Placer Water hosts 50th anniversary event

Event attracts standing-room only crowd
By: Journal Staff
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Financed by the Placer County Water Agency to build the Middle Fork American River Hydroelectric Project 50 years ago, a special 50th anniversary celebration was hosted Thursday by the agency Board of Directors.

The event attracted a standing room-only crowd of 100 people held at the agency’s Business Center in Auburn. The audience included citizens, public officials, and community and business leaders from across Placer County and Northern California.

Agency Board Chairman Gray Allen and General Manager David Breninger welcomed and moderated the event.

The ceremony focused on the people, actions and documents that led to the 1963-67 construction of the agency’s hydroelectric project, which became the first water supply and hydroelectric project of its kind to be developed by a county utilizing “area of origin” water rights.

 “It’s important to celebrate the power, but development of new, reliable water supply for the future use by the people of Placer County was the real motivation of the founders,” said Water Agency legal counsel Janet Goldsmith, one of several speakers at the event.

Breninger emphasized that, “With increased demand for downstream water supplies, particularly exported from the Delta, the agency remains ever vigilant to preserve Placer County’s “area of origin” water rights. The foresight and actions implemented by water agency leaders 50 years ago, who gave us those rights, will be forever protected by the agency.”

The project was built for $115 million through a bond issued in 1963. Agency Director of Financial Services Joe Parker showed a specimen of the original 1963 revenue bond of which the last was paid off in January this year.

The project is fully owned and operated by the water agency. The power generated by the project is sold to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

The project includes two major reservoirs - French Meadows and Hell Hole - seven dams, five hydroelectric power plants and 21 miles of tunnels. It stores 340,000 acre-feet of water and produces an average 1 million megawatt hours of energy per year. It provides 120,000 acre-feet of firm water to PCWA.

A video of the history of the development of the Middle Fork Project was shown at the event and was narrated by the agency’s Director of Strategic Affairs Einar Maisch.

The video may be viewed at or a copy can be requested from the Clerk to the Board Cheri Sprunck at (530) 823-4860.