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EID to Transfer Surplus Water to Westlands Water District
Contact: Jesse Saich, (530) 642-4127, firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Placerville, Calif. — At a special meeting held on April 1, 2015, the El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) Board of Directors unanimously approved a conditional agreement to transfer surplus water to central California’s Westlands Water District in 2015.
The maximum possible transfer amount is approximately 6,000 acre-feet, although the actual amount is likely to be considerably less. This water transfer could generate up to $4.6 million of additional revenue for EID, subject to both water availability and regulatory approvals. It also includes an upfront, non-refundable option payment of $128,600. In addition, this added revenue could make up for lost hydro generation revenue due the banking of additional water at Sly Park’s Jenkinson Lake. The agreement is conditional upon approval from state and federal regulators.
The transfer agreement puts EID customers’ needs first by providing an “off-ramp” that allows the District to cancel the transfer of any water that the District determines is needed to serve its customers in 2015. “We don’t anticipate having to use the off-ramp, but we insisted that it be available should something unforeseen occur. It’s an important bit of insurance for our customers in a historically dry year,” said EID General Counsel Tom Cumpston.
“This transfer will not adversely affect supplies available to EID customers since it involves taking credit for water that our customers have been conserving – or replacing with recycled water – for years. That water otherwise would be withdrawn from Folsom reservoir, where EID now has additional supplies,” Cumpston said.
In January, the Board approved a five-year Warren Act contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that allows the District to divert up to 8,500 acre-feet of Project 184 water—not previously available to the District—from Folsom Reservoir for consumptive use. Any surplus water that’s not used in the El Dorado Hills area would be “lost” to downstream users if it was not put to beneficial use. Under California law, almost any productive use of water qualifies as beneficial use, provided that the method of use is reasonable and not wasteful. To encourage water transfers, state law also credits the transferor for the beneficial use that the transferee makes of the water they receive.
“The revenue received from these transfers has a benefit for the entire District in that the money can be used for retiring debt, funding much-needed capital projects, or making up for lost hydroelectric generation revenue,” said EID General Manager Jim Abercrombie. “The District takes seriously the need to provide adequate supplies to its customers and to be good stewards of those supplies. We believe this temporary transfer contract helps us make beneficial use of water that is not used or might otherwise be lost—not at the expense of our customers, and in a way that helps other water-short areas of California get through the drought.”
“The District is also banking 5,000 to 6,000 acre-feet of water from the Project 184 system by moving it to Jenkinson Lake at Sly Park,” continued Abercrombie. “This action will further protect our customers’ water supply if 2016 turns out to be another dry year. Meanwhile, we ask that everyone continue do their part to help us meet the state’s mandatory target of 25% conservation in 2015.”
Westlands Water District is an agricultural water purveyor in central California that provides water to farms in Fresno County and Kings County. Westlands growers produce more than $1 billion worth of California’s food and fiber crops annually.
EID is a public agency dedicated to providing high quality water, wastewater treatment, recycled water, hydropower, and recreation services in an environmentally and fiscally responsible manner.