NID's conveyance and delivery system allows water tranport from the High Sierra source to District customers in the foothills. The District's system dates back to the California Gold Rush and the ditches dug by miners in their quest to get rich.
“The ditch systems of some mining operations were engineering marvels, with an elaborate use of dams, canals, ditches, flumes, and pipes. The canal systems in some cases extended over hundreds of miles, taking water from one drainage basin and delivering it to another,” noted the California Water Library.
When NID formed in 1921, many of the ditch systems were revamped to deliver irrigation water and also for use in the District’s hydropower aspirations. In the next 100 years, NID refined and expanded its system. Today, the two major distribution and storage systems are the Deer Creek System and the Bear River System. These are a mixture of canals, siphons, pipelines, and other water conveyance structures.
Each system is supplied by diverting water per NID’s surface water rights into the canals at either reservoirs or at other diversion facilities located on the streams. Typical canal operations divert enough flow to allow the purchased deliveries to each customer on the canal. To maintain proper flow rates through customer delivery points, the water surface in the canal is maintained at certain levels, as is typical for miner’s inch delivery systems. However, this also results in water exiting the canal at the downstream terminus. Many of these spills are then captured again at the next downstream diversion point for another canal.
- Canals – 500 miles
- Flumes – 9 miles
- Penstocks – 1 mile
- Other/Creeks – 35 miles
- Siphons/Pipes – 400 miles
- Tunnels – 8 miles
Today, the two major distribution and storage systems are the Deer Creek System and the Bear River System. These are a mixture of canals, siphons, pipelines, and other water conveyance structures.