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Another View: Thank you from PCWA to all its customers

By: Lowell Jarvis
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The failure of the Pacific Gas & Electric Bear River Canal this spring to sustain water supplies to PCWA was a very serious situation for the people of Placer County. Thankfully with the cooperation of PCWA’s customers, neighboring water districts, PCWA staff, the news media, PG&E, and the cool, wet weather, this potentially catastrophic water supply event ultimately had nominal adverse impacts. It was remarkable how we all came together in this time of crisis to sustain water supplies to our tens of thousands of customers spread across a couple hundred miles of PCWA’s service area that stretches from Alta to far Western Placer County. First of all, I thank all of the PCWA customers for their patience and compliance with the agency’s water conservation requests. Second, I thank the cities of Roseville and Lincoln, the Cal-American Water Company, the San Juan Water District, the Nevada Irrigation District, the Midway Heights County Water District and others for their quick agreement to make water available along our mutual borders that helped stretch supplies for PCWA to serve other customers’ needs. Third, I express my gratitude to PG&E, their staff and contractors for their efforts in resolving the water supply emergency for PCWA and our customers. PG&E’s staff attended numerous public meetings with PCWA staff to explain the nature of the problem, took seriously the gravity of the consequences of the water supply outage, and responded with swift action to replace the missing portion of the Bear River Canal. They worked expeditiously with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to receive approvals for project reconstruction and other Bear River Canal system reoperations. In addition, PG&E has pledged financial assistance to PCWA to help mitigate some of the financial burdens that arose from the interruption of water supply deliveries from the Bear River Canal to PCWA and our customers. Fourth, the water agency asked for and received help from the Auburn Journal, Gold Country Media, and Auburn’s radio station KAHI, AM-950, to immediately and continually get the word out to the public about the water supply shortage. Articles and advertisements in the Gold Country Media papers and on KAHI informed the public about the incident and the need to conserve water. Special thanks to (reporter) Bridget Jones at the Journal for her frequent articles and to Barry Stigers at KAHI for his news reports during the water emergency. Fifth, I express my appreciation to all PCWA staff and the Board of Directors during this extraordinary event, with special recognition to several key PCWA staff which include: Mike Nichol, the PCWA Director of Field Services, and his team of canal operators for optimizing, to the best possible extent, deliveries of water to irrigation customers and water plants spread throughout our system. Matt Young, the PCWA Director of Customer Services and his team of customer service representatives. The Customer Service staff received a very large volume of calls and patiently worked with customers that had interruptions in their canal water deliveries. Joe Parker, Director of Financial Services, and the Information Technology team created and provided timely and authoritative updates on PCWA’s web page (www.pcwa.net) regarding the water supply emergency. Joe and the Financial Services staff tracked all the unexpected costs and expenses related to this emergency. Einar Maisch, Director of Strategic Affairs, and Brian Martin, Director of Technical Services, with their staffs, played many key roles “behind the scenes” on engineering, mapping and logistical support during the emergency. David Breninger, PCWA’s General Manager, must be recognized for his extraordinary leadership and management skills. David coordinated all of the numerous activities that were required to prompt a quick resolution to this emergency. In addition, David and staff attended numerous city, county, special district, chamber of commerce, and other meetings in addition to being always available to the local and regional news media about this emergency. Their coordinated non-stop outreach program enabled PCWA to reach as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, about the Bear River Canal break and the water conservation actions that were necessary. Finally, on behalf of Placer County Water Agency, thank you to everyone who worked together to help us all achieve success during this water shortage emergency. Lowell Jarvis is chairman of the board of directors of the Placer County Water Agency