Dianna Suarez, Colfax, 11-9-21
Thank you President Bierwagen, and Good afternoon to the Board,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Today you are looking at the NID infrastructure. This infrastructure has been placed onto a much larger natural system called the Functioning Watershed. In order to understand integrated water movement, the larger water cycle, and how watersheds produce water, a much larger vision is required. This is the underlying system from which NID takes its abundance of water. Maintaining the larger environmental system creates the water supply and insures resilience and sustainability.
We all may have an understanding of the water cycle; where the onshore movement of wind collects water from the ocean and brings it onto the landscape. This water is destined to create and sustain life upon the land until ultimately returning to the ocean from which it came, completing the water cycle. One can view a watershed as an enormous precipitation collecting and routing device, but transportation and storage of water actually involves a complicated mix of many smaller processes.
Even before precipitation reaches the ground, it interacts with vegetation. Trees and other vegetation are responsible for interception and detention of some of the rainfall, leading to some evaporation and also slowing the amount reaching the ground via through-fall, and giving it time for better infiltration to groundwater. Saturation of soils, occurring when precipitation exceeds infiltration, leads to overland flow and, over longer time frames, streams and rivers. In other words, the groundwater creates and supplies the surface water.
Watersheds also collect and transport sediments as a major function. Sediment transport and storage is a complex network of smaller watershed processes, and actually is inseparable from water transport and storage. Sediment related processes mostly involve erosion and deposition, but sediment transport and storage also play a longer-term role in soil development. The redeposition of sediments on floodplains is an important function that rejuvenates soils and influences the productivity and diversity of stream corridor ecosystems.
Seeing water in relationship to the entire landscape provides deeper understanding and an ability to see how formerly “outside factors” affect the mission of the District. Proper focus on a systems level vision, and total water budget, will offer a wider view of all the elements affecting NID and its future ability to work with natural processes for truly integrated water management.
Most of these watershed functions that affect the retention and storage of water are absent from NID’s presentation. A few of the essential functions that occur in most healthy watersheds include:
- Transport and storage
- Cycling and transformation
- Ecological succession
Unless NID includes a detailed view of watershed function, the overview of NID’s infrastructure system will be sadly deficient. You need to start at the beginning, the watershed, and to understand that all these processes are interconnected.
An Environmental Water Management Plan is the key to working effectively with nature for water and for life. The entire Bear River watershed is an underfit system, meaning that the River itself can transport many times the current flow, and indeed did at one time have the whole upper South Yuba watershed running in the Bear. https://bearriver.us/geology.php
The headwaters of the Bear are below the seasonal snow line and unaffected by the projected lack of snow. Increased runoff will actually increase groundwater storage within the Bear River watershed. Additionally, the deep cobble and gravel deposits within Bear River Watershed provide an opportunity for groundwater storage that needs to be recognized, evaluated within the Plan for Water, and included into the natural infrastructure system. NID needs to learn about, understand, and give a presentation about the natural infrastructure system of the watersheds. This is where integrated water management starts. Thank you.