Winds damage PG&E water canal in Nevada County

About 20 irrigation water customers in Nevada County have been without water since Friday after strong winds damaged a PG&E irrigation canal.

Winds up to 70 mph knocked down a number of large pine trees, dropping them across the South Yuba Canal and crushing it in several places, said Chip Close, water operations manager for the Nevada Irrigation District. The open-topped canal, also called a flume, is an elevated structure that provides water for hydroelectric generation at the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Deer Creek Powerhouse, as well as serves the water district.

The district was able to reroute water from other sources to most customers served by the canal, although about 20 have been without water since Friday, Close said. PG&E is working to repair the canal, but that could take three to four weeks, he said.

The 19-mile canal runs from Lake Spaulding to the Scotts Flat Lake area. The canal breaks are near Zeibright Mine Road, east of Nevada City.

“It’s challenging terrain in very remote areas, so that makes the repairs that much harder,” Close said.

A PG&E spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

Close emphasized the canal provides only irrigation water, for crops and other agricultural needs, and affected customers have other sources of drinking water. The district is working to get temporary pumps in place to restore irrigation water for these customers until the canal is repaired. All district customers are encouraged to conserve water until the canal is fixed, Close said.