Water district pulls back from Garden Bar dam plan
The fate of a proposed dam on the Bear River east of Camp Far West Lake Reservoir is less than certain after one of the partners in the plan voted last week to put the idea on hold.
The South Sutter Water District's board of directors voted to stop, though not end, the Garden Bar dam proposal because of a lack of partners from Northern California, said a spokeswoman for the proposal's partnership.
"We'll just try to figure out what this means for the next step," said Kim Floyd, who noted the only step taken so far by the partnership was a feasibility study released last year.
"It's very much at the 30,000-foot level at this point," she said.
The dam, which would be built on what's now the Garden Bar Preserve, would be on the borders of Nevada, Placer and Yuba counties.
Both the Placer County Board of Supervisors and the Nevada Irrigation District were either cool or outright opposed to the proposal, though Floyd said it also had its supporters.
But after other partners, including water agencies in Southern California and cities such as Napa and American Canyon, began making other plans for water supply, the South Sutter Water District's directors had to re-evaluate, Floyd said.
An environmental group opposed to the dam trumpeted the vote to put the project on hold, saying it showed the proposal couldn't overcome opposition and a desire to see the river left as it is.
"This is great news for all of us who were concerned about the river and keeping our water," said Tom Mooers, executive director of Nevada City-based Sierra Watch. "I wasn't one of the seven votes on the board to make this move, but it looked to me like the proposal was faced with real insurmountable hurdles."
He said he is not concerned the proposal will come back, because it's been explored before and rejected. "This is a pretty resounding vote," he said.
Water district officials had said the dam would help preserve supplies for the future, with much of the district's current supply from wells. But critics said the presence of thirsty districts from Southern California in the partnership suggested the plan was more about sending water there than supplying it to local farmers.
Floyd said members of the partnership will meet this week to discuss what steps to take next.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.