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Reader Input: Steve Pettit Knows Bear River As Expressed in his “The Truth About Bear River”

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Mr. Pettit refutes about every untruth NID Board Member John Drew presented in his May 2017 article.  Not only did John Drew present a plethora of untruth concerning Bear River but so did fellow Board Member Nick Wilcox, who in his Auburn Journal Op-Ed titled The Centennial Reservoir Project presented some of the weakest rationales imaginable for NID to build Centennial Dam on the Bear River.

There are NO defensible reasons for NID to build this dam.

What is at stake? Centennial Dam is not needed, and NID will never be able to raise the billion dollars necessary to build it. There is not enough water in the Bear River watershed to fill another dam, so for most of the year Centennial Dam would simply be an unfilled reservoir with a muddy ring around its perimeter, (space) not storing water.

NID has been trying to build this dam since 1926.  The project was first called the Parker Reservoir. Centennial Dam is now an appropriate name — for nearly 100 years NID has been unsuccessful in building its Bear River Dam — and for good reason.

Every NID water storage report given to the Placer County Fish and Game Commission says NID has no less than 86 percent of water storage capacity already available. Despite that, Wilcox erroneously writes, “NID must adapt and plan for the future.”  NID water storage has been more than adequate for years without the ill-conceived Centennial Dam “plan for the future.”

In dozens of letters to the editor and op-eds, unlimited alternatives to building Centennial Dam have been put forth by dozens of residents of Nevada and Placer County. Some examples of viable alternatives to the dam are

  • Raising the four existing dams on the Bear River
  • Keeping Camp Far West Dam full to recharge the groundwater in the Central Valley’s Mehrten Formation Aquifer
  • Removing the sediment behind the existing dams to create enough storage to eliminate any need for building Centennial Dam.

Letters on this subject can be read on FB Friends of Bear River or SaveBearRiver.org.

Even without a Centennial Dam, the Bear River is already designated as our nation's second most endangered river according to one of the nation’s leading environment groups, American Rivers, centered in Washington D.C.

Director Wilcox says the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Centennial Dam is currently being proposed. Yet even with no EIR issued, NID is prematurely buying private parcels on Bear River (in spite of the dam not being authorized?) because the dam has not been authorized yet. Without an EIR in place, NID may be scaring property owners into prematurely selling parcels, intimating that once an EIR is in place, property values with drop precipitously.

Mr. Wilcox writes, “An accurate financial analysis cannot be done before the EIR is complete and the potential environmental mitigation costs established.” He must be ignoring the fact that several financial analyses already have been put forth by former Placer County Water Agency Board Member Otis Wollan and Gary Zimmerman, senior economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and many others.

Wollan and Zimmerman have both projected costs of Centennial Dam to be as high as $1.6 billion and have termed it “the billion dollar boondoggle.”

There is no foreseeable way NID can raise this kind of money.

NID was recently denied its application for $12 million by the California Water Commission, which also gave NID a score of zero on the benefit to the public from Centennial Dam.

And instead of dealing with the nine water rights violations against it, issued by the California Water Quality Control Board, going back to 2009 or providing Fish Passage on Auburn Ravine by removing Hemphill Dam as its Board of Directors instructed its General Manager to do in 2016, NID leadership is self-destructing on Centennial Dam.

How to help oppose the dam: those living outside NID’s five districts — that is, in Colfax, Meadow Vista, and a large part of Auburn, can contact a voter in one on NID’s five divisions and discuss a recommended vote.

For those living in an NID Division, the best course of action is to vote for Rikki Heck, Bruce Herring and Laura Peters in the November 2018 Election.

Jack L. Sanchez, Auburn