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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
July 16, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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July 16, 2014

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. Feather River Bulletin Wednesday, July 16, 2014 11A Indian Valley moves forward with water transfer plan Samantha P. Hawthorne Staff Writer Contrary to the requests of many community members, the Indian Valley Community Services District board of directors voted July 9 to take the next step in transferring some of its water to a different district. Two months ago the district hired attorney Michael Jackson to find a potential buyer for 1,000 acre-feet of its Round Valley Reservoir water. Since then, the MontecRo Water District agreed to purchase the water for $500 per acre-foot -- a potential profit of nearly $500,000. Although no agreement has been made with the MWD -- or any other district for that matter -- the idea of losing that much water during a time when California is facing record drought has caused local ratepayers, ranchers and water rights holders to lash out against the district. Arguments have been made regarding the legality of the transfer, the lack of communication between the district and ranchers prior to investigating the transfer, and the potential of losing a popular recreation destination. Before offering factual numbers and details about the potential transfer, general manager Jesse Lawson once again offered insight into the financial stability of the district, and asked all in attendance to keep calm while discussions continued. "Any time you talk about water, the discussion becomes emotionally charged," Lawson said. "It makes sense because water is required to live. Period. When things get emotional they tend to get irrational and I want to make sure we keep our heads calm and try and stay rational for this meeting." He recalled the turmoil the district has faced since losing more than $600,000 to acts of embezzlement. ,,. "Recently flied'community was financially mauled -- we all know what happened. But there is a human side to this," he said. Lawson said that for : years, while under the management of former general manager Leanna May Moore, district employees were told no money was available to purchase things the district needed. Jobs were cut -- going from a staff of 14 down to a staff of five -- and tool requests were denied. "The : district was failing its constituents without questions," said Lawson. "Despite there being no i money, the remaining crew i . stepped up and worked to get the job done," he said. "This i required an extremely high ii level of staff dedication and i i equipment. We were under the impression that this ,' community was in dire need and we were willing to get things done no matter the cost ... We did this because we thought we were serving a communRy in need. "It turns out we were enabling a criminal. This has been very taxing.., one of the things compromised was safety." District employees have gone wRhout health insurance, proper tools and proper backup. "We have been forced to continue to compromise safety and we cannot continue to do this," Lawson said. "The safety issues are a direct result of understaffing. The district is severely understaffed during a time where there is a large amount of work to be done." He said if the district does not come up with a way to earn extra income, it could face the very real possibility of receivership in the near future. "No matter what is decided tonight, I hope we remember that we all live in this valley together as a community and we need to operate respectfully to each other," he said. The water transfer If the district proceeds with a transfer of water, 1,000 acre-feet will be removed from Round Valley Reservoir, according to Lawson. He said that equates to 325,8Sl,000 gallons and 25.2 inches of water off the top of the reservoir. Lawson said that is about the height of the fiashboards. He said the flashboards were installed in 1936. And before that, a full reservoir meant the top of the cement spillway that was poured in 1937. Lawson said that until recently, an average of 950 acre-feet per year was released from the lake for use at the Greenville Water Treatment plant. This year, if the district releases 1,000 acre-feet, taking into account evaporation and percolation rates, the reservoir is projected to drop to an elevation of 4,482.8 feet, which is very close to reservoir levels experienced in late 1977. This will leave a little over 2,500 acre-feet in the reservoir. He said the current rate of utilization in Greenville is only 175 acre-feet per year, and leaks only amount to 100 acre-feet per year. "Those two numbers added together, along with some water plant inefficiencies, put the Greenville water demand at 325 acre-feet a year," Lawson said. "If the wells were to fail and we had to run off the lake, a 2,500-acre-foot supply with a 325-acrefoot demand is a substantial reserve." Lawson provided a map illustrating what the shoreline would look like at an elevation of 4,482.8 feet. According to Forest Service botanists, the water shield (aquatic plants) grows in depths between 2 and 10 feet, said Lawson. "That would mean the shoreline ROSBY DRIVEWAY MAINTENANCE 530 - 284 - 1474 Summer 2014 Open 7 Days a week llam - 9:00pm Every Moncay June 30th-sept July 21st Featuring Todd Pcasor  Menu e ziv LocaI M on & on  e nch wd.t Mon BO 530436-1619 .1.90 Bonta Street, Blairsn would recede to a point about half to two-thirds of the way through the existing water shield." Before providing further explanation Lawson said, "There is no way to predict for sure what the future will bring." There is an average yearly inflow of 6,500 acre-feet into the Round Valley Basin. The district's water rights say it can divert from storage 4,800 acre-feet of the water per year. At a low of about 2,500 acre-feet leR, Lawson said the district would need about 2,600 acre-feet of water to reRll the reservoir to the new, lower, authorized limit. Beyond the dam, the district has a 2.0 cubic foot per second right from diversion 64. IVCSD has the rights to all the water flowing from Buckeye Springs, about 100 acre-feet a year. Views on the transfer Lawson said that if the board decides to move forward, the district would first have to develop a proposal with intent to sell. The Department of Water Resources would then review the proposal for legality of transfer, which includes determining if any water rights holders would be affected by the transfer. "We are very much on step one." Jackson said if the district agrees to transfer the water to MWD, the process would be much faster than if R were transferred to a different district. He said MWD is one of 29 California water districts contracted with DWR, meaning R is held to a different set of rules than other California water districts. "DWR is required to prefer transfers to people who pay for its system. In this case, MWD is a preferred buyer because they are already within the system that cannot supply them with enough water." He said much of the work required for the transfer would be completed by MWD. DWR will review the capacity of the facilRies the water rill run through during a trarsfer and decide if there is adequate room for the additional water. He said this should not be an issue since none of them are even halfway full. The next thing DWR will look at is whether or not there are any endangered species that could be affected by the transfer. "rhere is a requirement that there is no unreasonable affect to fish and wildlife." He said since the transfer would be contracted for only one year, the water is required to arrive at its destination by the end of that time period. In the case of temporary water transfers such as this one, California has granted an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act, so any environmental lawsuit filed would be quickly bounced out of courts, said Jackson. "A water transfer is a beneficial use of the Round Valley Reservoir," said Jackson. "You very logically moved to ground water, but if you do not use the water within the reservoir within five years, technically you can lose the water rights." The reservoir was last used for municipal purposes in late 2011. "Every single reservoir in the state of California is at risk in this drought. Right now Montecito has moved forward with two other purchases while we have been waiting to complete this one." MontecRo agreed to continue the transaction ffthe agreed.upon water arrives in the San Luis Reservoir by February 2015. In order to make the least impact to Round Valley, Lawson wants to transfer R slowly through the appropriate water channels. Jackson said ffthe district waits too much longer, the water will have to be pushed through the system at a faster rate. "In this year's water transfer you can make a dent in the story Jesse just told. If you can do it twice, and I dor't know if anyone intends to do it twice, you can make it go away," Jackson concluded, John Shower, a local field biologist, said Round Valley Reservoir is considered an old lake, and is already at risk of drying up. "R is on its last leg of existence," he said. Shower said the reservoir is considered shallow water and is dying fairly fast, becoming a meadow. By transferring the suggested 1,000 acre-feet from the reservoir, he said R would accelerate the rate at which the lake dies. However, ff the district wars to complete the transfer in the winter, there will be much less effect: "The fact we could deliver the water later in the year could be a mR,gating point, R is going to die anyway, so the question is, how quickly do you want it to happen? R is a For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." G,41TIANS: 5:23-24 Calvary Chapel 1953 E, Main St,, Quincy * 283-4463 Triple Mix Blended Soil Highest Quality, Organlo Serving all of Plumas & Lassen counties We deliver or you haul Open Monday thru Saturday sam - 5pm 1080 Hwy 36, Clmtor - near the dimlion OHM 358-7764 or 29-7714 * Lio. #691840 natural fact that lakes become meadows." Harry Rogers, a rancher in the valley who could be affected by the transfer, said if it were allowed the water would flood his and other nearby rancher's properties. Lawson confirmed that what he said could be a very real possibility. Speaking to the heart of the matter, he added, "Dear board members: We have a reservoir on our ranch, about half an acre. It provides our family and friends plenty of enjoyment. Round Valley is the same for Greenville. If you were to drain this piece of paradise and we get another dry year, the effects could be catastrophic." Mina Admire said she was disgusted that the board decided to investigate, and now go forward with the transfer, without first approaching the ranchers who might be affected. "The board had two months to approach the ranchers and ask how they felt about the transfer, and figure out how the district could make the transfer work without affecting them," Admire said. "You may be able to do R legally but will R be ethical, will it be moral, will you be the neighbors I want to live with?" Jack Carson, one of the district's ratepayers, spoke up, asking how many of those in attendance were fellow ratepayers, Only a handful among many raised their hands. He continued, "If we are asking the board to be fiscally responsible, why are we even considering not selling the water? This is the only place I can think of where people would argue that saving a reservoir is more important than giving its water to people who need R to drink. "I've noticed very few people come to these meetings with solutions and I do not understand that. Those of us who are here paying rates deserve consideration. Has A former seventh-grade teacher told everyone in attendance she was going to treat the group like seventh-graders for a moment and asked them to "focus on the positive." She suggested that if the board decides to go forward, it do so once the ranchers' main irrigation time ends, around October. She said, "When water gets tight, neighbors fight. Our main concern is that none of you came to us with this proposal. The loggers are gone, and ranchers will be gone if the water is gone. But who will be next? We want to know this will follow the decree and the law. We want to know we will not be conned by this transfer." Greenville resident Ken Donnell spoke in favor of the transfer. He said, "I believe it is morally the right thing to do. There are other communities and citizens in this state that desperately need water. I believe it would be appropriate for us to share our resources." At around 9:30 p.m., board chairman Brad Smith chose to close the floor to public comment, since one question kept leading to the next and board members had yet to discuss the topic ainong themselves. Tamera Talent, however, was adamant that they let her speak once more. The board would not allow comments to continue, as is its right, which caused several ranchers to speak in support of TalenL Half those in attendance left in haste before the board took action, causing a disturbance as they left. Jackson urged the board to take some sort of action during the meeting, whether it be to continue with the DWR proposal or to stop negotiations altogether, With that, director Jane Braxton Little cautiously worded her motion in favor of continuing the water transfer process. "We need to take this a step at a time and I'd just as soon take anyone set up donation   ,the next step,"l,,. .......... . accounts for the district? " " "What about donating time and resources? Those of you who are looking for concessions, maybe you should help out more. Do something positive, put together groups to raise money. Become the best ratepayers there ever was instead of acting entitled." She motioned to "fully develop a proposal to submit to DWR and offer to transfer 1,000 acre-feet of Round Valley Reservoir water to MWD." Director Mike Yost seconded LRtle's motion, agreeing that a resolution needed to be put in place. The remaining two board members agreed, and a resolution was passed. Lowest Prices of the Year for Exterior Paintingl I ..... I " Free Estimates llil00mif. Summer Time Slots ]ll000000llW Filling Fast !Wl$. Siding/Deck Restoration Over 20 Years in Plumas County Lead-Safe Certified Protect and Beautify your Home with the Lowest Prices of the Year. O BOB RAYMOND PAINTING CA Lic #759=77 836-1339 or 249-3966 llllllll| Any Comldnatlon ms item Also Serving: Mall Night Pdme IIIb @rod//Imt/IIu/eM Food/ Group reservations available. 875 E. Main, Quincy NIM Cha/lges- 282..4761S