Plan now for water saving

By February 07, 2014

From the documents the El Dorado Irrigation District produced for its revenue-saving refinancing comes a list of the district’s largest customers.

The list also serves as a blueprint for saving water. There is little prospect of saving water this year, except through the individual efforts of its customers. But that doesn’t mean EID shouldn’t plan for saving more water in the near and not-so-near future.

EID’s No. 1 customer is the city of Placerville, which does its own water distribution, metering and billing. It’s up to Placerville, through its now very large water bills, to upgrade its water lines. But it could certainly simplify things for itself by piggybacking off EID’s purchase of remotely readable water meters. That will save Placerville some money that can then be applied toward upgrading its water lines.

The next biggest customer is Cameron Park Golf Course. EID and the golf course should be planning now to bring a recycled water line from the Deer Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and pump it up to the golf course. The line would go through Marble Valley and be available if that subdivision project advances. When the state and federal government start offering grants for drought projects there is one that should move to the head of class. The potential state water bond is going to be aimed at recycled water.

The fourth, fifth and sixth highest water users, in order, are the El Dorado Community Services District, El Dorado Union High School District and Buckeye Union School District. Recycled water from the El Dorado Hills Wastewater Treatment Plant should be planned to serve the turf fields of portions of these agencies as well as landscaping in the El Dorado Hills Business Park.

The No. 3 water customer is the Red Hawk Casino. A portion of its landscaping is watered by its septic system. EID, in cooperation with the casino, should conduct a water audit and see if there are ways to reduce water use and still praovide the same customer service.

EID needs to pressure farmers who are not on the Irrigation Management System to get with the program, if nothing else than to ameliorate the cost of drought surcharges.

One project that would save more than 300 acre-feet of water and could be made shovel ready when drought grant funds become available is a pipeline to replace the three-mile Main Ditch that brings water from Forebay Reservoir to Reservoir 1 Treatment Plant in Camino.

Another project that would increase available water is the plan to raise Forebay Dam as part of seismic upgrades required by the state Division of Safety of Dams and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Getting the state and federal government to help pay for that $18 million project would be a real boon.

EID also needs to look at ways to increase supply. The El Dorado County Water Agency and the El Dorado County Water and Power Authority are working to obtain 40,000 acre-feet of water from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Upper Mountain Project. Until all that is needed it would be sold to Sacramento for groundwater recharging. Drought worries will likely cut through the legal red tape and advance this project. EID should be ready to make sure a pumping station at White Rock Penstock and a water line to Bray Reservoir are ready to tag along with this.

Tapping into that is off in the future. It doesn’t hurt to pursue multipronged projects such as adding flashboards to Sly Park Dam and raising a dike to capture more water there in a good water year. Also, beginning some preliminary studies to capture more rainwater runoff in a future Texas Hill Reservoir should be on the engineering drawing boards.

The state and federal government both become hyperactive when there is a crisis. EID needs to be ready to take advantage of this activity when it turns into funding.

Michael Raffety


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