It is good practice and stewardship for any water provider to plan ahead for future supply and demand conditions. NID uses the Water Planning Projections in a number of planning documents and other efforts, some are required by law and others are to inform decisions made about water storage and the delivery infrastructure system.
The need to update NIDs Water Planning Projections at this time is driven by upcoming state-required Urban and Raw Water Master Plans, a long range Plan for Water planning effort, new Yuba-Bear System Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements, and climate change impacts. Below is a summary of these required and other planning efforts.
Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP)
The Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) requires all municipal water provider to project its supplies and demands over the next 20 years, describe its conservation efforts and impacts, consider drought impacts, describe its water shortage contingency plan, consider indoor and outdoor water budgets, as well as other elements to report progress. The plan is due to the state every five years, with the next plan due by July 1, 2021.
The plan is functionally a summary of the water provider’s key performance indicators for the next 20 years to support its capabilities to meet its customer’s demands. However, in order for common reporting across all water agencies, the plan requirements have been standardized. Its pre-formatted tables and data entry forms do not allow for an entity to fully investigate and present its unique situation. Therefore, many agencies conduct their detailed planning efforts in a customized manner that best fits their needs, and use the UWMP as a method to report out findings and status.
Agricultural Water Management Plan (AWMP)
The AWMP is similar to the UWMP in that it is a state-mandated requirement and due to the state every five years, with the next plan due by April 1, 2021. The plan requires an agricultural water provider to present information about its ag water customers, water usage, conservation efforts, estimate of water efficiency improvements in the coming decade, and other management elements. The plan, however, does not have a forward-looking supply and demand projection element as detailed in the UWMP.
NOTE: Because NID is both a municipal drinking water supplier and an agricultural raw water supplier it submits both documents.
Plan for Water
A Long-Range Decision Tool to Guide NID’s Water Management
This process is an open and comprehensive look by NID and the community at the potential limitations of its available water resources and the impacts of new regulations, changes in land use, climate change, and community visions. Though science will play a part in understanding the risk and impacts, the Plan for Water will not identify the programs or projects need to meet future demand. The solutions will be identified in the future by NID with the community’s understanding and support of a new water norm, or way of life.
Long range planning ultimately involves forecasting & projecting future conditions based on realistic, valid and supportive assumptions. Regardless of the technology, science, or process used, assumptions still must be made to produce a forecast. These assumptions dictate what the community will be and look like throughout the planning horizon of 50 years. There is a wide range of assumptions that can be made for any particular data point, all of which may be equally valid. It is the purpose of the Water Planning Projections, to define forward-looking and viable assumptions which are supported by industry-standards and reasonable methodology developments.
The Plan for Water is born of the FERC relicensing effort, climate change impacts, financial requirements, and new regulatory requirements. The Plan for Water does not re-analyze or revisit any new requirements set by FERC or the State. Instead, it sets these requirements as the new normal, and looks ahead 50 years to anticipate potential supply/demand scenarios and identify alternative solutions.
Plan for Water – Schedule Adjustment
NID began the Plan for Water process in 2018 and had hoped to be complete by 2020. This would have allowed Water Planning Projections and other information to be included in the UWMP and AWMP due in early 2021. In order to meet the regulatory requirements to submit the UWMP and AWMP in April of 2021, NID must now begin the UWMP and AWMP development process ahead of the Plan for Water process. NID plans to reengage in the Plan for Water effort in Q3, 2021.
Raw Water Master Plan
In the past, NID conducted its analyses of supply and demand needs through the Raw Water Master Plan process and reported out status primarily through the state-mandated five-year Urban Water Management Plan and Agricultural Water Management Plan. However, NID is now facing a much wider scope of issues and impacts that range beyond any previous internal or state-mandated planning efforts. For this reason, NID is creating the Plan for Water to customize the efforts directly to NID’s specific needs. The Nevada Irrigation District’s Raw Water Master Plan was last updated in 2005 and adopted in 2013.
Yuba-Bear Project FERC Relicensing
NID maintains and operates the Yuba-Bear Hydroelectric Power Project under an original 50-year license granted by the federal government in 1963.The District is currently in the process of completing a multi-year effort to relicense the Yuba-Bear Project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).The Project provides many benefits to customers, the community, and the environment including:
• Infrastructure to store and release water supplies to meet NID customer demand.
• Recreation opportunities at Scotts Flat, Rollins and 11 other reservoirs.
• Hydropower to produce clean, green, carbon-free power that offsets water rates.
• Instream environmental flows for rivers
NID’s Hydropower operations are a huge win for customers. In addition to contributing $6-$13 million in revenues from power sales to offset water rates for the customer, Hydro operations also covers all of the costs of upper division water conveyance, delivery, maintenance, and operations from the headwaters of the South Yuba River, Bear River, Canyon Creek, and Deer Creek watersheds through the District’s mid-elevation storage reservoirs of Scotts Flat, Rollins and Combie – 13 reservoirs and 15.6 miles of pipes, flumes, tunnels and open ditch canals.
Though not yet final, the new FERC license includes, among other requirements:
• Up to approximately $216 million in infrastructure improvements, recreation enhancements, monitoring, studies, and environmental mitigation efforts over the next 40 years
• Up to nearly 60,000 acre-feet per year of NID’s water supply must be dedicated to flow requirements to enhance riparian and aquatic habitat for fish and other species and cannot be used by NID to meet customer demand (up from 5,000 acre-feet per year from the previous license)
• Additional operational changes to affect instream temperature and other environmental benefits