Nevada Irrigation District reservoir capacity at 92 percent
December 26, 2016
GRASS VALLEY, Calif. — Nevada Irrigation District reports its reservoirs at 92 percent capacity, which has prompted it to release water to manage levels and increase the amount of hydroelectric energy produced.
"It's been a while that we have had a good winter where we can dump the water for level management," NID operations department manager Chip Close explained last week. "During the last few years of drought, we basically had to capture every drop that our water rights allowed."
Currently, the capacity of NID's reservoirs sits at 243,380 acre feet — 150 percent of average — and almost 100,000 acre feet more than their mean for this time of year, which is 157,556 acre feet.
Out of 48 years of record taking, the reservoir levels aren't the most that they have been for this time of year, though.
"It's not record-breaking yet, but it's pretty darn close and within the top three," Close said. "With this winter, many of our reservoirs have spilled over and others we are managing right toward the top to keep them from spilling. That allows for added hydroelectric generation."
NID's seven different hydroelectric power houses can produce 82.2 megawatts of power when running full bore, or enough to power 60,000 homes.
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"There's a double benefit from these types of storms. One, to get out of the drought," Close explained. "And on top of that we can use that electric power as a result."
While western Nevada County's 30 inches of rain so far this season have been welcomed by those at NID, officials are keeping an eye on coming storms in anticipation of a good snow pack before the winter's over.
"When the winter storms roll in, we need to capture that," Close said. "The rain fall is great for our storage, but the snowpack is what we're looking forward to through the rest of the winter."
The NID, which supplies water for much of Nevada County and portions of Placer and Yuba counties, operates 10 regional reservoirs, including Bowman Reservoir, French Lake Reservoir and Jackson Meadows Reservoir.
Elias Funez is a staff writer for The Union newspaper, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun's covering news in Grass Valley, Nevada City and other Sierra Foothills communities.