NID Rejects SYRCL’s Resolution to Stop Work on Centennial Dam

The Nevada Irrigation District (NID) convened a special board meeting last night at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Hall where more than 700 people packed the auditorium to learn about South Yuba River Citizens League’s (SYRCL) request to stop work on Centennial Dam, where legally possible, until the Raw Water Master Plan (RWMP) is completed.  Prior to the meeting, SYRCL rallied hundreds of people in front of the venue to protest the proposed Centennial Dam and show support for SYRCL’s resolution. 

“This was one of the strangest public meetings I’ve attended,” stated Melinda Booth, SYRCL’s Executive Director.  “While, I’m pleased for the opportunity to have so many people gather in one place to engage in our community’s water future, I was disappointed the NID Board did not provide more time for public comment.”  Dozens of speakers remained to be heard when the moderator cut off additional input.  

The result of the meeting is that when the Board finally got around to considering SYRCL’s resolution, in a “courtesy” motion made by Director Wilcox, the motion died due to lack of a second.  Director Miller’s “alternative” resolution, capping Centennial spending to $2 million per year, passed 3-2 with Directors Morebeck and Drew dissenting—all in the last five minutes of the meeting.  

“At NID, it’s business as usual — putting the cart before the horse by wasting millions on Centennial Dam even when the state determined the project has no public benefit. We are disappointed NID failed to support SYRCL’s common sense approach to complete the raw water master plan first,” said Booth. 

A summary of SYRCL’s concerns and thoughts about the meeting last night include:
  • The “alternative” resolution was presented as a compromise.  This was not a compromise because NID’s proposed budget for Centennial already allocates $2M/year for Centennial through 2023, which Director Wilcox confirmed. This is status quo.  This means that NID will continue to spend money on a project its own counsel stated is unlikely to happen, tainting the Raw Water Master Plan (RWMP) process with a predetermined outcome.
  • NID’s failure to vote on SYRCL’s resolution and their disregard for public input further eroded public trust, accountability, and basic fiscal responsibility.
  • We asked for transparency, but the Board rushed a decision on a resolution introduced at the last second, with no opportunity for public input or a chance for the public to review the resolution.  They then passed it on the narrowest of margins within minutes of its introduction. The language of the exact resolution voted on is still a mystery and has not been released to the public. 
  • NID’s staff presentation was not online for the public or available to SYRCL staff in advance. NID staff presentation did not address the root of SYRCL’s concerns and omitted key data that substantiated SYRCL’s resolution.  For example, NID staff forgot to include in their presentation that their audits revealed that NID spent $500,000+ toward centennial without documentation showing board approval. 
  • We found Board member comments during the discussion on water rights problematic.  SYRCL stands by our statement that the RWMP process constitutes sufficient diligence and that no further action on Centennial dam is needed in order to maintain an active water rights petition.
Thank you to all for attending and rallying for the Bear River! We need our Dam Watchdogs now more than ever. Stay tuned. 
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