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Grass Valley, CA October 10, 2017 – Residents will have the opportunity to help brainstorm access options around the Scotts Flat Dam spillway during a special meeting of the Nevada Irrigation District’s Water and Hydroelectric Operations Committee on Oct. 18.
The meeting was scheduled after NID action taken at the Scotts Flat Dam spillway in August to safeguard dam infrastructure and as public health and safety protection measures. The district installed fencing and a gate across the top of and along the edge of the spillway after increased concerns, including illegal camping and campfires, unsafe jumping into the lake, excessive trash, graffiti and dumped debris.
Although signage prohibiting public access has been posted for years, residents and recreationists have used the spillway path to reach either side of the reservoir and nearby trails.
The spillway itself is used to provide controlled release of water flows from the 175-foot earthen Scotts Flat Dam, originally built in 1948 to impound Deer Creek and create the reservoir. The top of the spillway provides NID operational access to the district’s hydroelectric facility at the base of the dam. The plant has produced an average of 3,000,000 kilowatthours a year during the past 3 years. That’s enough electricity to power about 277.5 households a year.
NID is subject to dam safety enforcement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and California Department of the Safety of Dams (DSOD). The California Water Code details NID’s responsibility: “… the law requires that a dam shall at all times be designed, constructed, operated and maintained so that it shall not or would not constitute a danger to life or property.”
After record rains earlier this year in Northern California damaged Oroville Dam spillway, for instance, there has been heightened scrutiny on aging dams and spillways throughout the state. In September, Scotts Flat was included on a priority re-evaluation list for spillways by DSOD. The spillway had an “extremely high” rating based on the downstream hazard based on the number of people who live downstream of the dam, not the actual condition of spillway.
After the gate and fence installation, residents have expressed displeasure about lost access. The Oct. 18 workshop will provide a venue to have open discussion about alternatives that might provide public access while addressing NID’s concerns about providing health and safety protections, as well as district liability.
The Water and Hydroelectric Operations Committee meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at NID’s Main Business Center, 1036 W. Main Street, Grass Valley, CA 95945, in the Board Room. The meeting will be structured in a workshop format to maximize the opportunity for input.