PARADISE — The Paradise Irrigation District announced early Thursday afternoon that it would delay an online meeting scheduled for later Thursday evening.
The district said the consultants had requested a postponement until next month of the study which gives PID 23 options in the future.
One of the options is to do nothing, but the 23 options cover the district’s financial demands, potential reorganization in 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 financing agreements.
When the district announced the March 2 meeting, it noted that it was one of many the district wants to hold on the study project. This study is intended to help the district ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of Paradise’s water system as it progresses in its recovery.
The state required the study of options so that the district could receive money to restore water service to its customers after the camp fire. The devastating fire cost the district nearly 90% of its customers, and state money makes water supply operations financially viable until Paradise recovers from the fire.
Residents can find the 54-page draft of the study on the PID website and offers 23 options the district can consider to stay in business.
The study says one district option is to rely on its PG&E rules to help it stay afloat.
The study says PID is still in talks with the company and wants $277 million in Camp Fire damage to its infrastructure and operations. However, it is unclear when this settlement will materialize.
According to the draft study, Paradise’s pre-fire population of 26,000 is expected to be back by 2040. Currently, the district says it serves 3,600 connections from active water resources and, using a Department of Water Resources tool, estimates this equates to 9,000 residents in Paradise. .
The study also points out that the PID is seeking grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay about $80.3 million in projects — where FEMA will pay 75% of the costs.
These projects are:
- Future Service Replacement Project
- Backflow preventers
- Water meters
- Housing boxes with automated metering infrastructure
- Main line replacement
- B Replacement of the tank
Reorganization of the agency
One of the options raised by the study, the district could benefit from potential financial advantages if it were reorganized with other agencies with strong managerial, technical and financial capacities.
Another option for the district is to combine with other agencies like the City of Paradise or the South Feather River Power agency.
The study notes that most of the district’s population is in the incorporated area of Paradise – and that combining into the city could be a good option.
“The reorganization of PID in the city of Paradise would allow both entities to leverage existing managerial and technical capabilities and existing financing, and optimize operating expenses, which would help PID overcome the financial shortfall until the return of its customers.”
The South Feather Water and Power Agency is also an option for the district.
“SFWPA is significantly larger than PID, and therefore reorganizing PID into SFWPA would allow operations to continue and deficit absorption until PID’s clientele returns,” the study said.
The draft study also mentions Del Oro Water Company which serves 6,000 connections in the Paradise Pines, Lime Saddle, Magalia and Buzztail districts surrounding Paradise.
The study indicates that “the reorganization of one of these districts or a combination of these districts would allow both entities to take advantage of existing managerial and technical capacities and to optimize operating expenses, which would help PID to overcome the financial deficit until the return of its customers”.
The draft study also deals with water transfers. This study indicates that “water transfers can provide a source of income for the PID as well as the maintenance of associated water rights during a period when the supply might otherwise be surplus to the needs of the PID”.
The study estimates that PID would have between 3,000 and 5,000 acre-feet per year available for transfer. However, it also indicates that the actual amount of water available will be calculated during the assessment process, taking into account three geography-based transport types available for the PID.
Butte County: This would mean transfers to county entities like Chico or other agricultural water supplies in the Sacramento Valley portion of Butte County. The study notes that water transfers to county features can be made through local facilities such as the Miocene Canal, a proposed interconnection with the town of Chico, or through the Feather River and Lake Oroville.
The study also indicates that the transfers could help groundwater use in the valley and develop groundwater sustainability plans.
The city says these types of transfers could be run annually and would provide a consistent source of revenue for the district. The study notes that revenue per acre-foot of water transferred into Butte is likely to be lower than transfers to the Delta North and Delta South.
North of the delta: water transfers to the north of the delta would be routed from Lake Oroville, according to the study. These transfers would also be made annually, depending on demand. These potential partners could be Sacramento, Yolo and Solano counties and would receive water from the Feather River and then the Sacramento River.
The study also points out that reduced groundwater availability would also mean that water districts in these counties will see a need for water.
This study estimates that these errors would likely be willing to buy water between $100 and $300 per acre-foot.
South of the delta: While transfers to areas south of the delta would be even more beneficial to the PID in terms of the income it could create, the study notes, “due to constraints in the delta, these transfers have historically occurred less frequently. “.
The study indicates that sellers “received $400 to $700 per acre-foot of water made available for transfers to the south of Delta entities.”
This study indicates that higher prices do not reflect increased demand for supplemental water in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California metropolitan areas. Demand is likely to increase as groundwater supplies are reduced due to the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Act, further increasing the price.
One of the potential infrastructure options ahead of PID is the 25-mile-long Miocene Channel, which PG&E is trying to sell. If the district could buy the canal after PG&E fixes it, it could increase the district’s revenue.
The study notes that approximately 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 that PID would obtain from the possession of the canal to users in the south of the delta.
Two other infrastructure options for the PID are an interconnection with Chico, then on the water treatment plant – and the other raises the Magalia dam.
The study notes that Cal Water and PID have discussed the Chico Intertie since 2017, but never moved forward due to project feasibility and costs. The scoping study points out that Chico’s only source of water is groundwater and that the interconnection would give Chico a reliable water source and add resilience to Chico.
The project would be constructed in conjunction with a potential sewer system to Chico, but would also require PID to expand or modify its water treatment plant to supply water to Chico during normal, wet years.
Raising the Magalia dam is not a new idea at PID. This has been under discussion since the state lowered the elevation of the dam in 1997 due to earthquake concerns. The project is currently in the design phase and would raise the level of the lake to its original height of 2,225.8 feet.
Once the district secures funding for the project, it will begin work and plans to complete it in 2030. The study highlights that once the district secures funding, it will move forward on the project and could be completed by 2030. 2030.
The study also points out that raising the dam would increase storage levels by 2,000 acre-feet, bringing the total PID acre-feet to 14,100. PID to supply more water to other agencies in Butte County and north and south of the Delta.
The draft study focuses on the Paradise Sewer Project, bringing PID back to metering water usage, the potential of bottled water, and entering into voluntary agreements to help fisheries.
Increase in funding
These ideas include rate increases, tax increases, appraisals, and seeking loans or grants. The district would receive these loans or grants from agencies such as the California Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the California Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, the Small Community Drinking Water Funding Program, or obtain a financial loan.
Option 23 – SWRCB Funding Assistance
The district could continue to seek help from the State Water Resources Control Board, from which it received $15 million from 2019 to 2021.