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Paradise Irrigation District delays meeting on its options study – Chico Enterprise-Record - Energy And Water Development Corp

Paradise Irrigation District delays meeting on its options study – Chico Enterprise-Record


The Paradise Irrigation District announced early Thursday afternoon that it would delay a zoom meeting set for later Thursday night.

The district said the consultants requested the delay until next month on the study that gives PID 23 options going forward.

One of the options is to do nothing, but the 23 options covers district’s financial claims, potential reorganization into the Town of Paradise and the South Feather River Power agency, or Del Oro folding into the PID.

It covers water transfers, infrastructure ideas, other ideas, including the Paradise Sewer Project and funding agreements.

When the district announced the meeting on March 2, it noted it was one of many the district wants to hold on the draft study. This study is meant to help the district ensure long-term sustainability and resiliency to the water system in Paradise as it moves forward in its recovery.

The state required the options study so the district could receive money to restore water service to its customers following the Camp Fire. The devastating fire cost the district nearly 90% of its customers, making water supply operations financially sustainable until Paradise recovers from the fire.

Residents can find the 54-page draft of the study at the PID website and has 23 options for the district to consider to remain in business.

Financial Claims

The study says one district option is to rely on its PG&E settlement to help keep it afloat.

The study says that PID is still in talks with the company and wants $277 million in Camp Fire damages to its infrastructure and operations. However, it is unknown when that settlement will come to fruition.

According to the draft study, Paradise’s pre-fire population of 26,000 is projected to be back by 2040. Currently, the district says it’s serving 9.000 residents in Paradise.

The study also points out PID is seeking FEMA grants to pay for about $80.3 million in projects — where FEMA will pay for 75% of the costs.

Those projects are:

• Service Later Replacement Project,
• Backflow Preventers,
• Water Meters,
• Housing Boxes along with Automated Metering Infrastructure,
• Main Line Replacement, and
• B Reservoir Replacement.

Agency Reorganization

One of the options that the study brings up the district could gain some potential financial benefits if reorganized with other agencies with strong managerial, technical and financial capability.

Another option for the district combine into other agencies like the Town of Paradise and the South Feather River Power agency,

The study notes that most of the district’s population is within Paradise’s incorporated area — and that combining into the town could be a good option.
“Reorganizing PID into the Town of Paradise would allow the two entities to leverage existing managerial and technical capabilities and existing funding, and optimize operating expenses, which would assist PID to overcome the financial deficit until their customer base returns.”

The South Feather Water and Power Agency agency is also an option for the district.
“SFWPA is substantially larger than PID, and thus reorganizing PID into SFWPA would permit
continued operations and an absorption of the deficit until PID’s customer base returns,” this study says.

The draft study also mentions Del Oro Water Company which serves 6,000 connections in Paradise Pines, Lime Saddle, Magalia, and Buzztail districts surrounding Paradise.

The study says that “reorganizing any of these districts or combination of these Districts would allow the two entities to leverage existing managerial and technical capabilities and optimize operating expenses which would assist PID to overcome the financial deficit until their customer base returns.”

Water transfers

The draft study also addresses water transfers. This study states, “Water transfers can provide a source of revenue for PID as well as maintaining associated water rights during a period when the supply may otherwise be surplus to PID’s needs.”

The study estimates that PID would have between 3,000 to 5,000 acre-feet per year available for transfer. However, it also says the actual amount of water available will be calculated during the evaluation process, considering three types of transport based on geography available to PID.

• Butte County: This would mean transfers to in-county entities like Chico or other agricultural water supplies in the Sacramento valley portion of Butte County. The study notes that water transfers to in-county entities may be accomplished through local facilities such as the Miocene Canal, a proposed intertie with the City of Chico, or through the Feather River and Lake Oroville.

The study also says transfers could help with groundwater use in the valley and develop groundwater sustainability plans.

The city says those kinds of transfers could be handled annually and would provide a constant source of revenue to the district. The study notes the revenue per acre-feet of transferred water within Butte will likely be lower than transfers to North of the Delta and South of the Delta.

• North of Delta: water transfers to the North of Delta would be conveyed from Lake Oroville, the study said. These transfers would also be done annually, depending on the demand. Those potential partners could be Sacramento, Yolo and Solano County and would receive the water from the Feather River and then the Sacramento river.

The study also points out that reducing groundwater availability would also mean water districts in those counties will see a need for water.

This study estimates those errors would likely be willing to buy water in the range of $100 to $300 per acre-f

• South of Delta: While transfers to areas South of the Delta would be even more beneficial to PID in terms of the revenue it could create, the study notes, “due to constraints in the Delta these transfers have historically occurred less frequently.”

The study says that sellers north of the Delta “have received $400 to $700 per acre-foot of water made
available for transfers to south of the Delta entities.”

this study says the higher prices aren’t a reflection of higher demand for supplemental water within the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California metropolitan areas. Demand is likely to increase as groundwater supplies are reduced due to state law regarding sustainable groundwater –further increasing price.

Infrastructure

One of the potential infrastructure options in front of  PID is the 25-mile-long Miocene Canal, which PG&E attempts to sell. If the district could buy the canal after PG&E repairs it. It could be a revenue enhancer for the district.

The study notes that about 3,300 acre-feet of PG&E water are sold to Cal Water subscribers in Oroville from the canal. The study also notes that PID could sell the additional water PID would get from owning the canal to South of the Delta users.

Two other infrastructure options for the PID are an intertie to Chico and then onto the water treatment plant and the other is raising Magalia Dam.

The study notes that Cal Water and PID discussed the Chico intertie since 2017, but it never moved forward because of the feasibility and project costs. The draft study points out that Chico’s sole water source is groundwater and the intertie would give Chico a reliable water source and add resiliency to Chico.

The project would be built along the same time as a potential sewer system to Chico, but would also require PID to expand or modify its water treatment plant to deliver water to Chico during normal and wet years,

Raising Magalia Dam isn’t a new idea at PID. It’s been discussed since the state lowered the dam’s elevation in 1997 due to earthquake concerns. The project is in the design phase now and would increase the lake level to its original height of 2,225.8 ft.

Once the district secures funding for the project, it will begin the work and plan to complete it in 2030. The study points out that once the district contains funding, it will move forward on the project and could be finished with it by 2030

the study also points out that raising the dam would increase storage levels by 2,000 acre-feet bringing PID’s total acre-feet to 14,100. The draft study says that the additional storage capacity could allow PID to deliver more water to other agencies within Butte County and both north of the delta and South of the delta

Other ideas

The draft study addresses the Paradise sewer project, returning PID to metering water usage, the potential for bottled water, and entering into voluntary agreements to help fisheries.

Funding Augmentation

These ideas include rate increases, tax increases, assessments, and seeking loans or grants. The district would receive those loans or grants from agencies like California Clean Water State Revolving Fund, California Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, Small Community Drinking Water (SCDW) Funding Program, or obtain a financial loan.

Option 23 – SWRCB Funding Assistance

The district could continue to seek help from State Water Resources Control Board, from which it received $15 million from 2019- to 2021.



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