The Browns Valley Irrigation District is planning to pipe one of its oldest, leakiest ditches to improve water supply efficiency and reliability for its customers. 

After securing a $637,320 grant from the Yuba Water Agency on Tuesday, work will now begin on engineering and design.

“When complete, the Sicard Pipeline Project will replace nearly 10 miles of open ditch that is overwhelmed by extensive leaks with a continuous pipeline that will extend from its diversion at Dry Creek, about 3 miles below the dam at Collins Lake, to the end of the ditch near Highway 20 in Browns Valley,” said Ryan McNally, general manager of BVID. “Not only will this increase reliability to customers, it will also create an opportunity to eventually provide service to hundreds of more parcels in Browns Valley.” 

By piping the Sicard Ditch, McNally said, the district expects to save around 4,000 acre-feet of water per year – or around 4 feet of lake elevation stored in Collins Lake per year – that would otherwise be lost to leakage.

The largest cost will be for project engineering and design, which is estimated to cost $509,320. The rest of the grant will be spent on California Environmental Quality Act and environmental studies ($78,000) and a water savings study ($50,000) that will quantify how much water the current ditch is actually losing to leakage per year.

McNally said the plan is to create a shovel ready project that the district can leverage to acquire further state and federal grant sources in the future for construction costs.

Once design is complete, the district expects the project to take between three and five years to construct, depending on funding and conditions. 

BVID is one of the state’s oldest continually-operating irrigation districts. The district currently has 200 miles of open ditch and 70 miles of pipeline serving more than 1,500 customers.

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