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Temporary solution to canal break possible

Repairs could start in a month, cost over $1 million, PG&E says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A temporary solution to water shortages due to a break in the Bear River Canal is a possibility, while permanent repairs are expected to cost over $1 million. On Thursday afternoon The Placer County Water Agency board met to discuss the issue and hear presentations from staff members and PG&E representatives. Alvin Thoma, director of power generation from PG&E, said 40 people were out at the site of the break Thursday to continue the process of evaluating the damage and deciding how to move forward in terms of repairs. A landslide caused the break early Tuesday morning and affects about 4,000 PCWA raw, or ditch, water customers and 800 Nevada Irrigation District irrigation customers. Thoma said the break caused a loss of 40 linear feet of the canal, and the steep terrain and remote area of the break don’t allow for an immediate fix. PG&E has a basic estimated cost for the repairs, Thoma said. “We know it’s over a million, but it’s hard to say beyond that,” he said. Thoma said the company still can’t be sure what caused the landslide, but it is doubtful that it was activity at a fault line and could have been related to this season’s heavy rain and snow. “It happened in the middle of the night,” Thoma said. “Nobody was there watching it, so it’s speculation as to what the mechanism was.” Board Chairman Lowell Jarvis asked Thoma if a temporary liner could be put in place to get some water running in the canal again. Thoma said it wouldn’t be a liner that would be needed, but pipes. Thoma said the company is currently trying to figure out how to connect those pipes for a temporary fix without getting in the way of construction that would need to occur on the canal. Bill Williams, hydro superintendent for PG&E, said work on the bypass could begin as early as Friday. Williams said the company hopes to have all the information needed to give PG&E an idea on how to go about the repairs soon, although construction probably wouldn’t begin for a month. “We expect by the end of Monday to have all the technical data collected on the area itself,” Williams said. Thoma said the company does not encourage citizens to try to go look at the break because of the steep terrain and possible continuing movement of the soil. During the meeting PCWA staff also made presentations about zone 1 customers affected by the break, how the company is pumping from the American River and its different canal systems to keep as much water flowing as possible and how alternating outages on its canal systems would impact customers. Donald Anderson, a retired construction engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation, who attended the meeting, said he thinks the agencies are doing what they can to get through the situation. “These (breaks) are very difficult, and that is an extremely difficult location to get into,” Anderson said. “I have my views of what I would do, but my working days are done.” For a list of canals that are subject to 24-hour outages and information on how PCWA is supplementing its water supply, visit pcwa.net. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Is your water supply drying up? Call Bridget Jones at (530) 852-0235 or e-mail bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com