Lewis Spill project still on track | NevadaAppeal.com

Lewis Spill project still on track

Steve Puterski
Board memebrs of the Truckee Carson Irrigation District said Wednesday they are prediciting the canals may run low during the growing season.

There is no doubt snowfall is on the minds of the board of directors for the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District.

Although the ongoing drought is a major concern and the upcoming water season and what may be another short year received its just due at Wednesday’s monthly meeting, the board spent about 30 minutes discussing the progress of the Lewis Spillway project.

The construction centers on upgrades to the spillway in addition to the A- and V-line canals.

The project will add a takeout, or wasteway, to the spill to alleviate pressure from the canal. In addition, a new low-head hydroelectric generator will be installed, according to TCID Project Manager Rusty Jardine.

It will be the second low-head hydro generator in the project along with Panicker Drop.

The Lewis Spill sits along the Carson River and has been in needed of rehabilitation since 2008 after it failed. Jardine said there used to be a takeout at the spill to funnel water back into the Carson River if water levels and pressure rose too high.

After the 2008 failure, an embankment was installed to provide security for the spillway on the V-line.

“If we have a problem, downstream of it, we could then exercise the gates there and take out water of the canal to eliminate any potential downstream damage,” Jardine said.

The generator, meanwhile, will act like 26-foot Drop, where gravity will pull water into the turbine and create power. It is also the first generator at Lewis Spillway.

“This is a gravity-driven kind of process,” Jardine said. “If we have a place in the project where we have sufficient level fall, water from one level to another, then we can put that through this kind of facility.”

However, a three-week delay in work may cost TCID a large amount of money. The district signed a bid with Carson City-based Nevada Controls to perform the work, which ran into the delays when water seeping from the side, not from below, halted their efforts.

Everett Jesse, CEO and president of Nevada Controls, filed an extension with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and will have a hearing in February on the situation.

TCID Treasurer Lester de Braga questioned Jesse’s handling of the project starting with delays in securing a $1.5 million loan from the Nevada Department of Energy. Due to those actions, TCID lost $300,000 of the loan, had to carry the rest of the financial burden and nearly was denied the $1.2 million loan from the State of Nevada, de Braga said.

Jardine, though, said the loan also comes with a rebate from NV Energy, which may not be awarded by the PUC if they rule against TCID. However, if the PUC rules to allow the rebate, it would further reduce TCID’s cost of the project, he added.

Jesse, though, said the delay was caused by the environmental review process. He added the project is slated for completion by the end of this month and said there is a “95 percent” chance the PUC will rule in favor of TCID.

Director Eric Olsen, who is on the finance committee with de Braga, added TCID has “taken a beating” because of the delays and said it is impossible to calculate for delays when creating a budget.

Jesse, though, said he shared TCID’s concerns, but said the project will be finished by before the hearing in front of the PUC.

As for the PUC, and de Braga’s concerns, it is conceivable the state agency would not approve the project and therefore leave TCID on the hook for a loan with no benefit.

Regardless of the PUC ruling, Jardine said the project will be completed and online for the upcoming water season.

“It will be a real boon,” he added.

In other TCID news —

Vice President David Stix Jr. said the district must ask for financial assistance from Churchill County to pay for fees associated with government lands not subjected to property taxes.

Stix said government entities, such as counties, receive PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) funds to cover those parcels under federal control and not taxable by federal law.

De Braga presented the board with a number of write-offs, specifically lands under the Bureau of Land Mangement’s jurisdiction.

The motion to write-off the BLM lands, in addition to all others, was tabled until the February meeting.

Kelly Herwick told the board the second water season, which made deliveries to wildlife entities, was over by 75-acre feet of the 9,555-acre feet delivered.

The overage, however, is under some dispute as the district’s data collecting efforts are in question. The water in question was delivered to the Canvass Back club.

Those concerns, Herwick said, are for several reasons including meters that may not be fully calibrated and sediment piled up in front of structures to name a few.

Herwick said meters must be calibrated several times per year and, along with other factors, sometimes results in skewed data. TCID’s efforts in the past several years, however, has become more detailed and expects to be even more deliberate once its new database comes online.

Regardless, the tally comes to 0.008 percent of the total water delivered. Herwick said he will discuss with the staff ideas to ensure a more accurate gathering method and present those talks to the board at February’s meeting.

Jardine said he expects a short water season, although he is holding out hope for a big winter in the next two to three months.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported on its recent land sale.

The agency sold four of six properties available and recorded more than $350,000 in total sales, according to Richard Grimes of the USFWS.

Fro information on the USFWS’s next land sale, contact Grimes at 775-423-5128, ext. 225.