Nevada Irrigation District suspends some fall water deliveries

The Nevada Irrigation District has suspended delivery of fall irrigation water for the first time in more than 20 years, a move intended to preserve water supplies during California’s ongoing drought.

The district serves Nevada County and some areas of Placer County. During the fall, it normally delivers irrigation water to several thousand small agricultural customers between Oct. 15 and Dec. 1. But it recently announced that water will not be available this year. District customers who receive treated water are not affected.

Chip Close, the district’s water operations manager, said the move is not likely to have a large effect on customers. That is because, like the rest of California, they have already been living with severe drought for a year or more and have adjusted their water demand accordingly. He said customers have done a “fantastic job” conserving water. A recent series of light storms has also helped customers cope.

“The demand is very low, actually, this year,” Close said. “By our rules and regulations, we only make it available when we have enough storage and supply.”

He said the decision was also made because, earlier this year, the State Water Resources Control Board curtailed thousands of water rights across California. As a result, Close said, the district isn’t certain it has the legal right at the moment to divert and deliver water from Sierra Nevada streams as usual.

“Until they lift that curtailment, we really are in a gray area. So we’re being as conservative as possible,” he said.

Some customers also have access to winter water deliveries from the district, a different supply category offered through April 15. But because of the drought, only customers who have previously purchased that supply can do so again. New sales of winter water are not offered, Close said.

Call The Bee’s Matt Weiser at (916) 321-1264. Follow him on Twitter @matt_weiser.