On Wednesday January 25, the Calaveras County Water District Board of Directors unanimously authorized two studies involving the Mokelumne River in Calaveras County. Peter Martin, CCWD water resources program manager, explained one study will evaluate the specific water supply reliability and infrastructure needs of the West Point community, and the other will study the long-term water needs for the areas of Calaveras County served by the Mokelumne River. ECORP Consulting, Inc. was awarded the contract to perform both studies and will team up with KASL Engineering to perform the work, which is expected to be completed in September of 2017. The cost of the studies is not to exceed $296,000, and the Calaveras Public Utilities District is partnering with CCWD to help cover the cost of the long-term needs study. For additional information on these studies, click here to see item 4B in board agenda package.

“When completed, these studies will provide important water supply decision-making tools for the Districts and the region, which is becoming more essential given the recent unprecedented drought and expectations of long-term service to secure the health and welfare of our communities,” Martin said.

Dave Eggerton, CCWD general manager, updated the Board on the status of CCWD’s efforts to mitigate flood damage to Blagen Road in White Pines. The Board unanimously ratified emergency actions taken by District staff in response the erosion damage that made the road unpassable and threatened CCWD’s main water transmission line serving the town of Arnold. Due to the damage, Blagen Road has been closed to the public at its crossing of Big Trees Creek since January 11 and will not be reopened until the Calaveras County Public Works Department completes repairs. Staff estimates the emergency actions taken by CCWD will cost between $50,000 and $100,000. Eggerton said he is hopeful the District will be reimbursed for some of costs by the State as Calaveras County has declared an emergency. For more information on the Blagen Road damage, click here to see item 4a of the board agenda package.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the outstanding efforts of District staff and our contractor T&S Construction who responded so quickly to this emergency and protected the Arnold community’s water supply,” Eggerton said.

CCWD Director of Administrative Services Jeffrey Meyer provided the Board with a mid-year budget update, which reviewed the first six months of FY 2016-2017. He said the budget is generally meeting projections, and shared the good news that both water sales and hydropower revenues have increased from the prior year. However, costs associated with maintaining a safe, reliable water supply with no outages to customers through two of the wettest months in the County’s history have led to unexpected costs. This emergency work has also prevented CCWD staff from working on scheduled Capital Renovation and Replacement Projects. The combination of these two major factors created a projected year-end shortfall of about $50,000.

Looking forward, Meyer cautioned the Board that the District could be facing an additional shortfall of between $50,000 and $100,000. This is due to emergency construction projects that repaired damage caused by the recent extreme weather, which occurred after the report was prepared. However, Meyer is hopeful that some of that a portion of the money spent on emergency projects can be recovered from the state, since Calaveras County declared an emergency on January 24. For additional details on the mid-year budget, click here to see Item 4d in the board agenda package.

The Board also received an update on the local water supply conditions in Calaveras County from Joel Metzger, public information officer. As of January 25, the Calaveras County region had received 43 inches of rain, which is 225 percent of the historical average for this time of year and exceeds the historical average for an entire wet season, which is 41 inches. Snow water content in the Central Sierra is at 190 percent of the historical average for this time of year. All major reservoirs in Calaveras County are filling fast or spilling. In fact, since mid-January water managers of New Hogan and Camanche Reservoirs have been conducting flood releases to ensure there is adequate room for additional runoff. CCWD remains in Stage 0 of its water shortage contingency plan, which can be seen here.

Due to the exceptionally good water supply conditions throughout the majority of the state, CCWD urged the State Water Resources Control Board to end the statewide emergency water conservation regulation at a January 18 meeting. Additionally, the District is composing a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown urging him to end the drought emergency that he declared by executive order. To read a copy of CCWD’s letter to the State Water Board, click here. To see a copy of Metzger’s local water supply conditions presentation, click here.

Written by Joel Metzger