UPDATE - Placer County Water Agency

Drought Continues
Water Supply Update...
Story Below
Final Column From
Retiring GM...
Page 2
Water Supply Update
Early Season Storms
Help, But Drought
is Not Over
s a wet December evolved into a
dry January - in much the same
pattern as a year ago - PCWA
water planners remained hopeful that late
winter and spring precipitation will ease
local drought conditions.
PCWA drought project manager Tony
Firenzi said that December's significant
storms put a dent in the drought, at least
in Placer County, but that it appears likely
the region may be headed into a fourth
consecutive dry year.
The 2014 calendar year brought 60
percent of average precipitation to local
mountain watershed but last winter's
snowpack was measured at just 10 percent
Pump Station and Restored River Channel
of average. PCWA's allocation of water
American River Pump Station includes the pumphouse
from PG&E mountain reservoirs was
diversion channel along the river bank, center, and
reduced to 71 percent of average.
PCWA water users responded well to
the dry year challenge, Firenzi said.
Treated water users reduced use by 17 percent and raw water users cut their use by
33 percent. The reductions allowed more
nstallation of a powerful new pump is under way at the PCWA American
(Please See Drought, P. 3)
River Pump Station near Auburn. The new pump has a capacity of 41 cubic
feet of water per second (cfs) and will boost the station's capacity to 189 cfs.
Drought Continues
It is the sixth pump in the station, which was built with five pumps and
By mid-January, Gov. Brown's
designed for future expansion.
statewide drought declaration and the
The installation is budgeted at $3.5 million and is expected to be complete by this
drought emergency declared last year
by the PCWA Board of Directors
The American River Pump Station opened in 2008. It diverts water from the river
remained in effect.
up the steep canyon wall and into the three-mile-long Auburn Tunnel to Ophir, where it
PCWA water users are being
can supply wide areas of Placer County. The station has proved to be especially valuasked to reduce water use by 10 perable in recent drought years.
cent, with a goal of 20 percent, until
River Channel Restoration
the drought is over.
The pump station included a restoration of the river to its natural channel after it
For helpful water conservation
had been diverted through a tunnel for 30 years (for the unbuilt Auburn Dam). Today's
information, please see www.pcwa.net
river includes PCWA's modern diversion structure that parallels a recreated whitewater
or www.BeWaterSmart.info.
channel suitable for rafting.
A New Pump at the American River
General Manager’s Report
By David A. Breninger
Retiring Manager Says
Thank You and Best Regards
s my retirement date approaches, I've been
reflecting upon my 23 years of service as
your general manager and my 48-year career in service to the public. I can honestly say my tenure here at PCWA has been the highlight of my professional career.
I have had the privilege to work with 15 different community leaders from
across Placer County who have served on your Board of Directors. I have been
impressed with their personal dedication to you and their constituents countywide.
I'm proud to be associated with these high performance policy leaders.
I have also had the pleasure to work with 19 different department heads, several hundred employees and innumerable consultants and contractors. Both individually and collectively, all of these dedicated men and women have contributed
to the success and advancement of the agency.
Highlights Listed
Here are a few highlights of the things we have
accomplished over the years:
• We built the PCWA Business Center (in Auburn), a
Power Division Facilities Center (in Foresthill), and
established a Water Division Facilities Center (in
Auburn). Each of these assures the agency's ability to
centralize services and enhance efficiencies.
• We constructed the American River and Ophir
station projects, enabling PCWA to pump our
The PCWA Business Center
water from the river to benefit the land,
Opened in 1994
people, and prosperity of western Placer County.
Particularly noteworthy is that our American River Pump Station Project included the
restoration of the North Fork American River to return to flowing in its natural channel
(after nearly a half-mile of the river had been diverted by federal officials for decades
through a bypass tunnel where they one day envisioned an Auburn Dam).
• We successfully completed the federal relicensing process of our Middle Fork
American River Hydroelectric Project (which was built under an original 50-year license
issued to the agency in 1963).
• We formed the Middle Fork Project Finance Authority, a joint venture of PCWA
with our partners at the County of Placer, to manage energy sales of PCWA’s Middle Fork
American River Project.
• We improved reliability and operational efficiencies of our Power System and Water
System; constructed new water plants, tanks, and pipelines; and conducted extensive
renewal and replacement of aging infrastructure of our canal and treated water systems.
• We supported stewardship of our county's watersheds (and especially in the
American River watershed severely burned in the recent disastrous King Fire and earlier by
the Star Fire).
• We managed years of drought in partnership with our customers to achieve significant water use reduction and conservation.
• We established an organizational team culture dedicated to effective and efficient
public service.
I thank the Board of Directors for allowing me the opportunity to work for them, to
lead our team, and to serve our customers. It has been my pleasure to serve. I extend my
best regards to all and for the continued success of the Placer County Water Agency.
Protecting Ralston
PCWA Geared Up to
Capture Storm Debris
Last year's massive King Fire
charred 97,000 acres of forest lands
in Placer and El Dorado counties,
including about 40,000 acres of
watershed on PCWA's Middle Fork
American River Project.
The intensity of the fire on steep
terrain along the Rubicon River left
scars, barren hillsides and the potential for massive runoff of fire debris
into the river. PCWA officials determined that action must be taken
before winter rains moved in.
The PCWA Board of Directors
declared an emergency in September
and contracted with Syblon Reid
Contractors of Folsom to activate an
emergency management project that
would limit debris and damage at
PCWA's Ralston Afterbay Reservoir.
Log booms are in place at
Ralston Afterbay Reservoir
Log booms and grappling equipment were placed across the reservoir
to contain and remove logs that might
wash down the river. Equipment was
installed to pass logs over or around
Ralston Dam without damaging it.
Soil erosion on the hillsides has
caused a continued problem with sedimentation washing down the river
and entering the reservoir. Plans are
now being finalized for a sediment
removal project later this year.
The big early December storms,
although powerful, caused erosion but
no significant tree movement. With
potential for more storms, the emergency remediation project is planned
to continue through the current rainfall season.
Agency officials said the potential
for erosion and debris from the heavily burned area will continue for several years.
Talking Canals
A Hand Up
Operation of canals has always been a balancing act for
PCWA canal operators. Enough water has to flow through canals
to meet the needs of customers at the very ends, while keeping
unused water to a minimum.
Now in a pilot project planned for the Upper Greeley Canal
in Newcastle, electronic communication will let the head of the
canal know how the tail is doing, so that flows can be automatically adjusted.
The technology has been used in the water industry, especially in large agricultural areas, but is new to the water agency,
says PCWA Water Management Specialist Randy Cox.
“We feel it is going
to allow us to maintain
good customer service
while reducing unused
water at the end of the
canal,” said Cox, who
added that the technology could be added to
other PCWA canals in
the future.
PCWA already uses
13 electronic monitoring
stations on ends of
canals around the East Loomis Basin. These help operators set
flow rates but still require more travel up and down the canals
along with manual adjustment. Cox said the agency hopes the
new technology will bring more efficiency in operation and water
The pilot project is being funded through a California
Proposition 84 grant awarded to PCWA for canal efficiency
oing to college can be tough for young people who
have grown up as foster children and are now out on
their own, with no families to rely on.
Over the holidays, PCWA employees
pitched in to make education a little more
affordable to young people who are part of
a Sierra College program that helps former
foster youths.
Under the leadership of Diane Ott, a
customer services representative, employees
contributed more than $1500, which Ott
and co-worker Carrie Sahol used to purchase gift cards and computer flash drives
Diane Ott
for the students.
PCWA employees have supported numerous causes and
programs over the years; this their second contribution to the
foster youth program, after raising $1000 a year earlier.
In a thank-you note, Bill Halldin, president of the Sierra
College Board of Trustees, wrote, “Because of you and so
many in our community, Sierra College is well-known among
foster youth as a great place to go to college.”
Said Ott, “We have great people here and they really came
Heads and Tails Linked Electronically
Continued From P. 1
water to remain in storage in case of continued drought conditions.
Deputy Director of Customer Services
Linda Yager, who oversees PCWA's water
efficiency program, said customers and
other water users in the greater Sacramento
region were early in recognizing the need to
Tony Firenzi
save water.
PCWA Drought
“Our customers have been very underProject Manager
standing and cooperative,” she said.
This year's early season storms brought
mid-December precipitation to 128 percent of average and while
the storms produced runoff into mountain reservoirs they were
warmer than normal and did little to deepen a mountain snowpack that is counted on as “an extra reservoir.”
Firenzi said the agency is continuing to monitor water storage and weather conditions and expects to have a much clearer
picture on this year's water availability after snow surveys in
March and April.
PCWA Employees Pitch In for Foster Students
Connection Charge Same in 2015
The PCWA Board of Directors in December suspended a
scheduled 2015 increase in the Water Connection Charge (WCC)
for new service connections. Staff recommended that the WCC,
which varies according to meter size and is indexed to construction costs, remain the same while staff reviews the components
upon which the charge is based.
Winter Canal Cleaning
Cleaning of canals throughout the PCWA distribution system is in progress and expected to continue through winter.
This year's work includes removal of so-called “pine needle
berms” and other debris that built up in canals following the
high winds of early winter storms.
More Breninger Awards
On the eve of his retirement, accolades are piling up for
PCWA General Manager David Breninger. In December, he
received a distinguished service award from the Regional Water
Authority. In January he was honored with a distinguished service award from the National Water Resources Association and a
community spirit award from the Rocklin Chamber of
Follow PCWA on Twitter:
Your Elected
Board of Directors
PCWA is an independent public
agency governed by an elected Board
of Directors. Directors represent
each of five districts in Placer County
and are elected by voters to fouryear terms.
Your PCWA Board
of Directors:
DISTRICT 1: Gray Allen
DISTRICT 2: Primo Santini
(2015 Chairman of the Board)
DISTRICT 3: Mike Lee
(2015 Vice Chair)
DISTRICT 4: Robert Dugan
DISTRICT 5: Joshua Alpine
Public Meetings
Water Efficiency Corner
Teaching Kids to Be Water Smart
t's easy to take water for granted. After all, every time you turn on the faucet, it's
there. But, in California’s extreme drought, it's more important than ever to help
kids learn to be water smart. Here are some easy tips for getting started:
Show Them Where Water Really Comes From
At Placer County Water Agency, water comes from two
sources: rain and snowpack runoff from the mountains and
underground water basins called aquifers. Water is pumped
from the rivers and from underground, treated to make it
safe to drink, and sent to our homes for drinking, cooking,
bathing and watering our gardens.
It's easy to show kids our beautiful lakes, rivers and
streams. In the spring, get out and enjoy picnicking along the Middle Fork American
River or hiking near the North Fork of the Middle Fork Trail. This helps kids understand the connection between water in the environment and the water that comes out
of the tap.
Explain The Drought
We live in a dry climate where there can be long periods of time when there is little
rainfall. The name of a long period of time without water is called a “dry year” or
“drought.” California has been dry in recent years and Gov. Brown in early 2014
declared a statewide drought emergency. He called on all Californians to reduce water
use by 20 percent.
The Placer County Water Agency
Board of Directors meets regularly the first and third Thursdays
of each month at 2 p.m. at the
Placer County Water Agency
Business Center, 144 Ferguson
Road, in Auburn. The public is
Explain Benefits of Water Conservation
Make Children Water Detectives
This newsletter is published
as a public service of the
P.O. Box 6570
Auburn, CA 95604
144 Ferguson Road
Auburn, California 95603
(530) 823-4850
(800) 464-0030
General Manager: David A. Breninger
Newsletter Editor: Dave Carter
Water conservation is defined as “the act of saving water and using it wisely.” It's
important for everyone to think carefully about the water we use so that not a drop is
wasted. Our water use has a direct impact on the amount of water in our lakes and
rivers. When we waste water, it means we lack water for what we most desire - for
drinking, bathing and recreation. We may also endanger the health of of fish that live
in our rivers. We clearly need to save water so that all people have enough. We also need
to think about how we can better share our fresh water with wildlife that need water to
There are many easy things kids (and adults) can do to save
water. Teach children the simple things they can do every day, like
turning off the water when brushing teeth and washing hands, and
not using the toilet as a trash can. Teach them to be a water detective, to look for things around the house that waste water - a faucet
drip or garden hose without a nozzle. This hands-on learning will
help your household save water (and energy) which can save money
on your utility bills.
PCWA’s Mobile App
PCWA has a new application for
mobile devices. Search your apps for
“PCWA” and download for free.
Printed on 50% recycled fiber content with
25% post-consumer waste, FSC certified
paper with eco-friendly inks