 people who live there, as well,” said Gary Bradford, Yuba Water Agency director and county supervisor for the district that includes Wheatland. “Giving everyone the ability to better monitor their water usage and catch a leak before it’s a crisis will spare many families from the financial burden that comes with a water leak.”   

Leveraging potential funding from the state, Yuba Water Agency’s grant will save Wheatland’s customers approximately $1,273 per connection, which would otherwise be absorbed through rate increases. 

Additionally, the antiquated equipment requires extra work, reducing efficiency for an already strained workforce. Wheatland staff reports that a recent, routine meter reading required them to open more than 350 of the 1,100 connections to ensure they were accurate and measuring appropriate customer water usage. 

The new improvements will include remote-read meters for customers and updated software that will identify leaks automatically, allowing for improved water conservation and efficiency through constant monitoring, while also alleviating the need for employees to check the meters each month, saving staff time.      

Yuba Water Agency has worked with Wheatland to develop this project, known as the Wheatland Comprehensive Drinking Water Project. The $700,000 is the local match to leverage state grant funding through the California Department of Water Resources’ Integrated Regional Water Management grant program, which provides funding for multi-benefit regional water projects. To qualify for state funding, the grant application requires a 50 percent local match. 

“We’ve been working on this grant for years,” said Wheatland City Manager Jim Goodwin. “This funding from Yuba Water Agency allows us to move forward with the water metering component of the project, which is crucial because we essentially have a failing system and need to make those improvements as quickly as we can for the benefit of our residents.”

Other aspects of the total project, estimated at $1.4 million, include enhancements to the city’s current water storage. 

Yuba Water Agency’s grant allows the deficiencies in the water meter reading system to be addressed right away, while strengthening the competitiveness for the remainder of the project to receive further funding from DWR. 

Yuba Water is able to grant these funds to Wheatland because this project will help conserve water, and ensuring a sustainable water supply is a primary agency mission.

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