Auburn, Calif.- The Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) Board of Directors on Thursday (Aug. 15) approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) to move forward on development of a potential long-term water transfer that meets their mutual water supply reliability interests and improves the ecosystem of the lower American River.
The potential transfer of water from PCWA’s Middle Fork American River Project would further affirm PCWA’s Water Forum stewardship commitments to the lower American River and likewise assist EBMUD in strengthening its water supply reliability needs.
Under the PCWA board action, staff will develop details of the transfer, including duration and financial terms, for future board consideration.
PCWA, as one of many local water purveyors in the American River basin, is a signatory of the Water Forum agreement. The agreement outlines a multipart plan to increase diversions from the American River to meet increasing future demands locally while at the same time implementing dry year actions to protect the lower American River’s aquatic resources, including Chinook salmon and the federally-threatened Central Valley steelhead.
PCWA Director of Resource Development Andy Fecko said that successful stewardship of the lower American River is important to the agency’s ability to affirm its American River water rights for use by future generations within Placer County.
Fecko said the transfer does not diminish the ability of PCWA to store over 340,000 acre-feet of water in its reservoirs or its ability beneficially to use 120,000 acre-feet of water for the people of Placer County.
As part of the Water Forum commitment, the water agency would make additional releases of Middle Fork Project water in dry years. As envisioned in the MOU, this water released from the PCWA’s French Meadows and Hell Hole reservoirs, would move through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Folsom Reservoir to continue downstream through the lower American River and into the Sacramento River where it would then be purchased by, and flow into EBMUD’s new Freeport diversion facility for use by their customers.
EBMUD officials said the transfer would help the utility bolster its supply to offset dry year shortages affecting its other sources of water supply. The utility supplies 1.2 million customers in Oakland, Berkeley and other east bay communities.