The Placer County Board of Supervisors today approved a memorandum authorizing the California-American Water (Cal-Am) company to temporarily pump groundwater to provide its western Placer County customers with water. The action came in response to the failure of the Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) Bear River Canal in April. A section of the canal was destroyed by a landslide and water deliveries from PCWA were severely curtailed.
Due to the outage, Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) delivery of treated surface water to Cal-Am has been suspended. The suspension affects about 960 connections. By its existing agreement, Cal-Am is prohibited from using groundwater to supply its customers. Cal-Am will now temporarily provide its customers with groundwater from its Antelope water system through its existing emergency intertie. Cal-Am requested a resolution from the Board allowing the temporary use of groundwater until the PCWA water shortage emergency is ended.
“I want to thank staff for working with the water company for providing a little additional water,” said Supervisor Jack Duran, whose First District encompasses the affected area. “It shows good cooperation between PCWA, PG&E, Cal-Am, staff and County Counsel.”
The Placer County Resource Conservation District has worked with PG&E and PCWA to provide emergency water to livestock in areas affected by the outage. In addition, the Placer County Agricultural Commissioner is working with the United States Department of Agriculture to collect data on losses.
Placer County’s Office of Economic Development is also canvassing potentially affected businesses to find out if any have suffered economic losses. The Office has focused on nurseries, golf courses, car washes and any other water-intensive industries. It has also reached out to food processors and manufacturers that use high volumes of water. Those that step forward are being documented on “Economic Injury Worksheets” for submission to the U.S. Small Business Administration for possible disaster loan assistance.
PG&E has made significant progress in rebuilding the canal and expects full water flows to resume by mid-June. Water is currently being pumped from the Bear River into the canal downstream from the breach.
PCWA is currently pumping water from the American River into PG&E’s South Canal with two pump stations to meet demands of customers in Newcastle and areas west. The added capacity from PCWA’s second pump began after some modifications and expedited approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
PCWA has been running announcements in local media to inform the public and customers of the outage, the water emergency and efforts to repair the outage. Last week, the Agency sent a direct mailing to 37,500 accounts.