AUBURN — A lengthy study of the irrigation canals in the East Loomis Basin has given the Placer County Water Agency a much deeper understanding of the relationships between the canal system and surrounding areas.

 Conclusions and recommendations of the East Loomis Basin Canal Efficiency Study were presented at Thursday’s (June 19) meeting of the Placer County Water Agency Board of Directors.

 The three-year study was commissioned by PCWA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2004 and has included a range of seasonal field observations, analysis and reporting.  The effort was supported through formation of a citizen’s task force.

 Canals throughout the East Loomis Basin are supplied through a single point at Mammoth Reservoir so the study was able to measure more precise flows than in other areas.  It was learned that 68 percent of the water released from the reservoir is delivered to customers and 10 percent reached the end of the canals.  There was a 12 percent rate of excess delivery and 7 percent rate of unauthorized water use. 

 A key finding is that the canal system supports aquatic and terrestrial habitat in local creeks and downstream of the East Loomis Basin, said Jamil Ibrahim, a water resource planner and hydrologist MWH, a consulting firm on the project.

 The study area, generally southeast of Interstate 80, is bounded by Secret Ravine to the north and west and Miners Ravine to the south and east, which have been identified as habitat for Central Valley steelhead and fall run Chinook salmon.

 The study was designed to preserve water service to customers as well as community values and ecological integrity while improving water efficiency of the delivery system.

 Water agency officials were pleased to learn that among seven alternative approaches to improving efficiency, the second least expensive, at $50,000, met the most objectives.  

 PCWA Director of Field Services Mike Nichol said the agency is pursuing the two main recommendations of the study.  It will begin upgrading its “turnouts,” the service connections it uses to divert water from canals to customers, using a tamper-proof, lockable design.  A program to prevent unauthorized water diversion also will be formalized.

 Patrick Dwyer, a project manager for the Corps of Engineers, complimented PCWA for its leadership role in the study, which, he said, will bring new levels of understanding and more efficiency to water use in the area.

 In other business, directors:
 • heard a presentation from Kurt W. Reed, general manager of the Foresthill Public Utility District, who briefed the board on his agency’s water system master plan.  He said the district’s current priority is to expand the water storage available to its 2000 customers.

 • approved environmental studies and a project for an upgrade to the Bowman Water Treatment Plant above Auburn.  Director of Technical Services Brian Martin said the agency is planning to acquire an additional 12 acres adjacent to the plant.

 • heard a report from District 3 Director Lowell Jarvis who attended the American River Confluence Festival on June 8.  Jarvis presented fellow board members with a newly-published brochure on the trails, flora and fauna of the confluence area.  The American River Confluence Parkway Map is published by and available through Protect American River Canyons (PARC).

 The next regular meeting of the PCWA Board of Directors will be held at 2 p.m. on July 3 at the PCWA Business Center, 144 Ferguson Road, in Auburn.  PCWA board meetings are open to the public.

 Information on PCWA board meetings may be obtained from the Clerk to the Board at (530) 823-4850.