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PG&E says permanent canal fix could come by mid-June

Company pledging $1.8 million to water agencies for break-related expenses
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Tuesday night local water customers spoke out about their concerns and questions surrounding the impacts an April 19 Bear River Canal break is having on their lives, while PG&E said it is slightly ahead of where it thought it would be in terms of construction. PG&E announced it has pledged up to $1.8 million to the Placer County Water Agency and Nevada Irrigation District to offset some of the companies’ pumping and administrative costs resulting from the break. The meeting was held in view of a substantial crowd in Placer Hall at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. At the end of the meeting the PCWA board of directors formally passed a resolution declaring a water shortage emergency condition. The resolution also outlined the current re-orificing and rolling outage methods the agency is using for its irrigation water customers in upper and lower Service Zone 1 as well as Service Zone 3. The resolution gave detailed conservation methods for treated water customers and Chairman Lowell Jarvis stressed that the agency is hoping for continued conservation of 25 percent or more. Mike Jones, acting vice president of power generation for PG&E, said as of Tuesday PG&E had facilitated trucking 1.2 million gallons of water from Rollins Reservoir, located to the north of the canal break, to Lake Arthur Reservoir in Auburn. Jones said PG&E is also working with PCWA at the Ophir Pump Station at the top of Zone 3 to get more water into PG&E’s South Canal, allowing for additional water in that area. Jones said the company is also looking at ways to pump water directly from the Bear River into the Bear River Canal. Jones said much of the work done to date at the canal has been clearing trees, surveying the ground and creating roads for construction to begin. Denny Boyles, spokesman for PG&E, said as of 7 a.m. Tuesday 530 cubic yards of concrete had been poured into the chasm below the break. The total amount of concrete is expected to be 2,000 cubic yards. The pour is scheduled to be built up in sections, providing support for the canal. A concrete shelf is expected to support the canal itself at the top of the build. Jones said construction is slightly ahead of the expected schedule. “Based on our current productivity, we expect to complete that temporary bypass by early June and the final fix by mid-June,” Jones said. PCWA customer Donna Williams expressed concerns about the maintenance of the canal, and Jones said the canal is being inspected on a daily basis. Unit Chief Brad Harris spoke again about the concern non-irrigated fields cause to Cal Fire crews in terms of fire risk. Loomis resident Debbie Newton said even though her property is currently on rolling 24-hour outages, she is seeing very little water. “We have a tree nursery, and when we were told we were going to … every other day (outages) we figured we could handle it, but when yesterday (came), our day (to have water), we couldn’t get one sprinkler to turn,” Newton said. “We are probably getting 10 percent of the water we are supposed to get.” Mike Nichol, director of field services for PCWA, said the agency is having some challenges moving water through the canal system right now and asked customers not receiving the full amount of water on their on-days to call the agency. Robert Moss, who lives in the Loomis Basin and runs a livestock operation, asked several questions including whether or not PCWA planned to take any legal action against PG&E. Moss also asked about any potential reduction in customer rates because of the reduction in water. Janet Goldsmith, PCWA’s attorney, said legal action was not being explored at the moment but it was not “something that will be overlooked forever.” Jarvis said any potential rebates or rate changes to customers are not yet being discussed. “I think right now our focus is on supplying our customers with water and we will be taking up questions of rates as we learn more about the situation,” Jarvis said. Beverly Moss, Robert Moss’ wife, said being at the end of a ditch line is a big concern and that the couple may have to sell their cattle or use a hose system to water them with well water. Roland Fellman, a livestock owner who has 10 acres of irrigated property at the end of Rock Springs Canal, said when the water is turned on after an outage it is only a dribble for the first couple of hours, so he can’t immediately irrigate his land. Fellman said he also wanted to know if customers would be compensated for the lack of water. “The one question I would like to hear something about is if I’m limited to 18 or 20 hours of my potential 10 inches of water, and I’m not able to utilize it, what am I going to pay for it?” Fellman asked. “I would like the chairman to at least make everyone in the room feel more comfortable about what we are going to be paying for this water.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Tips for treated water conservation from PCWA Tips for treated water conservation PCWA is asking treated water customers to conserve 25 percent or more of their regular water supply. Here are some tips from the agency: · For landscaping: no watering during daylight hours, only water between sunset and sunrise. Only water three days per week. Odd addresses: Wednesday, Friday, Sunday Even addresses: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday Reduce the minutes an irrigation valve/station is running. Inspect landscape irrigation systems for leaks and adjust spray heads to minimize overspray and runoff · Wash vehicles using bucket and hose with a shutoff nozzle · Do not wash streets, sidewalks, parking lots or driveways · Do not refill decorative fountains, pools, ponds, streams and decorative waterways · If drained, do not refill swimming pools · Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes · Shorten showers by several minutes · Restaurants should serve water only upon request by customer · Take advantage of PCWA water conservation programs ------------------------------------------------------- PG&E website with canal updates To find out about the latest PG&E actions concerning the Bear River Canal break visit pgecurrents.com/2011/05/10/bear-river-canal-repair-update-may-10-2011/ ------------------------------------------------------ Upcoming PCWA meeting The next PCWA board meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. May 19 at 144 Ferguson Road in Auburn. Information: Visit pcwa.net, or call (530) 823-4850