Skip to main content

Irrigation season begins on April 15

Water flows to customers, but conservation is requested

Person in high-vis gear stands by a wooded stream.
Cascade Canal

April 15 signals the start of irrigation season, which switches on flows to Nevada Irrigation District (NID) canals in support of local agriculture. That water is drawn from foothill reservoirs; Scotts Flat Reservoir supplies Nevada County, and Rollins Reservoir supplies Placer County.

This year the season begins against the backdrop of limited water supply and a call for conservation. Despite a wet winter season that has delivered an average amount of precipitation, a landslide and infrastructure failure at Lake Spaulding, owned by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has cut off water supply to NID conveyance systems.

The NID Board of Directors have declared a “water shortage emergency,” calling for voluntary water conservation by all customers, and they have responded. To date, 136 raw water customers have voluntarily reduced their water use, saving 238 miner's inches, or 2,500 acre-feet: "We appreciate our customers' efforts so far. The response has been been good; we encourage people to keep it up," Chip Close, Director of Operations, told the Board during the April 10 meeting. 

In total, NID maintains 500 miles of canals, and supplies raw water to irrigate more than 32,000 acres in Nevada and Placer counties. That water is used for diverse agricultural endeavors, ranging from irrigating pastures to growing crops, as well as family gardens.

The emergency was created after a landslide significantly damaged PG&E’s South Yuba Pipe, which conveys water to NID’s South Yuba Canal, the primary supply to Deer Creek System and Scotts Flat Reservoir. In addition, PG&E’s Spaulding 1 powerhouse sustained an infrastructure failure that has curtailed water flow into the Drum Canal. That canal provides water to Rollins Reservoir and the Bear River.

Updates about the situation will be posted on a special NID news webpage; click here.


How are NID customers using their irrigation water?

The largest crops by acreage are irrigated pasture and family gardens/orchards. Many of the District’s raw water customers have 10 acres or less of irrigated land.

Click here to see the “Top Crops” fact sheet for full details.

Top Crops:

cows grazing in an open field
  • Irrigated pasture - 20,234 acres ... 7,312 miner’s inches
  • Family gardens/orchards - 6,410 acres ... 3,260 miner’s inches
  • Golf courses - 985 acres ... 645 miner’s inches
  • Hay - 837 acres ... 451 miner’s inches
  • “Other” - 752 acres ... 92 miner’s inches
  • Grapes (non-table) - 695 acres ... 168 miner’s inches
  • Nursery - 349 acres ... 210 miner’s inches
  • Apples - 289 acres ... 121 miner’s inches
  • Forage (other) - 230 acres ... 60 miner’s inches
  • Parks - 226 acres ... 48 miner’s inches
What is a miner’s inch?
The majority of NID’s irrigation customers purchase seasonal water, April 15 through October 14, based on a miner’s inch, a water measurement that dates back to the California Gold Rush.  A miner's inch equals 11.22 gallons per minute, on a 24-hour per day basis. On the average, irrigated pasture requires about one-half miners-inch of water per acre, but this can vary.
Join our mailing list